"What's the catch?"
March was one of the most exciting months we’ve had at The Food Loft. We welcomed a few more food startups into our office, and were able to pass on a lot of new value to members here. Here’s a recap:
After hearing from a number of food startup founders that it’s hard to find mentors in food, we launched the Food Loft Mentor Network. 20 food entrepreneurs and startup service providers from companies like General Mills, Drizly and Silicon Valley Bank have joined to help food startups work through challenges and grow. You can read more about the network on Bostinno.
We also participated in the Sustainable Business Network's 6th annual Local Food Trade Show at Northeastern University where we networked with food companies and wholesale producers. If you haven't been to an SBN event you have to check them out: they have the most fun concepts all to benefit great causes and local producers. Read more about SBN here.
Then it was off to New York! We partnered with Millennial 2020 for their Future of E-Commerce conference and extended passes on to our members. The Food Loft crew zeroed in on the food and beverage stage and learned how to adapt marketing, sales, and company missions to attract millennial consumers. We heard from leaders in food innovation from companies like Chobani, Impossible Foods, Nestlé and Eataly as well as up-and-coming names making big waves in food like Imperfect Produce, Back To The Roots, Banza and Edenworks. The future of food is looking innovative, healthier, and delicious.
Back in Boston, we headed to Hotel Commonwealth for Journee's first conference outside of New York. Their mission is to bring restaurant professionals together to inspire and help them in pursuit of their dreams. They invited Food Lofters and our mentors to join in for free (thank you Sam!) In addition to eating one of the best donuts we’ve ever had, we spent the afternoon hearing from Boston restaurant greats, tasting wine and spices, and connecting with people from all corners of the restaurant community. We ended the day with a conversation on supporting immigrants in our communities both as customers and as food business owners. It was a great way to leave with a to-do that supports our restaurant ecosystem.
We wrapped up back at the office for a legal workshop with Food Loft mentor Cara and her colleague Ed from WilmerHale. We met 8 new Boston food companies and talked through topics like trademarks, incorporating your business, protecting IP and bring on employees. One thing we love about these workshops is how quick people in the room are to share advice with other entrepreneurs. Earlier stage food companies were able to learn from people who were further along and had a lot of the steps to starting a business done already. Thank you both to Cara, Ed, and to everyone who shared their experiences with us - it was really helpful!
We had a lot of fun exploring more of the food world with our members. We’d love to share these opportunities with you, too. Click here to check out ways to get involved in The Food Loft.
We're happy to report that April is looking like it will be just as exciting... stay tuned!
Boston is an incredible city for building companies. Many of the greats in tech and healthcare have build their businesses here, and their leadership is active in the community helping entrepreneurs get their ideas off the ground.
We see these groups of mentors come together around places like MassChallenge, The New England Venture Capital Association, TechStars, creating an easy place for entrepreneurs to go for help. As we welcome more and more food companies into the Food Loft community, we've heard that it's harder for food and foodtech founders to find mentors that understand the specifics of the food industry. We set out to change that.
We're excited to share the launch of The Food Loft Mentor Network, an initiative that connects food business leaders and food startups from across Boston’s innovation, media and investment arenas. The goal of the mentor network is to provide startups with access to strategic advisement and targeted assistance tackling specific business needs and problems.
Mentors within the network bring expertise in food packaging and design, marketing, e-commerce and direct-to-consumer sales models, fundraising, startup operations, community outreach, restaurant-tech innovation and more.
We received over a dozen enthusiastic yeses for this initial launch, and are excited to watch it grow. We can’t wait to see what these collaborations bring to the food space.
The Food Loft Mentor Network is an open access initiative, meant to engage startups from both within and outside of the Food Loft network. Check out the full list of active mentors here.
If you are a food or foodtech startup interested in access to the Mentor Network, or want to participate as a mentor, please reach out to our Community Manager, Casey for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org.
An interesting discussion on Cofounders Lab today that talks about planning a round of fundraising in terms of runway.
"Runway" and "burn rate" are two important factors when considering a fundraising round (and when operating a startup business in general).
Runway: the amount of time (usually in months) that you have until your company runs out of money.
Burn rate: the amount of money the company spends to operate in excess of income. For early-stage companies the largest contributor to high burn rates is usually salaries.