The Food Finance Institute (FFI) will showcase a dozen innovative food and farm businesses at different points in their growth journey Sept. 21 at “Investing in the Future of Food.”
The goal of the event, which will be presented both in person and online, is to help entrepreneurs scale up and to spur conversation among investors and supporters. Presentations, panel discussions and networking will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Businesses and their products include:
- MobCraft Beer, Milwaukee: crowdsourced, creative beers, with one taphouse in Wisconsin and three more to come.
- Funky Fresh Spring Rolls, Milwaukee: healthful, handcrafted spring rolls first sold at the farmers market and now available at their own storefront location plus frozen grocery aisles.
- Clean Beam, Necedah: dry, chemical-free footwear sanitizer powered by pulsing UV light, for improved environmental controls, food safety and employee health.
- Keene Garlic, Madison: Wisconsin-grown garlic bulbs sold via national e-commerce platform.
- Potter’s Crackers, Madison: hand-rolled crackers made with organic Wisconsin grains and dairy products; started as a bakery and is now a national specialty cracker brand.
- Milwaukee Pretzel Company, Milwaukee: Bavarian-style soft pretzels that have elevated the company into a national food service and grocery brand.
- KUL MOCKS, River Falls: non-alcoholic cocktails testing in key retailers in late 2022 and preparing for a national launch in 2023.
- Rebel Green, Mequon: full line of organic household cleaning products sold at national retailers; started with one product — produce cleaner.
- Field to Freezer, Hartland: technology platform connecting hunters/farm producers to processors and ultimately to consumers.
- Wilcraft Can, Oak Creek: mobile canning operation that is expanding and launching new proprietary technology.
- Embark Maple, Viroqua: pouched maple syrup, tapped from the farm and targeting retail channels.
- Sow Good Farms, Ann Arbor, Mich.: organic, regenerative farm growing, processing and sourcing integrated value-added ag products across categories (purees, jams, soups, breads and more).
“Small businesses fail without investment from traditional lenders, equity sources, state/local/federal government and the community,” Acting FFI Director Sarah Larson said. “FFI strives to choregraph success by putting the right pieces and partners together to support food-focused businesses and food and ag economic development.”
A primary example of how FFI does that is the Fellows Program. The event’s 12 businesses are either current or past participants of the year-long specialized training, formerly known as the FaBcap Accelerator.
Brad Rostowfske, FFI Fellows Program Manager, said: “We started this program six years ago, and now we are 103 strong and growing. On average, 70 percent of startups fail in the first three years; 90 percent of our clients remain in business after three years. This event puts a showcase on what they have done and how they are growing with investment from Wisconsin and beyond.”
The Fellows Program, funded by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), combines a modified version of FFI’s foundational financial management boot camp with one-on-one coaching calls and peer group meetings. The program is supported by FFI industry experts like SupplyOne (Packaging), TAG Finance and Accounting (Outsourcing), Consolidated Construction Company (Building Projects), Eurofins (Food Safety), and Reinhart Law and Ogden Glazer + Schaefer (Law).
As of June 2021, the program has graduated five classes with 10 businesses annually. These 50 Wisconsin-based food and beverage product, ingredient and technology companies have attracted $864,250 in grant funding, $7.5 million in debt funding and $9.9 million in equity funding, with annual sales totaling over $36 million.
Applications for the 2022-23 year will launch in late fall; learn more at https://foodfinanceinstitute.org/grow-your-food-business/ffi-fellows-program/
Cost for the Sept. 21 event is $10 online and $25 in person at the Pyle Center, 702 Langdon St., Madison. Product samples and refreshments will be available. Lunch is not included, but food cart and other options are available within walking distance.
About Food Finance Institute
The Food Finance Institute (FFI) leverages and supports a collaborative network of professionals focused on building and funding profitable businesses in the food, beverage and value-added agriculture sector. Through training, coaching, resources, tools and mentorship, FFI fulfills its mission of making sophisticated financial technical assistance available to growing enterprises. In addition, FFI is the home of the Edible-Alpha® brand. Edible-Alpha® is a digital resource hub that includes the Edible-Alpha® podcast and our insights newsletter. FFI is part of the University of Wisconsin System’s Institute for Business & Entrepreneurship. www.foodfinanceinstitute.org