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

THE NEED: Local and organic food is a fast-growing multi-billion dollar industry, and the market for Good Food is expanding rapidly. To take full advantage, food entrepreneurs need help developing skills and access to resources that foster the success of their enterprises.

Our Response: The Good Food Accelerator, launched by FamilyFarmed in 2014, gets emerging Good Food brands ready for prime time, giving them the skills to scale up. The GFA helps entrepreneurs expand the production, marketing and distribution of locally and responsibly produced food, in order to enhance the social, economic and environmental health of our communities.

Now in its fifth year, this fellowship program for food entrepreneurs is based at 1871, Chicago’s center of innovation. We provide competitively selected fellows with coaching, mentoring, strategic support, and access to resources and capital so they can thrive commercially and have a power ripple effect on the local economy, and beyond.

This is the nation’s first accelerator focused on building supply chains for sustainable local food.

THE IMPACT: Good Food is a good investment! Successful farm and food businesses have the potential to be profitable investment opportunities while sustaining livelihoods, re-circulating dollars locally, creating jobs and fostering new start-up businesses. Regional Good Food clusters can stimulate overall economic growth and revitalization in underserved rural and urban communities.

Fellows receive the opportunity to connect with funders before and during FamilyFarmed’s annual Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference in Chicago. Selected Fellows and extended network businesses pitch their business plans during the event. Businesses that have participated in the conference, including GFA alumni, have raised more than $50 million in capital to-date.

Upon graduation, GFA Alumni from the first three 3 cohorts have seen an average increase of 148% in FTEs (full-time equivalent employees) 176%  in Markets, and  41% in Sales. All of the GFA Fellows report that exposure to the program’s network of mentors, advisors, educators and investors benefits their businesses significantly. 100% of graduates from Cohort 3 said that by participating in GFA, they learned new skills that they can apply directly to their businesses, and that by completing the GFBA program, they feel better prepared to grow their businesses.

Members of the 150+ 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.

GFA also reflects FamilyFarmed’s strong commitment to diversity. Nearly half of all the Fellows participating to date have been women and/or minority-led 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.

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.

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 fill out this brief questionnaire, and contact chelsea@familyfarmed.org.

GFFC 2014 three amigos