10 Suggestions for Food Startups to Raise VC Funding

July 3, 2018

While the biotechnology boom seems to be eating up all the attention around innovation in Boston these days, there’s another story simmering in the city: startups catering to our hunger for good food and drink, restaurants and bars.

A recent player helping nourish this startup scene is Branch Venture Group. The group has a big menu of interests: food, agriculture and restaurant technology; digital tools and e-commerce; robotics; and life sciences. And its mission is a tall order: To help make the Hub a national center for food innovation.

Billing itself as an “investment network,” Branch Venture feeds new food and beverage companies with guidance, networking and seed funds of under a million dollars.

Founded last year by Lauren Abda (who earlier cooked up Branchfood), Marcia Hooper (a senior adviser at Bowside Capital) and Julia Paino (who founded food company Swoffle and is a founding partner of NextGen Ventures), Branch Venture has a portfolio that includes OpenCityand Willie’s Superbrew.

BostInno spoke with the three co-founders to find out their perspective on the food and drink startup scene. Here are their top 10 thoughts:

Traditional investors have little appetite for food startups, says Hooper. That’s why Branch Venture formed: “The institutional investors and traditional venture capitalists don’t really know where to put food. It usually has very low intellectual property and the consumers can be fickle…. Institutional investors have tended to shy away from consumer companies, until they are cash-flow positive, and then there is a lot of private equity that likes consumer products and their firms. But there’s this void for entrepreneurs.”

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