churron-obsessed masses?So you’ve created a food app that you’re convinced is the next Maple. But where are you going to find the million bucks that gets it into the sticky, sugar-powdered hands of the
Today in Williamsburg, a crowd of about 150 startup hopefuls, investors, and professional foodies gathered at MP Taverna to try to make the dream a reality. They mingled among tea sandwiches, sliders, couscous salad, and slices of artisanal salami in anticipation of FoodBytes! Brooklyn, the first event of its kind to be held in Brooklyn.
Manuel Gonzalez, the managing director of Rabobank, which organized today’s event, described it as a networking opportunity for “food and agricultural entrepreneurs” interested in “taking risks to put everything on the line.”
Although FoodBytes started last year with two events in San Francisco, Gonzalez said the organizers had initially hoped to launch it in Brooklyn. Which should come as no surprise. The borough “already has a very thriving food community, and there is a lot of innovation coming out of there,” Gonzalez said. “In addition, New York is of course a great financial center.”
So could FoodBytes! Brooklyn be responsible for the next Opentable?
The food-based startups (10 in total) had 10 minutes each to pitch their ideas and companies to a group of bankers and investors. They were then grilled for five minutes in a rather tame Q&A session. Although the startups present were from places as far away as Israel and Sweden, New York was properly represented, with two companies in particular catching Bedford + Bowery’s eye.
True Made Foods, a SoHo/Lower East Side-based startup, is trying to make healthy versions of ubiquitous American condiments such as ketchup, BBQ sauce, and hot sauce. Abraham Kamarck, one of the company’s founders, explained: “We’re making ketchup a vegetable again.” The brand’s logo is a curled-up fox and its font looks like it was used by a vegan farm-to-table restaurant off the Graham L stop. The vegan, gluten-free, veggie-based (and, admittedly, yummy) sauces are sure to please the nutritionally conscious (yet sweet-potato-fry-obsessed) Brooklyn hipster in your life.
Another startup that seems to have a keen understanding of New York’s foodie scene is The Chaat Co, a purveyor of savory yoghurt snacks, or chaat, as they’re known in India. Inspired by that country’s culinary scene, The Chaat Co is nonetheless a tried-and-true New York company based in Chelsea. With flavors such as mango chili, cucumber mint, and tamarind date, all topped with crunchy lentil puffs, these cute and colorful tubs are like the foodie equivalent of your 4pm strawberry-flavored Activia pick-me-up.
Gonzalez hopes that FoodBytes will become an annual fixture on the New York food scene, and anticipates a whole crop of innovative food startups growing out of the concrete jungle. Hopefully one of them will allow us to finally score a hassle-free reservation at Momofuku Ko…