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.
Nine businesses participated in each of the Accelerator’s first two cohorts — 2014-15 and 2015-16 — and nine more are currently enrolled in our 2016-17 cohort. The results are promising.
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 Business 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.
As in other accelerator programs, Fellows must apply to participate in the Good Food Business 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 the Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference in Chicago (next scheduled for March 16, 2017), held on the opening day of FamilyFarmed’s annual three-day Good Food Festival & Conference. 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 Business Accelerator.
Please click here to learn more about this program.
If you’re interested in becoming a mentor, please contact us.