Good Food on Every Table!

FamilyFarmed is a non-profit organization committed to expanding the production, marketing and distribution of locally grown and responsibly produced food, in order to enhance the social, economic, and environmental health of our communities.

Good Food Accelerator

Needs: The Good Food movement needs thriving food and farm businesses. These businesses are fueling the rapidly expanding markets for sustainably produced local food. Many farmers and entrepreneurs require help to develop the business skills and access to resources that allow them to successfully launch or expand profitable businesses.

Our Response: The Good Food Accelerator, launched by FamilyFarmed in 2014, provides competitively selected Fellows with a six-month curriculum, mentoring, strategic and technical support, networking opportunities, and access to providers of capital or loans for new or growing Good Food businesses. Fellows participate in a program that builds business skills, pairs them with industry-leading mentors, and connects them to potential customers and investors.

Nine businesses participated in each of the Accelerator’s first three cohorts — 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17. All 27 completed the program successfully, and all have cited benefits from participating in the program.

Graduates of the second cohort reported a 239 percent market increase for their businesses in the months after their April 2016 graduation, and all of Fellows say they directly applied what they learned to their business practices.

At the point of graduation, 89 percent of second cohort Fellows said they were already better prepared to launch or expand, and to increase their sales. More than half said they were better prepared to create new jobs. And all of the cohort Fellows reported they were better prepared to speak with investors about their offerings.

Businesses that participated in the Accelerator’s first year averaged a 62 percent increase in sales, a 107 percent increase in the number of customers and a 68 percent increase in the number of employees within months of their May 2015 graduation.

All of the GFBA Fellows report that exposure to the program’s network of mentors, advisors, educators and investors benefits their businesses significantly. Members of the 180+ network of mentors, advisors and investors report that working with the entrepreneurs in our program provides a front-row seat to young, innovative and fresh perspectives.

GFBA reflects FamilyFarmed’s strong commitment to diversity. Nearly half of all the Fellows participating in the first three cohorts are women-owned and/or minority-owned businesses. Phoenix Bean Tofu, owned by Cohort 1 participant Jenny Yang, has been a standout performer, obtaining a $1.5 million SBA-backed loan in 2016 for a major expansion to meet rising demand for her products.

The Accelerator is based at 1871, Chicago’s engine of business and technology innovation, located in the famous Merchandise Mart.

This program is part of the growing phenomenon of accelerators – reportedly more than 2,000 of them worldwide – that are key to helping businesses launch or scale up.  They play a critical role in identifying the entrepreneurs and ideas most likely to succeed, and provide the resources and connections participants need. FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Accelerator was unveiled at its 2014 Good Food Festival & Conference and was the first accelerator program to focus solely on sustainable, local farm and food businesses.

GFBA-Grad-051215-e-1024x733As in other accelerator programs, Fellows must apply to participate in the Good Food Accelerator and are selected through a competitive process. Those selected undergo an intensive six-month program, which includes a customized curriculum focused on sustainable business development.

All Fellows receive the opportunity to connect with  funders before and during FamilyFarmed’s annual Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference in Chicago. Selected Fellows pitch their business plans at the event.

Dozens of mentors and significant funders are actively involved. They include influential leaders from Whole Foods Market, 2X Consumer Products Growth Partners (a Chicago food and natural products venture capital group), KeHE, Enjoy Life Foods, UNFI, Fortune Fish and more. A funder network has been engaged with a focus on banks, angel investors, venture capitalists, family offices, and other socially minded investors dedicated to support local food businesses.

Fellows, mentors, investors and the Good Food community all gain from involvement with the Good Food Accelerator.

Fellows Gain:

  • Sound business plans and polished investor pitches
  • An understanding of best practices in marketing, operations and product development
  • Financing plans, referrals and introductions to investors, banks and private + public financing sources that facilitate connections
  • Customer development plans and referrals
  • Introductions to a network of wholesale buyers

Mentors Gain:

  • An exceptional experience mentoring businesses that have a positive impact on the way our food is produced +  our society eats
  • Rewarding relationships with a community of national + regional Good Food leaders
  • An early look at companies with investment potential
  • An influential role building a national network of Good Food stakeholders

Investors Gain:

  • An early look at investment-ready companies
  • Relationships with the investor community that may spin off additional deals + attract new participating investors
  • A central role in developing + growing the Good Food business sector
  • Rewarding relationships with national + regional Good Food leaders

The Good Food Community Gains:

  • Increased supply of local food from farmers who practice sustainable, humane and fair farming methods
  • Successful farm + food businesses that sustain livelihoods, re-circulate dollars locally, create jobs + foster new start-up businesses, creating regional Good Food clusters
  • Thriving networks of Good Food entrepreneurs, mentors, investors + other stakeholders

Please click here to learn more about this program.

If you’re interested in becoming a mentor, please contact us.

GFFC 2014 three amigos