Food and beverage startups to benefit from new accelerator

veggies_unsplashFaB (Food and Beverage) Wisconsin has worked in collaboration with the Food Finance Institute at the University of Wisconsin Extension, and now Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), to bring Wisconsin’s food and beverage industry a much needed food finance accelerator: FaBcap.

FaB, working with its 135 member companies in collaboration with the Institute, had identified a need in the burgeoning food and beverage manufacturing space for those companies ready to scale-up and increase production to expand their market reach and potential.

There are growing demands on the food and beverage industry to innovate and meet evolving consumer interests, from specialty food and beverage products to those considered cleaner or fresher (fewer ingredients, organic, gluten or GMO free, etc.). There is also demand for alternative food sources, sustainable production and the need to feed a growing world population. Additionally, smaller scale niche consumer markets and regulatory requirements are creating opportunities for new food manufacturing technologies that allow for efficient smaller scale and safer production, and to increase productivity and reduce waste.

“FaBcap is designed to build the capacity and capitalization of 10 pre-screened and scaling food or beverage business through a one-year program on how to grow and fund a sustainable food or beverage enterprise,” said Shelley Jurewicz, Executive Director of FaB Wisconsin.

The selected businesses must be Wisconsin-based and generating revenue in food, beverage, ingredients, equipment manufacturing or technologies to participate in the one-year program which provides: a Certified Financial Coach, access to FaB Member Mentors; monthly cohort meetings at area food companies—all culminating in a $10,000 FaBcap Cash Award; and a pitch to investors/funders in the program’s closing ceremony.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is supporting the program with a $115,000 grant through its Seed Accelerator Program, with additional support coming from Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, Milwaukee 7 and corporate sponsors including Chortek LLP and Reinhardt Boerner Van Deuren s.c.

“Wisconsin is home to more than 1,000 food, beverage and ingredient manufacturers. Nearly two-thirds have fewer than 10 employees. We have a great opportunity to grow these companies and innovate the industry with the support being offered through FaBcap,” said Reed Hall, secretary and CEO of WEDC. “Supporting those with ambitions to grow and helping them succeed will strengthen our industry’s innovative core.”

“We’ve learned that food businesses make money, and don’t, in predictable ways. Those that succeed use the right kind of financing at the right time as their business evolves,” said Tera Johnson, Founding Director of the UW Extension Food Finance Institute.

A unique thread throughout the accelerator is its certified Financial Coach and ongoing interaction with the financial and funding community beginning with the program’s two-day kick-off. It is designed to inform entrepreneurs and business owners, and the financial community, about the food business models that work and to position a company for its next level of growth and funding.

The program offers direct, year-long access and interaction with FaB’s new Director of Innovation & Finance who will lead and facilitate the program and serve as the Certified Financial Coach. FaB will begin the search to fill the new position immediately.

FaB plans to announce the call for accelerator program applicants in late June, and will select the final 10 in July, with the program slated to kick off in late August. Interested applicants should visit: www.fabwisconsin.com.

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