Invest NY: Future of Food Event Recap

Invest NY: Future of Food - June 2021

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On June 10, 2021, Upstate Capital and NYSTAR presented Invest NY: Future of Food  to highlight the food and agtech industry and innovation in Upstate New York. Over 200 members from established food and beverage companies, suppliers, investors, and dealmakers came together with entrepreneurs and startups to participate in the online event. 

The event was sponsored by NYSTAR29 Design StudioWorximityFreed Maxick and Farm Credit East

To kick it off, 18 startups that are innovating in the food and agtech industries and other related sectors gave 3-minute pitches to investors around and outside New York. Check out the pitch sessions in full below, and find out more about the companies here

After the pitches, the startups had the opportunity to network with investors, including representatives from Louis Dreyfus Company, Rich Products Ventures, NewlinVC, Sente Foundry and Capital Innovators, among others. 

Next, Upstate Capital’s President and CEO, Noa Simons, had a conversation with Max Clegg. Max is a corporate development professional with extensive transaction experience and domain expertise in the agriculture, food, and energy industries. Max is currently leading Louis Dreyfus Company’s Corporate Venture Capital and Innovations Program.

Next, Tim Raven and Jim Ilaria discussed leveraging technology to drive manufacturing process improvement and EBITDA gains. Tim is the Managing Director and leads Worximity’s US practice. Worximity offers smart factory solutions for mid-market manufacturers. Jim is a growth and operations focused CEO and Private Equity Operating Partner.  He has been involved with private equity since 2006 and has extensive experience in food manufacturing.  During his career, he has had three USDA and three FDA food manufacturing plants report up through him and also worked as the interim-COO of Border Foods, the largest green chili processor in the United States. 

We talked about finding the right incubator for your startup to help entrepreneurs navigate decisions related to building their networks and accessing resources as they launch their businesses. Colby Creedon of NYSTAR, Andrea Ippolito of SimpliFed and Dr. Linda Alvarez of Levelle discussed the topic in Hatch Here: Finding the Right Incubator for Your Startup. 

Next, we had several knowledgeable people who deliver valuable services to the food and agtech industries, as well as one of our local entrepreneurs who is building his business here leveraging these resources. We welcomed Cathy Young, John Ng, and Jenn Smith in a panel discussion moderated by Tim Moag to talk about leveraging New York resources. 

Maureen and Todd joined us to talk about how to scale your business, possibly making it attractive for acquisition. Maureen Ballatori is the Founder and CEO of 29 Design Studio. She works with food, beverage, and agriculture brands around the country. She is joined by Todd Kletter. Todd was CEO of Tierra Farm, a manufacturer and distributor of certified organic nuts and seeds, dried fruits, whole and ground spices, coffee and chocolate products. Under Todd’s leadership, Tierra Farm saw a fivefold increase in profits. Todd has joined Wealthpoint Advisory to launch the Business Services Group, to share his insights and help business owners, CEOs and senior executives solve challenges and mitigate risks.

To end the event, we had a group of active investors share their perspectives on the food and agtech industry in the state; Karin Gregory (Blue Highway Capital), Chris Laughton (Farm Credit East), Jonathan Greene (NY Ventures), and Randy Bianchi (Lakelet Capital) joined in a conversation moderated by David Spungen, a Partner and Wealth Advisor at RegentAtlantic. 

We are pleased to announce the winner of the event game: London Judge, Program Assistant for Entrepreneurship Programs at The Center for Regional Economic Advancement at Cornell University. London wins a VIP event box filled with products from the startups! 

The event was part of the Invest NY Series: to highlight investment opportunities in innovation in a number of sectors across New York.  Upstate Capital has partnered with NYSTAR to produce these events in a number of key industries including health and well-being, industry 4.0, climate tech and coming up on July 8, Aerospace and Defense.

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