If you enjoy this website, I would appreciate if you could take a moment to register and vote for Food+Tech Connect in the WE Media 2011 Pitch It! Challenge. Your vote could help me win $25,000 to build Food+Tech Connect into a media company that connects innovators using information technology to empower better decision making across the food system.
What’s in it for you? Your vote will ensure you access to more interviews, news, events, and reports.
It only takes a few minutes to register (top right corner) and vote! The contest ends February 4th.
Thank you in advance for taking the time to help me realize my vision and support the food and information technology movement.
I’ve included my proposal below to give you a better sense of where Food+Tech is going.
Food+Tech Connect informs, analyzes, engages, and connects innovators using information technology to empower better decision making across the food system. We leverage media, events, and research to promote collaboration and engage entrepreneurs, farmers, citizens, technologists, policy makers, and researchers. We report on the latest ventures, innovations, and applications that are changing how we produce, sell, consume, and interact with food. Through hackathons, networking events, and ideation dinners, we create unique opportunities for multidisciplinary dialogue to help stakeholders develop the best possible tools and solutions.
What else is out there doing something similar, and why is this better?
Businesses are increasingly understanding that consumers are demanding more nutritious, fresh, and transparent food. A fast growing entrepreneurial sector is emerging that uses information technology and the web to address these interests. For example, grocery advisor mobile applications such as Fooducate and Shopwell help make it easier to navigate food labels by providing easy-to-understand nutrition analysis for common grocery items and providing recommendations for healthier alternatives. Sites such as Real Time Farms use crowdsourcing to help consumers understand where their food comes from and provide them with real-time information about what’s available at local farmers markets. Researchers like Mari Gallagher use mobile technology to combat food deserts by using an app to track the locations of supermarkets. The government’s mandate to make important data available online has already encouraged the release high-value data sets such as food recalls, national farmers markets, and nutrition profiles. Despite all of this activity, there has been no easy way or central place for people to learn about what is going on in this space. Publications such as ReadWriteWeb, Mashable, and Food Safety News do cover individual technologies and startups, but do not provide the regular coverage necessary to address the sector’s needs. Food+Tech Connect was therefore created to fill the demand for news, information, and insights about food+tech startups, business models, tools, and best practices. It was also started in response to a growing interest in how semantic web technologies, open government, and open research could be leveraged to improve access to information, foster transparency, collaboratively address challenges, and improve our food system.
How will it earn money?
Food+tech Connect will generate revenue through a combination of events, research/consulting, and sponsorship. We will produce integrated events & ideation dinners that will use the table as a humanizing medium for engaging policy makers, entrepreneurs, technologists, researchers, and citizens in creative interaction and dialogue about our food system. These dinners will also further increase the reach of the site’s content as well as create opportunities for research and analysis. Food+Tech Connect will also host events such as hackathons, meetup groups, and training sessions to build community, foster digital literacy education, and to develop projects, applications, and tools.
Food+Tech Connect will provide research and market analysis about the growing food and information technology movement. We will publish reports to deliver insights on the scale of the industry, semantic web technologies, open research, incentivizing the sharing of data, engaging community, and information management. We have already developed a strategic partnership with researchers from the Tetherless World Constelation group at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Our organizations will work together to produce research and analysis about food ontology and the use of semantic web technologies throughout the food system. The company will also provide a subscription based database, as well as premium products such as an infographic generator.
Finally, Food+Tech Connect will act as an aggregator for food and information technology related blogs, video content producers, and infographic designers to achieve greater market value for publishers and our sponsors. Sponsors will benefit from economies of scale and the wider network that will be achieved by bringing together these niche publishers. They will also benefit from the rich database of entrepreneurs, researchers, farmers, public policy-makers, resources, and trends being aggregated by Food+Tech Connect.
What’s new and innovative about this idea?
Food+Tech connect is building community for the growing food and information technology movement. I am using media, events, and research as a means for connecting, informing, and engaging technologists, entrepreneurs, food advocates, farmers, public officials, and open government and data advocates, in a new conversation about how to address challenges throughout our food system. Another innovative aspect of food+tech connect is that I work with business consultant Christine Rico to open source the business plan (http://www.foodtechconnect.com/category/open-source-business-plan/). Every week, Christine blogs about a different stage in the business plan process. She shares insights and tools to engage the community and help them strengthen their own business plans. We are exploring innovative ways to operate a sustainable media company. Our goal is to engage thought-leaders in the process and develop a replicable model for other media entities.
Who are the founders and what experience and skills do they bring to this project?
My background is in urban agriculture, restaurants, and social entrepreneurship, most recently at BrightFarm Systems, where I managed the company’s PR and social media strategy, cultivated new business opportunities, and oversaw finances. Through events like the Food+Tech Hackathon and the Feast Conference Dinner, I have used food and technology as mediums for cross-disciplinary collaboration.
How far along are you with the idea? Have you designed or built anything? Is it live, is there a prototype?
I began www.foodtechconnect.com last June. Over the past 8 months the blog has expanded exponentially at an average rate of 40% each month through December. So far, January has seen a 321% increase in readership. The blog has also afforded me opportunities to contribute to major online publications such as GOOD and Grist. I have also co-curated successful events such as the Feast Conference Dinner (http://bit.ly/emJc38) and the first-ever Food+Tech Hackathon (http://bit.ly/fiRlkL).
Have you raised or has anyone invested any money in it?: Does 8 months of my time count?
I left my job at BrightFarm Systems in August to pursue Food+Tech Connect full time. To date I have invested my time and savings in building the organization. Christine Rico and Holley Atkinson have also invested a significant amount of time in working with me to develop the business plan.