Around 10 successful early stage companies - which could be in anything from mobile apps, food delivery, or meal kits - will be selected to participate in the 16-week program where they will get access to inspirational entrepreneurs such as Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Ben Cohen and Blue Hill executive chef & savory yogurt pioneer Dan Barber (click HERE).
They will also get up to $50k funding for an 8% equity stake and intensive coaching in all areas required for launching and running a business, as well as mentoring from a team of seasoned food & beverage entrepreneurs.
Some of the companies we select are still at concept stage
While it is not unusual to see VCs invest in and mentor early stage technology companies, this is more unusual in the food industry, where incubators typically provide practical support (kitchen space, technical advice) but not money, and investors are often reluctant to part with cash until firms have proven themselves, said Food-X founder Shen Tong.
“Some of the companies we support are still at concept stage, others might be at a million dollar run rate. We’re supporting more than 20 food companies a year, and we also have other accelerator programs for different industries, so collectively we’re talking about a lot of businesses and a huge number of mentors that they can learn from.
“The amount of money available and the number of companies we’re supporting is very unusual,” added Tong, a serial entrepreneur, angel investor, and social activist who was an organizer of the democracy movement in 1989 that occupied Tiananmen Square while he was at Beijing University.
“What’s also unique is that Food-X is backed by a multi-stage evergreen fund [where capital is supplied in incremental payments throughout the development phase of the company], and we take a long term view. We’re a mission-focused business accelerator and we’re looking for entrepreneurs that are aware of their social impact and want to build an ecosystem for better food, that can do well by doing good.
"We're looking for companies that are healthy, sustainable and systemically disruptive.”
We’re looking for companies that are healthy, sustainable and systemically disruptive
He added: “We’re also set up to provide follow-up funding for up to three rounds after the accelerator phase. But we don’t want to own more than 20% of a business. We want the founders to end up with a real chance of owning more than half of the company. 60% of our companies do crowd financing; we also help people find access to capital that doesn’t involve giving away equity in the company.”
Typically, three out of four companies that go through SOSVentures accelerator programs change their names, while more than half change their product radically as they go through the program. Companies are evaluated using 17 filter criteria to assess a business’s mission, viability, and team.
The first accelerator class included FoodieForAll, which delivers to business customers from top restaurants; smoothie delivery service Green Blender; Greenease, a mobile app that connects consumers to restaurants, cafes and grocers buying from local and/or sustainable farms; Munchquick, an on-demand lunch delivery service; Nextdoorganics, a triple bottom line local food distribution company sourcing from urban farmers and food makers; and Training Meals, which delivers healthy meals cooked sous vide.
Click HERE for more information on Food-X.
Click HERE for more on SOSVentures.