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Accelerator Grads Explain Why Food Businesses Should Apply

Check out all the great press the Good Food Business Accelerator has received:

2016 Chicago Tribune, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Inno, Good Food on Every Table

2015 Chicago Tribune, Chicago Inno, tech.co, Chicago Tribune

2014 Chicago Tribune, Crain’s Chicago Business, Fast Company, Streetwise, Food + Tech Connect.

 

FAQs

Q: IS THIS A TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE, INCUBATOR, OR ACCELERATOR PROGRAM?

A: The Good Food Business Accelerator (GFBA) is an intensive accelerator program providing core and custom curriculums to Fellows to help them develop their business plan, build their business sales, and become investment-ready and poised for growth.

Q: WHO CAN APPLY AND WHEN?

A: The application process opens on August 15, 2016 and closes September 19, 2016 at midnight. Food businesses that can leverage technology in the food sector are eligible to compete for the fellowships. This definition may include food artisans, consumer packaged goods companies, farmers, technology firms, food hubs, food processors, food distributors, restaurants, retailers, craft beverage makers, and foodservice providers whose core business values are focused on local, sustainable, humane and fair practices. Businesses must be located in and serve the Chicago foodshed.

Q: HOW FAR ALONG DOES MY COMPANY HAVE TO BE TO APPLY?

A: We consider applications from pre-revenue and post-revenue companies for our program. Pre-revenue companies must have a team in place that has previously launched, scaled, and exited a food business. Revenue-generating companies must demonstrate through their application that they are ready to and intend to scale up.

Q: WILL I RECEIVE AN INVESTMENT FROM FAMILYFARMED?  DO I HAVE TO GIVE UP EQUITY?

A: This Accelerator is operated by FamilyFarmed, a non-profit organization, so it is different from other accelerators. Fellows do not receive an investment from the Accelerator itself, nor do they give the Accelerator equity. Instead, Fellows will be required to pay an annual fee to FamilyFarmed based on the increase in revenue of their businesses. Without sales growth, Fellows will not pay any fee. Click here for the details.

Q: HOW WILL THE ACCELERATOR HELP MY BUSINESS INCREASE SALES?

A: We will work with Accelerator Fellows to develop and implement customer development plans to increase their sales. FamilyFarmed has a 10-year track record connecting regional food businesses with trade buyers and other customers. We operate the Good Food Trade Show, the oldest sustainable local food trade show in the region. We also will facilitate introductions to trade buyers who are a good fit. Whole Foods Market and UNFI, two of the largest natural/organic food buyers, are partners in the Accelerator. We also have strong relationships with Chipotle Mexican Grill, KaHE, Fortune Fish & Gourmet, Aramark, SYSCO, Lettuce Entertain You, Compass Group, and many restaurants, supermarkets, producers, and foodservice companies.

Q: DO I HAVE TO RAISE CAPITAL AT THE END OF THE PROGRAM?

A:  This program is designed to help companies scale their businesses, which is almost always achieved by gaining access to outside capital. There are many ways to raise capital – from crowd funding to government grants to debt financing to equity investment – and learning how to raise money to finance company growth is a focal point of the program. Accepting equity investment is not required. Fellows will be given the opportunity to pitch to funders, lenders, and investors at the Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference and at a public Demo Day at 1871.

Q: HOW LIKELY IS IT THAT I WILL RAISE CAPITAL FROM OUTSIDE SOURCES WITH THE HELP OF THE ACCELERATOR?

A: This program may increase the likelihood that Fellows will raise money. Fellows in similar accelerators have achieved 50 percent or more success rates in fundraising. There is no guarantee, however, that Fellows will raise funds. The GFBA has strong relationships with two Chicago-area angel investment groups with more than 100 investors who are looking for solid deals in food business. We also have relationships with Farm Credit, the USDA, and the Small Business Administration, who have programs to fund food and farm businesses.

Q: HOW WILL APPLICATIONS BE EVALUATED?

A: Our Fellows Selection Committee will review each application based on the overall business concept, company values, team, business model, value proposition, and potential for increasing the supply of Good Food.

Q: DO I HAVE TO WORK FROM 1871 FOR THE DURATION OF THE PROGRAM?

A: There are onsite requirements that require participation in one day a week of programming at 1871, plus possible additional events during the course of the six-month GFBA program. Our program is not for everyone as it is intensive and requires face-to-face mentorship and business training. You will get the most out of the experience by immersing yourself with the other Good Food Business Accelerator entrepreneurs and the 1871 community. We will work with your business to develop on-site and off-site curriculum plans tailored to your business.

Q: WHAT CAN I EXPECT IN AN AVERAGE WEEK AT THE GOOD FOOD BUSINESS ACCELERATOR?

The program includes:

Curriculum – Approximately six hours of business training through hands-on workshops, seminars, and guest speakers, in addition to a minimum 1 hour of pre-curriculum preparation.

Mentorship – Two to three hours each week of one-on-one mentoring with your Super Mentor and the GFBA team plus an additional 2–4 hours engaging with the greater network of experienced GFBA and 1871 business professionals.

Work on Your Business – When you are not in class or meeting with mentors, you should be out in the field refining your product, gaining customers, and applying your customized GFBA goal plan to business operations.

Community – Peer-to-peer learning and collaboration with GFBA Fellows and the 1871 community.

Q: WHAT IF I’M NOT SURE ABOUT APPLYING?

FamilyFarmed offers programming and services to further our mission of 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. Sign up for our newsletter on our our website, and join us at our March 2017 Good Food Festival & Conference.