The Harvest Blog

10 Lessons Learned from a Life of Building Successful Businesses

Marketing guru, entrepreneur, and investor Stewart Owen has worked with Fortune 100 giants and startups alike. He shared insights from his vast experience working across industries as well as with sustainable, local, and mission-driven food brands with the founders of FoodFutureCo’s cohort companies, and now we want to share his wisdom with you. Here are Stewart’s ten time-tested ways to give your new business the best shot at success: 1. Be Ruthlessly Honest with Yourself Make sure your actions align with what your goals are. People sometimes say they want to change the world but then make decisions solely based on

Tech Founder Series: Artificial Intelligence in Food with Sarah Lynch of Mama Gaia

It is no secret that food tech plays an important role in the future of our food system. From agricultural technology to patents, utilizing advancements in technology can be vital in the continuous evolution of our food system. Among these advancements, the increased use of AI or artificial intelligence in the food system is proving to be a powerful and useful tool. Sarah Lynch is the founder and CEO of Mama Gaia, a company building AI-powered, self-service Smart Fridges that are stocked daily with the freshest locally sourced grab-and-go food. Sarah and Mama Gaia were part of Cohort 6 of our accelerator, where Sarah

This is what never gets mentioned about bees

Nobody panic, but honey bees are lousy pollinators. They get a lot of credit for keeping our crops afloat, and an entire industry has evolved around trucking hives across the country to pollinate plums and almonds in California and tangerines in Florida, but it’s the 4,000 species of native bees who are the heroes of our produce aisles. From teddy bear bees and tickle bees to mud bees and squash bees, the diverse world of wild pollinators is critically important to our farms. In many cases, native pollinators do the heavy lifting while the honey bees get the glory. A 2014 study that evaluated 41 crop systems around

Sustainable Ideas: Can We Have Our Fish and Eat It Too?

$636,000. This was the winning bid for a 467-pound bluefin tuna sold at auction this past January. In 2013, Kiyoshi Kimura—the victorious bidder and owner of the Sushizanmai chain—paid a landmark $1.76 million for a bluefin tuna. The output from the world’s fisheries seafood was valued at $246 billion worldwide in 2010. Needless to say, there is money in fish meat. But the profit comes at a cost. Bluefin tuna stocks are calculated to have fallen below three percent of their historic levels, and this story of depletion is echoed throughout the ocean. Overfishing and global warming have thrown fish stocks into

The Important Role that Food Will Be in the Coming Water Crisis

By now, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the world is facing a global water crisis. What is less apparent is how this crisis is intimately tied food—how we source, produce, and consume what we eat. In the face of drastic warnings of reduced freshwater around the world in coming decades (UNESCO has explicitly warned that climate change will alter the availability of water and threaten water security), it is important to identify what, exactly, a lack of freshwater means. What are the most urgent risks, and where will it take its highest toll? What are our best areas for innovation? Freshwater

Best Marketing Strategies for Food Businesses

Marketing is crucial for anyone looking to attract new customers and fend off competition in the highly competitive, multi-billion industry of food production and services. With countless food businesses out there, how can you create the best food business marketing plan? As with most industries, marketing campaigns for food businesses are not a simple or one step process. The key marketing strategy for food businesses is to first identify a target niche or customer segment. Based upon that target audience, the business must determine what message or unique selling proposition they are trying to communicate. Finally,

How Private-Public Connections Can Play a Role in Food Access

America’s farm-to-table food movement and the ever-growing emphasis on local food are good news for both the environment and our economy. From haute cuisine to small food businesses, owners are increasingly sourcing local, seasonal, and sustainable products. These ingredients, which make for fresher and tastier dishes, not only support the local economy and promote sustainability, but they cater to a growing audience of conscientious consumers and offer array of marketing opportunities. However, this movement towards fresh and local produce lacks focus in one very important area—one that will determine the future of

What are the First-Year Challenges of a Food Business?

Starting a food business is an exciting and lucrative endeavor, but it is widely acknowledged that the first year presents its own challenges. According to statistical evidence from industry insiders, up to 60% of new food businesses fail within the first year. Still, these problems can be solved with smart strategies and a reliable support system, allowing entrepreneurs to start businesses that do well. Finding Your Niche Finding a niche in a competitive market may be one of the first challenges for new food businesses. To differentiate yourself from the competition, you must identify a unique selling point that

The Future of Sustainable Businesses with Carlos Posada of Quo Agro Justo

We are so excited to highlight Carlos Posada of Quo Agro Justo! “Right now, the intermediaries make most of the profit, so being against the traditional food chain and showing that there is a better and more fair way to deliver sustainable products, requires a strong working capital.” Carlos Posada is the founding director of Quo Agro Justo, a Colombia-based social enterprise using technology to bridge the gap between producers and consumers. They seek to create a social impact on small and medium farmers by working to distribute their products to restaurants and institutions through fair

Socially Responsible Investments with Margaret Gifford

Company founders and impact advisors, Margaret Gifford, Principal at Watervine Impact, and our own Shen Tong, Partner of FoodFutureCo, give advice on how to find patient capital from foundations, focusing on program related investment for mission driven companies and nonprofit organizations. Watervine Impact is a consulting firm for mission-driven companies and investors. Both Watervine Impact and FoodFutureCo function as investors and mentors, supporting social entrepreneurs as they seek capital or capacity during the growth phase of their companies. Over the last few years, we have seen the rise of program related