Gotham Greens is hard to miss, given that it’s in a large, glowing greenhouse on top of a Whole Foods store in Brooklyn. The agriculture-tech startup produces climate-controlled produce for nearby restaurants and stores in New York and now Chicago.
Americans want to know more about what they're eating: Where does this food come from? Was it grown in an organic, sustainable way that I can feel good about? And was it handled safely before it reached my plate.
When it comes to funding those that are “doing good” in the world, philanthropy isn't the only answer. Increasingly, investors are looking to for-profit, socially minded entrepreneurial ventures (including several in Chicago) that have the potential to benefit both sides of the equation: These enterprises create products and services for the good of society, and they can realize a return for investors.
I am new to the 'food space,' but have been around startups for 20+ years now. While I certainly have a lot to learn still about building a business from scratch, one thing that I have seen to be true and it continues to be true for aspiring food companies is that your customers have to LOVE what you are making.
There are plenty of places outside of the Valley with access to funding, incubators, and expertise—Chicago, Boston, New York, and Austin, among others. But before opting for any of these locales, entrepreneurs should start with a far more relevant and fundamental question: Where’s my customer?
Seed 2 Growth Ventures, the fund backing companies including Beyond Meat and Shenandoah Growers, is looking for more investments in food and agriculture businesses focusing on health and sustainability.