FundingPost held a Food Investing Conference on Thursday at The International Culinary Center at Union Square where entrepreneurs and investors learned about the early stage food and foodtech investing environment. There was a copious of innovative foods to eat and drink, exciting foodtech ideas, and many foodie angels. But why a whole conference on food investing and why now? Because the food industry has become a hot topic, propelled by cool innovations, inspired founders and gourmand VCs.
“But you don’t necessarily have to love food,” explained Joe Rubin, founder of Arc Angel and FundingPost. “When you invest in any industry you have to know and have an appreciation of the industry. Unless you’re just one of those people that does the ‘spray and play model’. Some people have very large portfolios of companies that they don’t really know about. But in general, investors invest in companies that they know and appreciate.
“However, you do have to know the industry and the market. So if you don’t love food, you don’t care, you’re eating junk food every day, and you’re like, ‘I’m going to go into the gourmet high end food industry as a CEO’ — I think it’s a little strange. You just don’t have that experience and the investors are going to see that you have no idea what you are doing and why are you leading this company. So you have to have appreciation and experience – and yes, you do have to love what you are doing, love your business and know what’s out there.”
One of Rubin’s food related investments is iJukebox by DisruptiveApps, interactive music for restaurants and bars that allows customers to make requests at their tables, just like a jukebox. Customers that don’t like the song that is being played can put on a song of their own to play. They have 7,000 family friendly requests –it’s all scrubbed music that comes over the venues speakers and does not include heavy metal or anything that somebody might not like during their dinner time. Currently they are in 20 Red Robins, four Applebees’ and three Chilis’.
Founder Chip Selly was at this event trying to raise more money the company had just closed a round of funding for $400K. “This was very hard to create, but I never wanted to give up. Certainly there were plenty of challenges along the way like getting all the music licensing and contacts and then having to integrate our backend with a company called MediaNet that has 22 million tracks. Now we stream their music.”