On August 29, 2013, Funding Post held its first Food Investing Conference at the International Culinary Center in Manhattan sponsored by Soho Loft, SocialRadius and law firm, Greeberg Traurig. The event was Sold Out and well-attended in a modest-sized meeting room. Slow Money NYC Co-Chair, Derek Denckla, spoke on the first panel of the day entitled “Early-Stage Food and Food-Tech Investing: How to meet investors, pitch them, and what it really takes to get them to write you a check!” chaired by founder of ArcAngel fund, Tom Nicholson. Denckla introduced the funding priorities of seeking companies that were small, local and sustainable rather than scalable, global and purely profit-driven. The reaction of other panelists could be characterized as curiosity, interest and respect.
Investors from NYC LION were well-represented at this event, including Co-Chair, Brian Kaminer, Doron Goldstein, Jacob Israelow, David Robinov and Peter Strugatz. As usual at such conferences, the vast majority of the attendees were companies seeking financing — very few of which were either “local” or sustainable.
However, Slow Money NYC was an exhibitor and our investors made some good connections with new local food businesses, such as Purple Grace Exquisite Tea (Blended Ready-to-Drink Bottled Teas), Becky’s Bites (Vegan Baked Goods), SaucySauce (Vietnamese Condiments), Astoria Distilling Co. (Gin) and Picnic in the Park. We also re-connected with a local, sustainable food entrepreneurs doing great work, Joel Henry from Fig Food Co (Organic Soups & Beans in Plastic Pouches) and Anish Malhorta from Le Pain Quotidien. In addition, we encountered two innovative Philadelphia companies, Cowshare.com, a whole animal CSA, and RealFoodWorks.com, a healthy meal delivery service using excess capacity at restaurants to reduce overhead.
We made good connections with the other panelists, such as Alain Bankier (NY Angels), Sam Klepfish (Innovative Food Holdings and Tri State Ventures) and Toan C. Huynh (37 Angels). Several panelists praised Mouth.com, a company founded by Denckla and featured at Slow Money NYC’s 2012 Showcase. A wide variety of investors were represented — Venture Capitalists, Angels, Funds and Corporate.
The day began with Funding Post founder, Joe Rubin, giving a Pitching Workshop. During this workshop, Rubin gave an overview of the most important elements of a pitch, reminding companies that this was an introduction not the last word. We were pleased that his instructions to entrepreneurs matched the Presentation Guidelines used by Slow Money NYC (and soon to be posted on this site). Next, Rubin deconstructed elevator pitches given by companies on-the-spot. He worked with companies to formulate a clean and concise story giving the important information that investors need to hear the most.
An interesting keynote was offered by Benjamin Lee of Circle Up, “Using Crowdfunding for food companies.” Circle Up focuses on introducing “accredited” investors to funding opportunities with Consumer Package Goods (CPG) Companies, many of which are local and sustainable. He warned that the crowdfunding rules have yet to be formulated by the Securities And Exchange Commission, so all precautions about registering securities should be maintained as before the JOBS Act.
In conclusion, Slow Money NYC and NYC LION investors introduced our unique investing perspective to a conference composed of members of the more traditional financing community. Overall, we found the investors interested and respectful and wanting to hear more. We will continue to reach out to the companies and investors that we met at this event. And we will keep you posted about the outcomes!