FoodBytes! by Rabobank is a next-generation pitch competition and networking platform that builds lasting connections between the most promising food and agriculture startups, corporates and investors, helping them pioneer a more sustainable future.

Don’t miss your opportunity to join the FoodBytes! community – Applications are now open.

Apply now or find all the answers to your burning questions in the FAQ

Date: Thursday, September 19 

Venue: Revel Fulton Market

1215 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607

Official Hotel: Ace Hotel, 311 N Morgan St, Chicago

Attendees will receive a discounted rate of $319, exclusive of applicable taxes. Reservations can be made directly here, by emailing the reservations department at reservations.chi@acehotel.com or calling 312-548-1177. Group reservation name: Rabobank.

Please note, the exclusive rate is available until August 16, 2019, please ensure reservations before this date. 

Schedule

2 - 3 PM | Opening Reception

Mix and mingle with food and ag innovators and enjoy food and drinks while meeting the demo companies at their display tables.

3:00 - 5:00 PM | Pitch Companies

Pitch companies take to the FoodBytes! stage

5:00 - 5:30 PM | Voting & Award Ceremony
5:30 - 7:30 PM | Closing Reception

Mix and mingle some more and enjoy food and drinks while meeting the demo companies at their display tables.

FoodBytes! Judges

Specializing in food investment, product innovation, retail buying and more, our esteemed panel brings diverse expertise to the FoodBytes! table.

Tina May

Tina May

Senior Director of Sustainability, Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN

Tina May leads the innovation team for Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN. In this role she is tasked with creating innovative sustainability solutions to help farmers and co-op member-owners nationwide, harnessing the nexus of policy and business.

Previously, Tina worked for more than a decade in government, including leadership roles with the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Tina has also worked as a Silicon Valley executive, and co-founded the first-ever DC based lobbying firm to incorporate as a Public Benefit Corporation.

Michael Lavin

Michael Lavin

Founder, Germin8 Ventures

Michael founded Germin8 Ventures, which is a venture capital fund that is seeking to improve the global food system and is innovative in its own right, providing both investment and strategic resources to the founders of transformative FoodTech and AgTech companies around the world.  Michael and his partners at Germin8 are an extension of the exceptional teams they back, applying like-minded entrepreneurial hustle, a partnership approach and creativity to best enable teams.  Michael participates very actively on the boards of invested companies and is also a mentor and member at several accelerators and incubators, including the Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator, 1871, The Good Food Accelerator, Family Farmed, The Hatchery and the TERRA accelerator at RocketSpace.  

Previously, Michael was an investment banker at Chicago-based Mesirow Financial, successfully executing transactions in Food & Agriculture, Industrial Technology and other sectors, while also serving on Mesirow’s corporate development team.  Prior to joining Mesirow’s investment banking practice, Michael began his career in the consulting practice, advising on corporate turnarounds and financial restructurings for clientele ranging from the middle market to Fortune 500.  

Michael’s passion for food and agriculture is authentic and deep rooted having grown up in the industry, working throughout the value chain and completing coursework in agribusiness and agriculture sciences.  Michael graduated from the University of Illinois with both bachelors and masters degrees in finance.  Michael is a proud Chicago native, but regularly commutes to the San Francisco Bay Area, Tel Aviv and in between.

Mentors

Our 20 pitch companies will take part in an invite-only mentor sessions with industry experts. Our mentor sessions originated at FoodBytes! SF 2016 and are part of our continual quest to provide increasing value to our pitch companies and stakeholders. Get to know our incredible lineup of mentors below. 

Bob Bloom

Bob Bloom

ADM

Having served in a comprehensive advisory role to food and beverage startups for nearly 20 years and helping one of those startups achieve global brand status with annual revenue in excess of $1 billion, Bob knows what it takes to help startups scale and succeed in the market. He’s deeply passionate about helping entrepreneurs bring their ideas to life from inception to globalization through the development and implementation of a comprehensive and rational go-to-market strategy that aligns with the brand and available resources. Bob’s helped entrepreneurs: evaluate and implement their go-to-market strategy; develop and test great-tasting and consumer-preferred products; facilitate angel, venture and private equity financing; connect with contract manufacturers and distribution partners; and win with consumers. Prior to joining WILD Flavors (acquired by ADM in 2014), Bob served as co-founder, officer and board member for F&C International (acquired by WILD Flavors in 1994). He’s also served as an economist, sales leader, president and CEO in a variety of industries.

Chuck Cotter

Chuck Cotter

Shareholder, Polsinelli PC

Chuck has sophisticated experience working with entrepreneurs, nascent companies, and venture funds in the food, beverage, and natural products space, and he leads the firm’s Food and Beverage industry group. Chuck has worked with more than fifty consumer products and related brands and advises such companies at all stages of growth, from startups to ready-to-exit, helping them successfully raise capital, complete acquisitions and divestitures, and comply with regulatory requirements.  He also advises numerous venture funds with respect to their investments in consumer products companies.  The philosophy of Chuck’s group is that clients are long-term partners and not viewed transactionally.

 

Finity Jernigan

Finity Jernigan

Attorney, Polsinelli

Finity helps entrepreneurs, companies of all stages, and venture funds in the consumer packaged goods space to reach their goals, including raising capital, executing acquisitions and divestitures, and addressing day-to-day corporate matters. Finity works with dozens of food, beverage, and natural products companies and venture funds who invest in the space.  The philosophy of Finity’s group is that clients are long-term partners, who are not viewed merely as transactions

Elliot Begoun

Elliot Begoun

Principal, The Intertwine Group

Elliot Begoun is the Principal of The Intertwine Group, a practice focused on helping emerging food and beverage brands grow and become sustainable and investable. He works with clients to design and execute customized route-to-market and go-to-market strategies that build velocity, gain distribution, and win share of stomach. Catch him at FoodBytes in his role as a mentor and find his articles in publications such as the Huffington Post, SmartBrief, and FoodDive.

Frank Milianti

Frank Milianti

Managing Director, Creative Alignments

Frank Milianti is the Managing Director at Creative Alignments, responsible for overseeing the company’s consumer products practice. He has more than 15 years of experience leading CPG recruitment efforts to help maximize his client’s investment in people. He's energized by developing lasting relationships with strategic partners and sharing his knowledge on how to best build a successful culture and team.

Joseph Schumaker

Joseph Schumaker

Founder & CEO, Foodspace + Co

After graduating with honors from the California Culinary Academy, San Francisco, Joe co-founded a catering company in 2006. He was instrumental in growing Cosmopolitan Catering (acquired by Compass Group in 2018) to over $20M and in 2015 exited and began consulting in foodservice facility and product design with his newly formed foodspace® brand.  Joe is an expert in foodservice management, food business growth, product development, business strategy and mentorship.

Proudly Brought to You By

Rabobank Group is a global financial services leader providing wholesale and retail banking, leasing, and real estate services in more than 40 countries worldwide. Rabobank is one of the world’s largest banks with over $750 billion in assets. In the Americas, Rabobank is a premier bank to the food, agribusiness and beverage industry, providing sector expertise, strategic counsel and tailored financial solutions to clients across the entire food value chain. We know that sustainability and innovation are critical in promoting a thriving food and ag industry that will feed growing global populations for years to come, which is a key focus of our Banking for Food strategy.

Presenting Sponsor

ADM

ADM

ADM has been feeding food businesses for nearly 115 years with plant-based proteins, whole-food ingredients and product development expertise. We match your idea to the right ingredients—helping food developers and entrepreneurs get to market faster great-tasting, nutritious foods that consumers love.

ADM is an industry-leading specialty ingredients provider offering an ever-expanding catalog of flavorful, colorful, functional, nutritious and whole-food ingredients through its WILD Flavors and Specialty Ingredients (WFSI) business unit. Whether developers and entrepreneurs are looking for a single ingredient, custom ingredient blend or a complete product solution, we can help them get to market faster with great-tasting, nutritious foods consumers purchase time and time again.

Official Sponsor

Printpack

Printpack

Printpack is a leading manufacturer of flexible and specialty rigid packaging that combines unique insights on consumer preference with advanced technological capabilities in order convert packaging concepts into reality. Printpack has over 60 years of experience helping brands improve retail visibility, heighten brand awareness and capture market share. Headquartered in Atlanta, GA, Printpack is a privately held company. Printpack employs over 3,200 associates worldwide and operates 19 manufacturing facilities in the United States, Mexico and China. To learn more, please call (404) 460-7000 or visit printpack.com.

Official Sponsor

Land O Lakes

Land O Lakes

Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN™, the newest business unit under Land O'Lakes Inc, works to support a healthier planet with improvements in air, soil and water quality; strong rural and farm economies with more money in the pockets of farmers; and more connected relationships between consumers and those who work hard to feed them.

Official Sponsor

Polsinelli

Polsinelli

Polsinelli is an Am Law 100 firm with more than 800 attorneys in 20 offices.  Ranked #24 for Client Service Excellence and #10 for best client relationships among 650 U.S. law firms, Polsinelli was also named among the top 20 best-known firms in the nation. The firm’s attorneys provide value through practical legal counsel infused with business insight, and focus on food and beverage, food- and ag-tech, health care, financial services, real estate, intellectual property, mid-market corporate, labor and employment, and business litigation.

Official Sponsor

foodspace

foodspace

foodspace helps food and food tech businesses grow and thrive. From startups, to early stage ventures, companies focused on consumer packaged goods, to new food truck concepts, we help business owners go from idea to product delivery. Our +community is made up of like-minded entrepreneurs plus a team of seasoned mentors with business, culinary, hospitality, marketing, operations, finance, startup, food service expertise and beyond. We are dedicated to the food space and are focused on helping food businesses be successful.

Supporting Sponsor

Boulder Food Group

Boulder Food Group

Boulder Food Group seeks partnerships with early stage food and beverage consumer product companies. BFG works alongside exceptional entrepreneurs to ensure the business is able to deliver sustainable growth and outperform its competitors.

Supporting Sponsor

The Intertwine Group

The Intertwine Group

The Intertwine Group helps emerging food and beverage brands grow. We design and execute customized route-to-market and go-to-market strategies that build velocity, gain distribution, and win share of stomach. Our approach creates growing brands that are sustainable and investable.

Supporting Sponsor

Creative Alignments

Creative Alignments

Creative Alignments is a disruptor in the recruiting services space. We have developed a unique Time-Based Recruiting® model that creates a flexible talent partnership with our clients to find them the very best talent, while saving money. As opposed to traditional percentage-of-salary recruiting firms that may push candidates for fee-based windfalls, Creative Alignments aligns with companies to tap quality employees who can fuel their growth. Using our innovative pay-by-the-hour process, our senior team recruits across all functions in the food & consumer products, tech, professional services & manufacturing industries.

Supporting Sponsor

Agropur

Agropur

Founded in 1938 in Québec, Agropur dairy cooperative is joining the FoodBytes! family in 2018, bringing 80 years of dairy sector leadership and expertise.  Agropur which is amongst the top 20 dairy leader players in the world, never stops innovating and sees innovation as a guiding principle within the organization.

Supporting Sponsor

Germin8

Germin8

Germin8 Ventures is a multi-stage, strategically-oriented venture capital firm investing in disruptive FoodTech & AgTech companies across the value chain, in various stages, globally. We’re a group of like-minded industry veterans providing investment, strategic resources and a hands-on approach to back exceptional founders improving the global food system through transformative technologies and solutions.

Supporting Sponsor

DLL

DLL

DLL is a global vendor finance company with more than EUR 30 billion in assets. Founded in 1969 and headquartered in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, DLL provides asset-based financial solutions in the Agriculture, Food, Healthcare, Clean Technology, Construction, Transportation, Industrial, Office Equipment and Technology industries. DLL partners with equipment manufacturers, dealers and distributors in more than 30 countries to support their distribution channels and help grow their businesses. DLL combines customer focus with deep industry knowledge to deliver sustainable solutions for the complete asset life cycle, including commercial finance, retail finance and used equipment finance. DLL is a wholly owned subsidiary of Rabobank Group. 

Community Partner

Republic

Republic

Republic is an investment platform for private companies to raise capital and for everyone to invest in private companies. After JOBS Act regulations were enacted in 2016, AngelList alumni spun out to launch Republic with a mission to democratize access to capital and access to angel investing. 

Community Partner

Kitchentown

Kitchentown

KitchenTown builds successful food and beverage startups by providing commercialization facilities and expertise to scale. Through educational programs, an innovation center, partnering opportunities and access to capital, KitchenTown nurtures companies from concept to small-scale production.

Community Partner

Step Two Advisors

Step Two Advisors

Step Two Advisors is a firm focused on helping CPG early stage startups in F&B. We are different because we have been in founders' shoes before and can come in as shadow executives to help our clients navigate the first years of their growth better. With expertise in Finance, Business Planning, Operations, Sales and Distribution, we cover all aspects of a COO/CFO role but for a fraction of the cost. We also work on standalone projects tailored to your needs In addition, Step Two Advisors offers due diligence work for both CPG corporations and venture capital firms.

Are you ready for the next step?

Community Partner

Mixing Bowl

Mixing Bowl

First conceived in 2013 in Silicon Valley, The Mixing Bowl stimulates the adoption of IT innovation in the food and agriculture industries through business-focused dialogue between existing industry players, start-ups, investors, and other food innovators.

It aims to foster strong bonds between the IT innovation ecosystem and the Food & Ag sectors, as well as develop strong ties between Food & Ag innovation hubs within California, across the US, and expand throughout the globe.

Community Partner

Union Kitchen

Union Kitchen

Union Kitchen is a food business accelerator based in Washington, DC. We build national food and beverage brands that grow locally and scale regionally. We use our expertise, networks, and strong local ecosystem to build businesses' success.

Community Partner

FTW Ventures

FTW Ventures

FTW Ventures is an investment & advisory group for early-stage Food & Ag Tech startups. FTW engages with the best founding teams with a mission to create radical improvements in our Food System.

Community Partner

The Chobani Food Incubator is a program for companies taking on broken food systems to bring better food to more people. In addition to investment, we give growing food and beverage companies access to our network and expertise in order to scale up their operations and achieve significant growth

Community Partner

Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network

Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network

Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network is a trade association and non-profit founded with the mission of driving inclusive economic growth in Chicagoland by bringing together the region’s food and beverage industry to explore and leverage collaborative opportunities.  CFBN acts as a platform to bring industry players together to collaborate, connect, and build.

Community Partner

Food-X

Food-X

Recognized by Fast Company as one of the world’s ten most innovative companies in food, Food-X is the #1 Food Innovation Accelerator in the world. We help food entrepreneurs bring their products and services to market at super speed. Food-X partners with early stage companies from across the food supply chain, from ag tech to consumer packaged goods.

Community Partner

FamilyFarmed

FamilyFarmed

FamilyFarmed is a Chicago-based nonprofit building a better food system by facilitating connections across the Good Food business spectrum. FamilyFarmed has created cutting-edge programs that include the Good Food EXPO, Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference, Good Food Accelerator, Farmer Training, Market Development, and Good Food Is Good Medicine, culminating in the May 2019 launch of its boldest initiative yet: Naturally Chicago — co-founded by KeHE Distributors, Presence Marketing and SPINS, and affiliated with Naturally Network in Boulder, Colorado.

Community Partner

Thought For Food

Thought For Food

Thought For Food (TFF) is the world’s leading organization dedicated to catalyzing, supporting and funding the next generation of startups and leaders for food and agriculture.

Media Partner

Food Navigator USA

Food Navigator USA

William Reed’s FoodNavigator brand has been the leading online news source for the food industry for almost 20 years, leveraging our digital-first position to bring powerful insights and robust information to help your business succeed. Our team of award-winning journalists deliver daily news, analysis, online and face to face events, podcasts and video coverage of the issues and stories impacting decision makers in the food and beverage industry.

FoodNavigator-USA provides a 360-degree view of the food and beverage market, spanning everything from investment, incubation and innovation, to ingredients, food science and product formulation, labelling, litigation, regulation, consumer trends, new products and new technology. Our editorial standards are unsurpassed and we deliver insightful content across multiple channels to the right people wherever they are operating.

Media Partner

AgFunder

AgFunder

AgFunderNews is an industry news site at the intersection of food & agriculture, technology and investment.
The site publishes daily, original news on the food and agriculture technology (“agrifood tech”) industry, including the latest funding news and analysis of trends in the sector. A hub of information for the growing startup and investment community in agrifood tech, the site also features guest commentaries and Q&As with industry experts.

AgFunderNews is affiliated with AgFunder, an online Venture Capital Platform investing in leading agrifood technology companies.

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