RutgersX, the food accelerator at the Rutgers Food Innovation Center (FIC), announced today their 2015 cohort of participating companies. Each of these food companies will make a pitch presentation in front of an audience of potential funders, strategic partners, customers and fellow food entrepreneurs at the RutgersX – Accelerating Food Entrepreneurs Conference on November 16, 2015. In addition to the pitching sessions, the conference agenda will also include panel discussions with food industry leaders, conversations with successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, and remarks from state and national government leaders.
This year’s participating companies are all current or former clients of Rutgers Food Innovation Center and/or clients affiliated with their International Soft Landings Programs. The inaugural cohort includes nine companies.
“We’re excited to present such a talented group of entrepreneurs as our first cohort of companies,” said Lou Cooperhouse, founder of RutgersX and director of the Rutgers Food Innovation Center. “They all offer unique and differentiated products with initial success in the marketplace and significant potential for growth.”
Following are profiles of the cohort companies:
Brewla Bars (www.brewlabars.com) are a new take on the classic ice pop. Bold and refreshing, each flavor uses brewed teas or botanicals to excite your tastebuds. The all-natural ice pops contain only 20-50 calories per bar, little or no added sugar, and a boost of vitamins and minerals to support a healthy lifestyle. Brother and sister team Daniel and Rebecca Dengrove launched the company in 2012, and have been on a fast track ever since, most notably landing the Sam Adams “Brewing the American Dream” pitch winning contest in 2013.
Chia Star (www.chiastar.com) is a delicious line of beverages made with chia seed, fruits and berries. Chia seed has a nutritional profile packed with omega 3’s, a substantial amount of calcium, antioxidants, potassium, protein, fiber and manganese, while maintaining a low sugar profile. Sara Erb, nutritionist and passionate health food activist, launched Chia Star in 2012 and has been growing the company through her unwavering passion for wellbeing, support to youth and community and wildly delicious line-up of flavors.
DouxMatok (www.douxmatok.com) has developed, tested, and is currently optimizing technologies to make sugars with enhanced sweetness, enabling the use of less sugar in a variety of food products and beverages while retaining the same full sugar experience. An inter-disciplinary team with expertise in food-tech, bio-tech, applied chemistry and culinary arts leads the company. The team has successfully led other ventures from seed to full-scale commercialization.
First Field (www.first-field.com) makes value-added pantry staples from fresh ripe fruit and vegetables that are sourced directly from New Jersey growers. Their line started with tomato ketchups and now includes Pure Strained Tomatoes as well as seasonal favorites like pickle relish and cranberry sauce. Husband and wife team Patrick Leger and Theresa Viggiano began testing recipes from produce grown on their small farm and launched into retail in the fall of 2011. They now source tons of fresh produce from farms across the region, capturing the local harvest into year round enjoyment for their growing and devoted customer base.
Hot Sauce 4 Good (www.hotsauce4good.com) is a small, family run company dedicated to supporting charities with the infrastructure to deliver their profits where they are needed most. The company donates a minimum of $1 per bottle sold, which enables them to fund projects around the globe. Their efforts have helped raise over $65k to date for the charities they support.
Jalma Farms (www.jalmafarms.com) produces all-natural products made with fresh local fruits including beach plums and superfood aronia berries, a minimal amount of pure cane sugar, and other natural ingredients. The company is deeply dedicated to maintaining the natural coastline of Cape May County and actively participates in dune restoration through beach plum plantings. They are experiencing significant growth throughout the region.
Jin+Ja (drinkjinja.com) is a deliciously powerful blend of fresh ginger, green tea, cayenne pepper, mint and lemon. Founder and CEO of Canada Enterprises, Reuben Canada created this beverage. The product is now sold in thousands of retail locations throughout the U.S. and beyond. Jin+ja was the recipient of the Specialty Food Association Sofi Award for Outstanding Cold Beverage in 2013.
Megas Yeeros (megasyeeros.com) launched in 2007 in Greece and opened its first U.S. production facility in 2014. With national food service distribution in the U.S. and extensive reach throughout Europe, this global company is about to enter the retail market with an authentic line of seasoned and stuffed kebabs branded My grillers.
Nutrasorb (nutrasorb.com) ingredients are functionally enhanced, food-grade complexes of proteins and phytonutrients. Patent-pending Nutrasorb® technology concentrates and delivers beneficial compounds from fruits and vegetables. In addition, Nutrasorb has developed and marketed enhanced botanical ingredients and crops pushing the frontiers of innovation to a new level. Some of the products developed include: Rutgers Scarlet lettuce which contains more beneficial polyphenols (antioxidants) than blueberries, Quinoa Milk™ for sports performance, muscle mass and strength enhancement, and Nutringa™ which has demonstrated powerful anti–inflammatory activity and skin rejuvenation potential.
The RutgersX Accelerator Program was made possible by funding received from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) in the fall of 2014. The Rutgers FIC was a national winner of the SBA’s first program designed to create or enhance business accelerators. The accelerator was the only award recipient in New Jersey, and one of only 50 winners nationwide from over 800 applicants.
The RutgersX – Accelerating Food Entrepreneurs Conference will be held during Global Entrepreneurship Week, on Monday, November 16, 2015, at the Rutgers College Avenue Student Center in New Brunswick. Cost to attend the conference is $149 per person until November 1, and $199 per person after November 1.
For more information on the RutgersX Accelerator Program and RutgersX – Accelerating Food Entrepreneurs Conference, including information on registration and sponsorships, visit x.rutgers.edu.