Look for a disruption in the daily diet of entrepreneurs at the 1871 tech incubator (Leftover bagels? Cold pizza?) with the announcement Monday that the newly formed Good Food Business Accelerator would join the Merchandise Mart-based co-working space.
The accelerator, run by Oak Park-based nonprofit FamilyFarmed.org, aims to promote “local, sustainable, humane and fair food,” said FamilyFarmed president Jim Slama.“We are thrilled to be part of 1871,” Slama said. “It’s such a vibrant, exciting space, and we’re excited to be part of that.”
He said the accelerator is accepting applications, including from for-profit companies, with details available at goodfoodaccelerator.org.
“We just want to increase the supply of good food,” Slama said.
The food accelerator will be in 1871’s expanded space, set to open next month, and 1871 CEO Howard Tullman said it fits right in with his growth plans.
“The Good Food Business Accelerator aligns perfectly with 1871’s mission to foster economic and job growth by facilitating the efforts of creative entrepreneurs across every important market sector,” Tullman said in a statement announcing the program.
Slama said the accelerator will be home to as many as eight startups, which will participate in a six-month program, including the chance to pitch their companies to potential investors in March at the Good Food Financing and Innovation Conference in Chicago.
He said about 100 mentors have signed on. Among them are Big Bowl partner and executive chef Marc Bernard; Whole Foods Midwest region president Michael Bashaw; Linda Darragh, executive director of the Kellogg Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative at Northwestern University; and Impact Engine chairman Chuck Templeton, who founded OpenTable.
Whole Foods Market and United Natural Foods Inc., a distributor of natural and organic foods, will be “strategic partners” in the accelerator, Slama said.
Lead funding for the accelerator came from “Food:Land:Opportunity — Localizing the Chicago Foodshed,” an initiative of the Searle Funds at the Chicago Community Trust, according to a statement announcing the accelerator. Slama said the accelerator also received a $50,000 grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Slama said the Good Food Business Accelerator won’t take an equity position in participating companies. He directed questions about fees to the program’s website, which said participants “will be required to pay an annual fee to FamilyFarmed based on the increase in revenue of their businesses. Without sales growth, (participants) will not pay any fee.”
Slama said the three main goals of the program will be to help participating companies fine-tune their business plan, to improve their market development and customer development strategies and to build a financing plan.