On November 13th, Slow Money NYC and GrowNYC partnered to host the Good Food Spotlight at Project Farmhouse. GrowNYC’s Project Farmhouse was a fantastic location to bring together food entrepreneurs in a central, supportive, and collaborative environment. Project Farmhouse is based on the idea of creating a central space for New Yorkers to “get closer to our food, to the land, and to our neighbors”, and November’s Good Food Spotlight, where food entrepreneurs can network, mingle, and air out business challenges, fit in snugly with Project Farmhouse’s platform.
Each Spotlight event follows a similar timeline: entrepreneurs present a business challenge they face and gather feedback from the expert panel as well as a live-audience poll. The expert panelists at November’s event included Patricia Duffy, curator of Foodmaking Campaigns for Women You Should Fund and Slow Money NYC board member, Christopher Wayne, FARMroots Director with GrowNYC, and Amanda Fuller, Impact Investor and Entrepreneur at RootedNY.
The five businesses at November’s event were:
- GrowNYC’s Greenmarket Regional Grains Project, a project working to build the marketplace for grains grown and milled in the northeast.
- Green Top Farms, a “farm-to-office” catering company, serving dozens of companies lunch on a regular basis and growing their own microgreens.
- GrowSquares, launching an urban gardening system to help make outdoor gardening easier, more productive, and simple enough that anyone can participate.
- Eat2Explore, an educational, subscription-free, farm-to-table meal kit delivery service for families.
- Food Moves, a marketplace that connects Mobile Food Vendors, including food trucks and farmers’ markets, to consumers and suppliers.
Although all Spotlight events follow a similar timeline, the different location, audience, expert panelists, and presenters at different events create a unique experience at each. We asked Slow Money NYC board members who attended November’s event to weigh in on their experience.
The presenters at November’s Spotlight were very different, but common threads stood out. Rachel Crawford reflected,
“A few of the companies presenting all shared the desire to incorporate social good into their missions…and specifically to collaborate with schools/provide kids with healthy food options. Their businesses were quite different otherwise, but shared that value. Of course that makes sense for businesses attracted to the idea of Slow Money, but it’s much easier to launch a business without worrying about a charitable component at the beginning.”
Other attendees also noticed that several of the presenting entrepreneurs discussed the pull between social good and economic realities. Claude Arpels highlighted the role of patience in these ventures:
“I was especially interested to hear the Regional Grain Project’s realization that they would need several years to transition from a non-profit effort to a for-profit venture. While it sometimes seems that changes in the food system are occurring quickly, changes in the economic landscape are often slow. Their presentation highlighted the continued need for philanthropic and patient capital in local food system change.”
Although there were commonalities, the diversity of experience present at Good Food Spotlight events presents valuable learning opportunities. The environment at Good Food Spotlight events aims to create a place for learning and conversation, although networking happens too. Steve Fondiller said that he “enjoyed talking with early-stage entrepreneurs. They mentioning being inspired by the businesses’ presentations and willingness to ask good questions. I see Good Food Spotlight as a place to learn as well as network.”
November’s Good Food Spotlight was a great place to learn! Big thanks go out to the expert panelists and presenters as well as to Start Small Think Big who introduced themselves at the event.
The next Slow Money NYC Good Food Spotlight will be January 22, 2017 at Inside Park at St. Bart’s. Register here now or join our MeetUp group to get updates.
Food companies interested in presenting at future Spotlights should apply here!