I’m somewhat involved with the startup scene in my city and read a lot about startups, so I found this recent news rather interesting and relevant. My favorite Greek yogurt company Chobani is opening and sponsoring a food incubator to help invest and grow food companies that are focused on natural and affordable foods.
From the website:
We’ve been on a mission since day one to provide better food to more people. We believe that access to nutritious, delicious food made with only natural ingredients is a right, not a privilege. As we’ve grown, our mission has taken us beyond the food we make and into the broader communities we reach, allowing us to meet more people who believe that better food should be accessible to all. This inspired us to create the Chobani Food Incubator — to help nurture, support, and celebrate today’s entrepreneurs who have founded young and growing companies inspired by our same beliefs, so that together we can positively shape the food industry of tomorrow.
From their press release:
Chobani announced today its plan to open the Chobani Food Incubator, a first-of-its-kind program to invest in and cultivate emerging food entrepreneurs. Chobani Food Incubator will invest in, support, and scale young and growing companies inspired by Chobani’s belief in making delicious, nutritious, affordable food made with only natural ingredients that positively shapes the food industry of tomorrow.
Building on Chobani¹s mission to create better food for more people, the Chobani Food Incubator will give food entrepreneurs the resources, workspace and support to launch and disrupt their respective categories. The Chobani Incubator will be based in New York City and will include a commercial kitchen and office space. Going beyond a shared kitchen, the six-month program is intended to provide collaboration with the Chobani leadership team, classes and training programs. Chobani also expects to provide direct access to top chefs and food leaders in the industry, facilitating contacts with its extensive network.
Today we’re opening our doors to entrepreneurs who share our vision for better food for tomorrow – food that’s natural and affordable, said Hamdi Ulukaya, Founder and CEO, Chobani. Making a product the right way is not always easy, but we¹ve proven that the model works. I¹m excited to work with entrepreneurs who share our goal and who can benefit from our experience.
The incubator program will culminate in a demo day where each company will have the opportunity to present to the leading food distributors and retailers.
Chobani will open the call for pitches from interested entrepreneurs in December 2014, and will select up to 10 companies to join the first round. To receive updates, please visit Chobani.com/foodincubator.
Most incubators I’m aware of are in the tech space and tend to accept and focus on tech related startups. However, food incubators are apparently a big thing these days.
If you want to get in shape, you can join a gym. But if you want to start a food business, where do you go?
Try a culinary incubator.
Just as gym members share workout equipment, members of many food incubators share commercial kitchen space.
Incubators also offer business support and technical assistance — like branding, sales and distribution — to help “foodpreneurs” get off the ground.
“The food incubator model has really grown in the last several years, from virtually no food incubators to probably about 200 [or more] in the U.S.,” Andrea Bell, the founder of Chef’s Kitchen in Los Angeles, Calif., tells us.
And why such growth? With the booming demand for specialty and artisanal foods, incubators can help hungry entrepreneurs get started in a licensed kitchen at a fraction of the price of leasing their own space.
It’s interesting to see another food focused incubator, especially one focused one focused on the kind of food we need more of in our society. Since there is such a high rate of failure around food businesses (and all new businesses really), this is a great resource for anyone who has a fantastic idea and doesn’t know how to get to that next level. There are a few food bloggers who have started businesses that could benefit from this so hopefully they can enter and get accepted. The more healthy and affordable food out there, the better!