A new sustainable food business accelerator is taking root in Chicago and applications are open for its first class.
The Good Food Business Accelerator (GFBA) is run by FamilyFarmed.org, a non-profit dedicated to building local food systems. The GFBA’s goal is to “get farm and food businesses ready for prime time, giving them the skills to launch or scale up,” according to its website.
Housed in tech incubator 1871, the intensive six month program is open to regional food and farm entrepreneurs, including food makers, processors and retailers, restaurants, farmers and food tech companies. Businesses must be located in and serve the Chicago foodshed to apply. The GFBA features core and customized curriculums focused on sustainable business development, mentoring, strategic support and access to capital.
Up to eight companies will be selected to participate as fellows in the pilot program. They will be paired up with expert mentors – including 100 leaders from companies like Whole Foods, Organic valley and 2X Consumer Products Growth Partners – who will help them create and expand their business plans, grow sales and customer strategies and become investment-ready.
Unlike a lot of other business accelerators, the GFBA will not take equity in the business it incubates. Instead, fellows will pay an annual fee to FamilyFarmed based on the increase in revenue their businesses experience. However, if they do not see increased revenue, they will not have to pay a fee.
The GFBA also has some pretty hard-hitting supporters. Strategic partners include Whole Foods and United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI). Its lead funding came from Food:Land:Opportunity – Localizing the Chicago Foodshed, an initiative of the Searle Funds at the Chicago Community Trust. And it also earned a $50,000 grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Applications are now open, and the first class of up to 8 fellows will begin the six month program in November. Fellows will have the chance to pitch their businesses to potential investors at the Good Food Financing and Innovation Conference in March. Learn more and apply here.
For all you interested Chicago-based entrepreneurs, check out the GFBA’s debut event tonight at 1871. The evening will include a discussion on how the accelerator aims to bolster and grow the region’s local food systems, a panel on food entrepreneur success stories, and of course, networking, drinks and snacks. Check it out here.