FoodBytes! was first staged in San Francisco in 2015 with the aim of providing promising agri-food entrepreneurs with a platform to access mentorship, investment and business connections. Since its launch, the event has attracted over 3,500 attendees and received applications from more than 1,400 start-up companies from 35 countries.
Ecosystems supporting sustainability strategy
The start-up event is part of the global food and agribusiness bank’s Banking for Food strategy. This itself is a plank in Rabobank’s ‘Growing a Better World Together’ mission, which aims to help “feed the world sustainably” by 2050.
Rabobank wants to develop an ecosystem that advances innovation and helps tackle issues ranging from global food waste and loss to sustainable agricultural systems, food security and better nutrition.
The European event will be staged in London this September. Organisers are looking for 20 “game-changing start-ups” to participate and pitch applications will be accepted until 1 July.
“We’re currently on a hunt to find cutting-edge start-ups across Europe to apply to pitch at the event - to an audience of hundreds of investors, industry leading corporates and other start-ups; all pioneering the future of food, food tech and agriculture,” a spokesperson for Rabobank explained.
The two-day event also includes an “intensive mentorship workshop” led by experts on fundraising, PR, branding, consumer trends, legal and go-to-marrket strategy. It is sponsored by ADM and Dairy Crest, while partner organisations include Food + Tech Connect, HAX, The Kitchen, Dishy Media, Shake Up Factory, YFood, Food Evolutions, Future Food Institute, RebelBio and Thought for Food.
Start-ups across Europe that demonstrate “product innovation, commercial viability, traction and a focus on sustainability” are encouraged to apply here.
‘What we got was so much more’
More than 210 companies make up the FoodBytes! alumni community, including Europe-based startups Impact Vision, Koupe, Novolyze and the Real Co.
Going into FoodBytes! Belal ElBanna CEO of The Real Co, which pioneers single origin foods across grocery categories, said that the company's initial objective was “to meet investors”.
“What we got was so much more. We met industry experts [who] hosted mentoring sessions that gave us insights and direct feedback about our business and specific markets. It was also refreshing to meet other companies at similar stages of development, we were able to compare notes and war stories and have forged some long-term relationships.”
Abi Rahman of Impact Vision echoed the importance of developing these relationships and stressed the importance of the post-event support provided by Rabobank.
“Taking part in FoodBytes! and winning the People’s Choice Award gave ImpactVision’s profile a boost at the perfect time…. the visibility during and after the competition as well as at the Rabobank Client Appreciation Summit as part of the prize led to many new connections with food companies and investors,” Rahman said.
“The prize was packed full of really useful services, like free legal and design support, which every early-stage start-up is in need of.”