RECAP: 1ST ANNUAL FUTURE OF FOOD CONFERENCE
Last week, people from across Upstate New York and beyond gathered at Hourigan’s Dairy Farm to talk about the future of food and agricultural technology. The crowd ranged from investment bankers in suits to farmers in rubber boots.
The event started with a showcase of 14 startups spanning food/agritech businesses from drones to food preservation. Tables lined the barn walls and displayed a wide range of products from high-tech honeycomb to garbanzo-bean-based snack food. Upstate Capital member MicroEra Power bridged the gap between agtech and renewable energy by presenting their microCHP heat/energy generation technology.
Cornell AgriTech talked to guests about their newly-named center for food and agriculture research and education. Lightning pitches from startups to the audience that included investors from New York City to Buffalo started off the program.
AJ Wormuth, the manager of Hourigan’s Dairy Farm, spoke about the technology the farm utilizes to efficiently run the 1400-head farm. Three CEOs then shared their own stories, designed to convey their lessons learned to other entrepreneurs. Bethany Deshpande is the CEO of SomaDetect, a technology company focused on collecting and measuring data on milk quality. The company is a recent 43North $1M grand prize winner. Warren Zeiser, now CEO of DreamBuilder Consulting, spoke about his experience rehabilitating companies through the power of marketing and brand development. Finally, Todd Kletter spoke about Tierra Farm, his award winning company that was named one of America’s fastest growing companies. He discussed the fundamentals of scaling a business to $100M in revenue.
The final panel delivered the investor’s perspective on the state of food and agriculture technology. Charlie Sullivan of Bond, Schoeneck & King, moderated the discussion with Michael Waterman of Canopy Holdings and Somak Chattopadhyay of Armory Square Ventures, both experienced in investing in agtech.
As attendee Maureen Ballatori of 29 Design Studio said, “What’s not to love about the intersection of food, entrepreneurship and innovation?”