After 4 years as Director of Slow Money NYC, Derek Denckla is stepping down as the leader of the network. He will remain on the Board of Advisors and an active member of Foodshed Investors NY, the related angel investor group which he also helped to launch.
Denckla will be taking a full time position as Investments and Partnerships Director at National Young Farmers Coalition, a role in which he will be staying in close contact with all of his Slow Money contacts locally and nationally.
“Investing in the future viability of Young Farmers is at the core of what we have worked to emphasize at Slow Money NYC,” explains Denckla, “This new work allows me to focus more directly on a key investment that I have promoted so vocally for so long. ”
“Over the last 4 years, I coordinated Slow Money NYC as a volunteer director in balance with my consulting work. With a full-time gig, that would be too hard to accomplish. However, Slow Money NYC is mature enough now to evolve under new and different leadership.” Denckla advised.
Anyone who would like to step up as **Volunteer Director** should firstname.lastname@example.org. With the support of the Board, we will be exploring several possible ways to pay the next Director a stipend as a consultant. Also, Slow Money NYC is seeking 2-3 new Board Members to expand its Board of Advisors as a working group. Please contact the same email address with an expression of interest for Board participation.
“We should all be proud of what we have built together,” adds Denckla, “Since 2010, we have grown from a private dinner party of aligned friends to a public network of 900 members on Meetup.com.
Denckla provided some context for this moment: “In that short time, we have hosted more than a hundred events. We have led the creation of many impactful groups and programs including:
“We have raised mission-aligned money, increased awareness of the need to bring money down to earth and maintained our focus on the small, the local and the sustainable. This is a record of which we can all be proud.”
Denckla will be gradually transitioning to full-time work with National Young Farmers Coalition between now and November 17, 2014. Fittingly, the Slow Money National Gathering on November 11-12, 2014 will be the occasion during which Denckla will make the transition official.
“In thinking through this work we have done (and will continue to do) together,” Denckla reflects, “I want to express my sincerest thanks to many folks.
“To Woody Tasch for giving me the seed of an idea and nurturing our local work.”
“To Brian Kaminer for working so closely with me for many years to define and create Slow Money NYC.”
“To all of our amazing Board Members, past and present, who gave so much integrity and time to build a new vision together.”
“To all of the Foodshed Investors for putting their money where their mission is!”
“To all of our volunteers who helped us breathe life into this work.”
“To all of our partners who brought us into collaboration when we were just a wee disruptive notion.”
“To all our funders who had faith that we could make change in a finance system that controls our very sense of safety and reality.”
“And, chiefly, to all the Members who have given us your time and attention. We are the network that is Slow Money NYC.”
“Let’s keep building the relationships of this movement together!”
Ticket Price of $10.00/per person helps defray the admin costs of maintaining our network!
The average age of Farmers in the United States is about 58 years old.
Many young people want to farm but face serious challenges to raise capital. Unless we resolve this capital crisis, we face uncertainty whether our Country can feed itself in the future. No Finance, No Farms, No Food.
To help frame this important issue, we have drawn upon a wide group of experts in the “field,” including:
Slow Money NYC is delighted to host this dialogue and announce the launch of its latest solution to this serious problem facing our agricultural future: Local Farms Fund, a joint venture with Working Farms Capital.
Local Farms Fund will launch later this Fall and purchase small farms, making them available to starting farmers with a lease-to-own relationship. We hope to create a model for increasing capital to local farms and young farmers.
Food + Enterprise – February 27- March 1 – Planning for Slow Money NYC’s amazing annual event is heating up! Slow Money NYC will give a brief update on our community-building work along with a heartfelt solicitation for panelists, volunteers, mentors, coaches and SPONSORS!
Local Entrepreneur Pitches (To Be Announced) will make presentations about their Business Models at the end of the Meetup. We also provide plenty of networking time before and after the formal program.
BeetCoin! As part of the gathering Slow Money has created the ‘beet coin’ as a way of funding a couple of the local food presenters at the Gathering in an immediate way. Go to http://beetcoin.org to learn more.
About our Monthly Slow Gatherings:
Every month, we get together to network and share information about a topic, issue or idea that furthers the growth of investment in the local food system. Suggest an idea! Enterprises at all stages of growth can apply to present their business ideas at the Gathering seeking consultants, mentors and investors.
Slow Money NYC started with a few of us locals straggling up to Vermont in 2010 for the National Gathering. We did not know what to expect. And we found like-minded people searching for solutions to the problems of the food system and the finance system.
About twenty of us coming from New York so far. Join us in meeting folks from around the country and the globe for two and a half days of brilliant speakers, presentations and conversations over local food and beverage.
This year Wendell Barry is the opening Plenary Speaker. As well Vandana Shiva and Joel Salatin are also on the roster. Plus, Woody Tasch — the visionary who started this movement — will be kicking things off. And, one of our local heroes, Fig Foods will be pitching their company!
As part of the gathering Slow Money has created the ‘beet coin’ as a way of funding a couple of the local food presenters at the Gathering in an immediate way. Go to http://beetcoin.org to learn more.
A WORD FROM WOODY
Woody Tasch has written a brilliant piece on the state of money, finance, and healthy soil. It’s well worth your time – it will give you plenty to think about and act on. He’s a pretty darn good writer
The 300+ acre Brooklyn Navy Yard is mostly known for its military past. But over the last 15 years, the yard has reinvented itself as a host for new and innovative companies, including agricultural and culinary endeavors.
Such companies include Brooklyn Grange (urban farming) and Kings County Distillery (you know what that means). Most recently, Rooftop Reds and Drive Change have joined the community. Heard of them? Rooftop Reds has established a nursery vineyard on top of an old warehouse building on the Navy Yard’s northernmost pier, with the goal of creating the first true Brooklyn vintage. Drive Change is a non-profit social enterprise that hires formerly incarcerated youth, teaches them transferable culinary skills and then employs them on a food truck that serves fantastic meals all over the city, including the Navy Yard itself.
All of these businesses have garnered press attention, launched successful Kickstarter and fundraising campaigns, and raised some curious eyebrows along the way. On September 19th Rooftop Reds and Drive Change will host an event showcasing all of these efforts in the “Building 92 Museum” at the Navy Yard. If attending, you will experience a collaboration of ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit focused on separate factions of food production. See first hand what a farm distillery can produce with corn grown in an urban setting, taste food creations crafted by a culinary team using ingredients from an urban rooftop farm, and wash it all down with hand-selected wine pairings. Then stroll out to the wrap- around balcony to enjoy a panoramic view of the Navy Yard complex. If you’re looking for a way to celebrate Brooklyn’s innovative future while tipping your hat to its industrial past, this is the place you need to be.
Several years ago, Blue Marble Ice Cream opened its first retail store in the Boerum Hill section of Brooklyn, near to the home of Derek Denckla, founder and director of Foodshed Investors NY, an angel investors network dedicated to placing funds aligned with Slow Money Principles.
At the time, Denckla had small children who screamed for ice cream. As an environmental activist and green real estate developer, Denckla was immediately impressed with Blue Marble’s sustainable interior design, using recycled and repurposed materials and designating separate waste bins for recyclables — becoming more standard in NYC now, but highly unusual five years ago. Also unusual at the time was the provision of a special play area for toddlers – a godsend for parents with young children — and utensils and bowls made from compostable materials. Then, to top things off, Blue Marble made a big deal about sourcing its cream locally from organic farmers, a commitment not made by any other brand in NY. Denckla wondered: “Who are these amazing people behind this place?”
He would soon find out. Denckla was introduced to CEO Jennie Dundas in Fall of 2011 by a mutual friend. However, he was disappointed to hear that just closed its first round of capital raising from Friends and Family. Denckla and Dundas stayed in touch through an investor who participated in that first funding round, Elizabeth Crowell, who is also a member of Foodshed Investors NY (formerly NYC LION until 2014), a project of Slow Money NYC (managed by Denckla Projects).
In the interim, Dundas moved from Brooklyn upstate to enroll her son in the Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School, bringing her in daily contact with Hawthorne Valley Executive Director, Martin Ping, whose granddaughter attended the same school. Ping has been an important supporter of Slow Money and a major force in the local, sustainable food movement in NY. Ping spoke very highly of Dundas to Denckla as well.
So, when Dundas approached Denckla in the Fall of 2013 with a possible fundraising round, he jumped at the opportunity to explore possible investment in Blue Marble Ice Cream by Foodshed Investors NY. Denckla invited Dundas to apply to be screened by investors by first presenting her business model before the Slow Money NYC community at our October 2013 Meetup hosted by The Moderns, where she gave a great slide show about her sustainable approach to food business and scooped some delicious ice cream for a crowd of 60 or so. She was a big hit with the Screening Committee of Foodshed Investors NY. Blue Marble Ice Cream was invited to pitch on February 26, 2013 to our angel network of Accredited Investors.
At the Foodshed Investors NY meeting, Dundas presented with Billy Barlow, Director of Culinary and Production, and Acting Chief Financial Officer, John D’Aquila. Investors had an immediate and intense interest and a Deal Committee was formed, led by Amanda L. Fuller, whom Denckla had met and at Slow Money National Gathering in Boulder, CO and who was invited to join Foodshed Investors NY . Fuller scheduled a very well-attended site visit to Blue Marble’s local production facility in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Investors were delighted with the alignment of the business with Slow Money Principles, something hard to find. For instance, until recently, Blue Marble bought almost all its cream from MOOMilk, a company featured at a previous Slow Money Gathering.
Even more salient for investment, Blue Marble Ice Cream was that rare company that had well-organized financials, clear use and modest amount capital sought, reasonable valuation. This was an easy deal for investors to love — highly unusual for most enterprises seen by Foodshed Investors NY. Also unusual was how quickly investors moved, Deal Champion Fuller expressed interest in obtaining terms immediately. Shortly after receiving the Term Sheet and Subscription Agreement, however, Foodshed Investors NY was informed that existing investors had committed to fund more than 3/4 of the capital sought — leaving too little for the number of interested investors drawn from Foodshed Investors NY to participate.
Foodshed Investors NY had never experienced any competing demand on a deal like this before. Fuller asked Blue Marble’s principals if they would be willing to oversubscribe the funding round. Two weeks later, one of the founding partners, Alexis Miesen, agreed to sell a portion of her interest in the company to make it possible for five of the most interested investors (who committed first) to participate in the round: Denckla and Fuller were joined by Claude Arpels, Steve Fondiller and Aileen Gribben,
However, there were several other members of Foodshed Investors NY who were disappointed that they missed the window to place funds in this round. Dundas assured us that she would return to the group with a Series A Offering in the next two years, which helped settle the matter.
The five committed investors then engaged an attorney from the law firm Seward and Kissel to review the deal documents, sharing the legal costs up to an agreed upon capped amount. Investors commenced to negotiate terms and reached a mutual understanding about a month afterwards. The Closing was settled this week on July 16 and July 25, 2014 with all five investors in two tranches.
Foodshed Investors NY closed the funding of Blue Marble Ice Cream four months after its investor presentation, nine months from its slide show at Slow Money NYC Meetup and three years after Denckla first wanted to explore investing. Now, we believe this is the sort of slow, steady development of relationships that pays off for all sides to a transaction required to support sustainable local food business who helps restore our local food system.
Crowdfunding online — with sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo — has proven to be a significant and potent source of seed capital for small, local, sustainable food and farm businesses.
For instance, last Summer 2013, Slow Money NYC was proud to work with Cayuga Pure Organics to raise over $87,000 on Indiegogo Campaign to help re-build their Barn and Beanery after sustaining devastating damage by fire that was only partially covered by insurance.
In the Fall 2013, Slow Money NYC followed up with a Crowdfunding Workshop, hosting a discussion by several major sites that help food companies raise capital. Our workshop participants, led by author Amy Cortese, identified five major types of capital available on crowdfunding websites: (1) Donations, (2) Rewards (3) Pre-Payment, (4) Debt Capital and (5) Equity Capital. By far, the most popular and successful crowdfunding sites provide a platform for seeking donations (sometimes combined with rewards, sometimes not). Least popular is equity capital because it is usually only available to “accredited investors.”
Quite surprisingly, for-profit companies have been some of the most major recipients of donations on such sites as Kickstarter and Indiegogo. The prevalence of for-profit companies seeking donations for new or experimental ventures demonstrates the extent of market failure in accessing suitable capital for small and startup business in the US. Crowdfunding donationsto enterprises have emerged as an innovative way for small business to raise low risk capital.
Crowdfunding via donation also aligns with the Slow Money movement. Slow Money NYC has explored ways for more people to move from conscious consumerism to impact investing in small, local sustainable food and farm business. To honor this impulse, Slow Money NYC adopted the motto “Everyone is an Investor in Food”.
In pursuit of this ideal, Slow Money NYC has encountered substantial challenges.
Few small businesses succeed, especially startups (See “Success Rates” chart). Thus, investment in small, local sustainable business bears a high risk of loss and low chance of return. Further, securities regulations (and the cost of compliance) make investment in small business largely out of reach for all but the most well-to-do, despite some reforms recently imposed by the JOBS Act of 2012.
Slow Money NYC has promoted the understanding that investing in our common sustainable future may require a downward adjustment of expectations in favor of low, slow or no return to the investors. “Slow Money” proposes a new hybrid investment philosophy that hovers somewhere between investment and philanthropy. Hence, crowdfunding donations to social and sustainable enterprise represents a robust “slow money” strategy that allows every person to become an active investor in the change they want to see in their food system.
Accordingly, Slow Money NYC has also created its own “channel” on Indiegogo and may act as a “trustee” for loans on KivaZip. If any entrepreneur would like to participate on either of these platforms, please contact us.
Slow Money NYC will also regularly feature crowdfunding campaigns of its friends, starting with this blog post! So, while we are working on our tans this Summer, we can help entrepreneurs expand their business through crowdfunding.
Here’s a sample of some ongoing crowdfunding for local food companies:
DONATION + REWARD
ROCKAWAY BREWING CO.
4 days to go! Seeking $30,000 for Canning Machinery. Raised $14,077.
56 days to go. Seeking $50,000 to build greenhouse. Raised $8525.
The goal of “Fort Hen”, our chicken coop at the Imani Garden, is to teach people how to raise their own hens in the city. Raising chickens in the city can reduce a person’s environmental footprint through a reduction in transportation of eggs and meat, a decrease in food waste sent to the landfill, decrease in energy and harmful chemicals used in producing their food and a decrease in gasoline use for motorized tillers and garden implements. And, of course, raising chickens is fun! We want to provide people with the knowledge and skills necessary to raise healthy, happy chickens.
Campaign On-going, indefinite. Featured at Slow Money NYC Meetup in 2013 and Pitch Competition in 2014. Meadow Butter: Pasture Enhanced, Sun Infused
Kriemhild Dairy Farms uses healthy grass fed milk for its sweet cream, barrel churned Meadow Butter. Our goals are to create exceptional food while improving the quality of our community and incorporating methods that reduce our impact on the environment.
We’re now ready to expand our grass fed product line! We’ve spent months planning and are working to secure significant funding for a farmstead creamery. With your commitment, we will be able to: (1) purchase the necessary equipment to expand our product line; (2) install renewable energy systems such as solar thermal; and (3) retrofit a drainage system which will allow us to turn waste water into irrigation water for the pasture. Use your edible credits to purchase butter now and our expanded product line coming soon.
HUDSON VALLEY SEED LIBRARY
Total Loan: $10,000. Raised $5,125. Commenced July 11, 2014. We are a seed company which has distinguished ourselves by choosing to grow our own seeds in the Northeast and commissioning artists to create original works for our eye-catching seed packs. Our unique business model, which includes an optional membership based seed library program, along with our art, has helped us grow quickly. Use of Funds: Now that we have a strong and enthusiastic online customer base and extensive wholesale accounts, we want to even out our cash flow by developing products, related to who we are and our customer’s needs, that can be sold during our typical “off season.”
RETURN ON CHANGE
IROQUOIS VALLEY FARMS
Featured at Slow Money National Gathering in Boulder Colorado, April 2013.
Date: Wednesday, June 11th
Time: 6pm – 9pm
Location: Impact Hub NYC / 394 Broadway, NY, NY 10013 RSVP here.
Impact Hub is opening their doors and inviting the social & environmental impact community to explore their new 3-story space with a roaming, world cafe-style experience hosted by local impact organizations. Impact Hub is a shared workspace & events platform for a global community of entrepreneurs, activists, artists & professionals who believe in the power of business to accelerate social & environmental change. Learn more at impacthubnyc.com. Come say hello, bring old friends, meet new friends, enjoy refreshing drinks + snacks, and engage in meaningful conversation. RSVP here.
To B or Not to B Corp Certified? Workshop
Date: June 18, 2014
Time: 6:00-8:00 pm
Location: 61 Local, 61 Bergen St, Brooklyn NY 11201 (Community Room – Upstairs)
RSVP: Slow Money NYC Meetup
Join us for this Slow Money NYC Meetup in which Sophie Faris from B Lab leads a workshop on the challenges particular to food and farming companies seeking B Corp Certification, a standard for positive impact, calling on the experiences of entrepreneurs who have been through the process such as Sarah Endline of Sweet Riot and Jon Zeltsman of Down To Earth Markets. Special presentation from Museum of Food and Drink and Lightning Pitches from entrepreneurs in our extended community.
Briefing on Food Policy Action
Date: June 20, 2014
Time: 10:00-11:00 am
Location: Jewish Funders Network, 150 W 30th St, New York, NY 10001
Free! RSVP to Samantha Anderson at email@example.com
Claire Benjamin, the Managing Director of Food Policy Action, will speak this Friday at a special meeting to discuss the organization’s agenda and pressing issues for the food movement. A recent profile in NY Times of Celebrity Chef Tom Colicchio highlighted his work with FPA. Food Policy Action was established in 2012 through a collaboration of national food policy leaders in order to hold legislators accountable for their votes on food and farming through education and publication of the National Food Policy Scorecard. Learn more: http://foodpolicyaction.org/
Access to Capital for Food and Beverage Enterprises
Date: June 24, 2014
Time: 10:00 am – 3:30 pm
Location: Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY Register Now
Empire State Development, The Federal Reserve Bank of NY and NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets are co-sponsoring a forum to help businesses identify traditional and nontraditional sources to Capital. If you’re involved in agriculture, food or beverage enterprise please join us. Derek Denckla, Network Director of Slow Money NYC will be speaking on a panel. Register Now
Hack Dining with Food + Tech Connect
Hack the future of dining to catalyze a revolution in food. Ambitious, no? From June 27-29, Food+Tech Connect, in partnership with Applegate,Google, Chipotle and Studio Industries, is bringing restaurant and foodservice rabble-rousers together to hack the future of dining at Hack//Dining NYC.Throughout the hackathon, a series of classes and panels will give the restaurant community insights into better business practices. Tickets are $35 for classes and $15 for the panel on Saturday, June 28. We’re also offering a limited number of packages for all three for just $60. Space is limited, so snag your tickets here.
1:30 PM – 3:00 PM Developing a Restaurant Technology Strategy 101 class with ShopKeep
3:15 PM – 4:45 PM Scaling + Branding Your Business class with Felicia Stingone (formerly of USHG)
5:00 PM – 6:15 PM Best practices in Employee Hiring panel with Culintro, Culinary Agents, Easy Pairings. Moderated by Leiti Hsu.
Funding for Food: Financing Workshop
with NYBDC & Accion
Date: Tuesday, July 1st
Time: 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Place: The Entrepreneur’s Space, 36-46 37th St, Long Island City
Finding financing to grow a small business is a common challenge for food entrepreneurs, traditional bank financing can be hard to get and funding programs are often confusing. To help shed some light on the process, we have teamed up with our friends at the The Entrepreneur’s Space to host a financing workshop and networking event.
Our presenters from New York Business Development Corporation (NYBDC) and Accion will provide information on the NYC Food Manufacturers Growth Fund and other opportunities available for financing the growth of your business. In addition to information on both organization’s financial products, NYBDC and Accion staff will also provide guidance on what lenders are looking for and advise on how to craft a competitive application. This is a great opportunity to speak with lenders about your specific situation, and to check out the facilities up at The Entrepreneur’s Space!
Fresh Connection, a customized logistics and delivery service for farm products based in Brooklyn, won Food +Enterprise: Pitch Competition, presented as part of Food Book Fair at Wythe Hotel on April 25, 2014. The Winner was chosen by a panel of 5 expert judges from among
Mariana Cotlear gives Honorarium to Winner
ten amazing local and sustainable food enterprises. Mariana Cotlear, Marketing Strategist for Event Sponsor Chipotle, presented an oversized check for the $500 honorarium made out to “Mark Jaffe,” (pictured right) Founder and CEO of Fresh Connection.
The Pitch Competition was one part of Food + Enterprise, a day-long gathering that included an Entrepreneur Clinic, featuring 45Mentors and Coaches, and Anatomy of a Deal, giving a rare glimpse of how a Foundation and Investors collaborated to support Farm to Table Copackers. The event was sold out almost two weeks in advance and produced by NE Foodshed Finance
Full House at Wythe
Alliance, a newly-formed collaborative coalition aiming to increase capital access for social enterprises accelerating change in the local food system. Food + Enterprise was produced by key leaders of this new effort, namely, Slow Money NYC, GrowNYC, NRDC, Community Food Funders, Sustainable Agriculture and Food System Funders and Acción. Food + Enterprise was attended by over 500 people. (Psst . . .Participants please fill out a post-event Evaluation). “I had no real idea that I might win,” Jaffe stated, “I just stated the case for my company’s role in improving the food system as best I could. I guess the judges saw the value in what I’ve been doing.” Jaffe was being modest. He received two perfect scores of “5” for an aggregate score of 23.5 out of a possible 25 — an occurrence we have not seen before at previous Pitch Competitions — or with any other competitor. A score of “5” indicates that a business is “ready to fund today” and is most aligned to the Investment Criteria designated for the Pitch Competition, as laid out in greater detail below. So, we expect great things from Fresh Connection.
Liz Neumark, Pitch Judge
Something about Fresh Connection struck a chord with our panel of judges, all of whom have been deep experience working to make change in the food system. “You are either crazy or courageous or both,” joked Judge Liz Neumark, (pictured right) CEO of Great Performances Catering and Katchkie Farms. “Either way,” she continued, “what you are doing is vitally necessary, not sexy and absolutely under-appreciated.” Impressive Runner Up Enterprises
The Winner faced stiff competition from 9 other Food Enterprises. Second place was awarded to Kriemhild Dairy Farms, producer of Meadow Butter and other products made from grass fed dairy in Hamilton, NY, near the Canadian border. “I was reassured we’ve been doing things ‘right’ when three of our five judges were already fans of our product!” exclaimed co-owner Lindsey Jakubowski (pictured left). “I enjoyed the whole thing and it was inspirational on so many levels (minus my car getting towed).” Welcome to the “joys” of NYC parking regulations.
Third place went to Radicle Farms, producer of hydroponic greens in urban areas in NJ, sold with roots — or radicles– attached and farmed with help from disabled workers. “We learned so much from the Pitch Prep Workshop and we really valued connecting with other Entrepreneurs.” said CEO Christopher Washington (pictured right).
Every Enterprise Was a Winner
Gudelio Garcia & Erica Dorn
In reality, all the companies that pitched were winners. “Our version of winning: [Judge] Liz Neumark said our CSA tote bag was one of her favorites!” explained Erica Dorn with a laugh, CSA Coordinator for El Poblano Farm, growing Mexican specialty crops on Staten Island, who acted as translator for Farmer Gudelio Garcia (pictured left) during their joint presentation — an important bilingual milestone for our Pitch Competition. “It felt incredible to be so supported by the 9 other entrepreneurs in the pitch– a true showcase of diversity and ingenuity of the food movement in the New York region.”
In addition to the intensive half-day Pitch Prep Workshop provided for each entrepreneur, Food + Enterprise provided a uniquely targeted opportunity to make lasting business connections with other entrepreneurs. In fact, as an example, Radicle Farms will soon be supplying its produce to Field Goods,Brooklyn Kitchen and possibly Greenmarkets Co. and Betony Restaurant. That’s quite another sort of winning!
Diversity in Many Dimensions
Diversity was a consistent theme of this year’s Pitch Competition: “I loved being a part of such a diverse group of entrepreneurs working in such different parts of the food world.” said Diana Lovett, (pictured right) Founder, Cissé Trading Company, that makes baking mixes using Fair Trade Cocoa processed in Auburn, NY. And the diversity this year extended beyond the types of businesses — to the types of people behind them — 6 of the companies are led or co-led by women and 3 are helmed by people of color.
Most entrepreneurs, like Arshad Bahl, (pictured right) CEO of Amrita Health Foods told us that participating in Food + Enterprise was its own reward: “The process of learning from and presenting to this incredible community of like-minded food entrepreneurs reinforced that the sustainable food revolution has significant momentum.” He added “It feels so great to have this strong support system to help the seed that I planted, less than 2 years ago, take strong root and flourish.” Arshad’s company makes Plant Based Energy Bars using many local ingredients and free from the top 8 major allergens.
On Being the “New Kid”
“It’s uphill battle with Judges when you are presenting a whole new category of beverage,” offered Raphael Lyon, Founder of Enlightenment Wines, producer of unique wines concocted in Clintondale, NY from honey and fruits produced in New York. Judge Michael Hurwitz, Director of Greenmarkets NYC, agreed: “Your
biggest opportunity and your biggest challenge is that you don’t have competition. Introducing the customer to a product they have never tasted before is tough.” Despite being a bit of “new kid,” Lyon lit up the crowd with warm laughter when he mentioned his unique bootstrap marketing method which he labeled: “Community Support Alcohol” — a riff on Community Supported Agriculture.
The Show (Business) Must Go On!
“I didn’t expect to get teary-eyed about when I started to speak about the Field Goods team.” admitted Donna Williams, Founder & President, Field Goods, LLC, who employs developmentally disabled adults in addition to delivering local produce to central drop points, like offices and health clubs.Caroll Lee and Nicole Chaszar of Provenance Mealsand The Splendid Spoon, respectively — also did amazing jobs telling their stories and making a case for investment in their early stage efforts.
Judges Jon Zeltsman, President of Down To Earth Markets, Taylor Erkkinen, Founder of Brooklyn Kitchen and Elly Truesdell, NE Forager for Whole Foods, all brought their “A” games too, providing amazing insights and valuable suggestions to the Entrepreneurs. “Just to be able to get these amazing judges attention and
honest feedback was a real honor,” said Nicole Chaszar, Founder of The Splendid Spoon. And, for the second year in a row, Emilie Baltz, Founder of Baltz Works, was once again a masterful MC. She kept things lively, light and moving along schedule (despite the previous panel running overtime!). Three Cheers and Thanks to All!
Last Year’s Models, Good as New
Last Year’s Pitch Winner
At the beginning and end, we gave Enterprises from last year’s Pitch Competition a chance to update us on their progress. Michael Ray Robinov kicked things off with a video about Farm to People, his online farmer’s market site.
And, concluding the proceedings, Angela Fout gave us the news on Sohha Yogurt, last year’s Winner. Sohha has attracted amazing press — including being named Best Yoghurt by New York Magazine — and it is selling at over 15 retail outlets and farmers markets in NYC and Westchester. We are all amazingly proud to have been a small part of Sohha’s success story so far.
What About Your Enterprise Winning Next Year?
And now, it’s up to you Social Enterprise Dreamers! You will have to put your axe to the grindstone and sharpen your approach so that you may join us for the Pitch Competition next year.
Appendix: What Criteria Guided Judges in Voting?
During the Pitch Competition, Entrepreneurs were evaluated using the following Investment Criteria established by Slow Money NYC:
Small, local and sustainable orientation in the business.
Immediate and tangible impact on accelerating positive change in the local, sustainable food system.
Food processed or produced in NY foodshed (CT, MA, PA, NJ, NY or VT) serving NYC markets. Not just a marketing and sales office HQ’d in NY area.
Credible plan, experienced management and competent advisors with clear path to near-term execution and profitbality realized by raising funds.
Best of its type among similar businesses.
In addition, Judges looked at a variety of impact criteria to evaluate each business:
Environment: Reducing Wasting, Contaminants and Emission — Using Resources Sustainably
Equity: Improving Working Conditions, Living Wages and/or Increasing Access to Food and Just Distribution of Resources
Vibrant Communities: Foster Community Engagement – Care of the Commons — Support Development of Local Economies
An article by Emily Main that appeared in Rodale News, interviewing Derek Denckla, Network Coordinator for Slow Money NYC.
Around April 15th of every year, people fill out their tax forms and maybe hand over a chunk of their earnings to the IRS and their local and state governments. It’s a fact of life no one can avoid.
But have you ever thought about where that money goes? The nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) has calculated that $9 billion in taxpayer money was paid to farmers as insurance and other subsidies in 2013, and much of that went to farmers who were already billionaires and didn’t need the help. That same year, the bottom 80 percent of farmers who aren’t wealthy got about $5,000 apiece, according to EWG.
While you may never be able to opt out of taxes, you can opt out of supporting big agriculture operations, and do tons to support small farmers in your day-to-day life, says Derek Denckla, chair of the New York City chapter of Slow Money, a national nonprofit committed to increasing investment in local food systems. “The majority of people invest in the stock market, but we want people to invest in their local food system.”
Shopping at your farmer’s market is a great place to start—but it’s far from your only option. “You can think of investing in a variety of different ways,” he says, and you don’t need thousands of dollars and a stockbroker to start….
#1: Shop locally. Even if you don’t have any extra money lying around, you can invest some of your weekly food budget in a local food business, be that a farmer’s market, a locally owned bakery, or a butcher shop that sells regionally raised meats. This kind of “conscientious consumerism” is even as simple as asking your favorite restaurant or grocery store if they use local ingredients.
#2: Join a CSA. If you have a bit more cash on hand (like, say, an IRS refund), invest it in a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program. These are investments in their own way, Denckla says, because you’re buying shares in a farmer’s harvest similar to the way a stockbroker buys shares in a company, only you profit in fresh veggies rather than money (and after all, you can’t eat money!). Of course, it can come with similar risks: If some disaster wipes out a farmer’s crop, you’re still out the money. But the farmer at least has some financial support to rebuild his or her farm for the next season.
Join Derek Denckla and Slow Money NYC on Friday, April 25, 2014, for Food + Enterprise, a daylong program dedicated to promoting change in the local food system, presented as part of the Food Book Fair. Buy a Day Pass Here.
#3: Move your money to a credit union. Big banks lend money to big companies, but small banks and credit unions are more likely to keep their loans close to home. “Move your money into a local credit union, and that allows those lending institutions that are aligned to your values to loan funds to businesses that you care about,” Denckla says. You might find a credit union that lends only to food and farming businesses, and some even provide no-interest loans to people who’d like to join a CSA but don’t have the $200 to $500 it can cost to buy a share.
#4: Give a local business a leg up. Thanks to sites like Kickstarter.com andIndiegogo.com, it’s easier than ever to invest in local businesses and nonprofits looking to get off the ground or expand their operations. And there’s no minimum investment, so you can help out as much as your credit-union account will allow.
#5: Be an “angel investor.” This might be an option only for the 5 percent, says Denckla, but “if you have $1,000 to spare, you have the minimum amount to place in funds that have a more direct impact on things you care about.” For instance, one small nonprofit called Equity Trust invests in farmland preservation and allows lenders to pick the repayment interest rate, so you can get some return on your investment. Another national group, RSF Social Finance, offers a variety of investment funds that support food and agriculture operations that benefit people locally and regionally. You can find other social-investing opportunities atSlowMoney.org.
Local food. Local fuel. Local finance. All these popular ideas can help us build a more resilient local economy, and that means an even better community to live in.
On March 20, 2014, authors and locavists from North Carolina, Carol Peppe Hewitt (author of Financing Our Foodshed: Growing Local Food with Slow Money, and Lyle Estill (author of numerous books on alternative energy and local activism) are bringing “Running On Local” to Brooklyn for the evening.
When: Thursday, March 20, 2014 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM Where: Egg Restaurant
109A North 3rd Street, Brooklyn, NY (edit map)
Restaurant Closed for This Private Event. Please Knock Gently on Door.
Ticket: $15.00/per person RSVP by joining Slow Money NYC Meetup and visiting the event page: http://www.meetup.com/Slow-Money-NYC/events/168066452/
“I heard an inspiring idea, in 2010,” Hewitt explains, “of moving money into the hands of farmers and the local food businesses that support local, sustainable farming. It was called Slow Money, and I tried it and it worked.”
If that’s not inspiration enough, Hewitt has teamed up with Lyle Estill, who is well known in alternative energy circles.
“In a world of global doom and gloom,” remarks Estill, “there are ways to localize all aspects of your life.” He should know. He runs one of the few surviving community-scale biofuel operations in the Southeast, turning waste cooking oil into about one million gallons of B100 biofuel each year.
Together they host a powerful conversation they call “Running On Local” and are taking their message and expertise from Miami, to Orlando, to Beaufort and Charleston, SC before heading up to Washington DC, NYC and Western MA.
Don’t miss this rare chance to meet and talk with these pioneers in local food, local fuel, and local finance while they are in our area as they travel the East Coast on their Speaking Tour.