If you go
What: Food + Tech Startup Weekend
When: 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17 – 8 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 19
Where: New Hope Network, 5541 Central Avenue, Suite 150
Cost: $99; $50 for students; early-bird tickets are $75
Got a billion-dollar food idea? Techstars wants to hear about it. The Boulder-based accelerator is hosting its first-ever food themed startup weekend.
More than 1,000 startup weekends have been held around the world, according to Jordan Rothenberg, Techstars regional manager, but none have tackled the dinner table. The hope, Rothenberg said, is that bringing together two of Boulder‘s biggest industries will create changes around how we eat.
We caught up with Rothenberg to learn the what, how, why and who of the three-day event, running Nov. 17-19:
1.) Why is Techstars interested in the food space right now?
We recognize that two of the many things Boulder is known for is natural foods and tech startups. We‘re a hub for both, but those worlds run pretty parallel. We‘ve already seen a lot of intersection in food and tech at the national level, but those worlds are inherently different in Boulder.
Our goal is to create some intersection. As our food systems change, as the way we shop for food changes, where our food comes from changes, there‘s opportunity.
2.) Is this part of a larger move by Techstars to get into the food industry?
It doesn‘t necessarily signal a direction we‘re headed. It‘s not that we‘re spinning out a food accelerator. Though if I had it my way, we would.
It‘s an area in which we could make a big impact. But there are other things that would have to happen, other pieces to fall in place before we could pursue it.
3.) Where are the opportunities for technology to improve food systems?
Food production is a huge one. Everyone‘s so conscious of what we‘re putting in our bodies. How do we go from not very sustainable methods of farming to bringing food production to more urban areas or rural areas?
There‘s a lot of trends around how can we take food byproduct that would normally get disposed of and create something of value out of that. We do have a gentleman coming who invented a homemade extruder.
There‘s also a lot of activity around looking for alternative sources of protein. Wendy Lu McGill from Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch is bringing some of her products for attendees to experiment with. It‘s a cricket farm.
4.) Does the tech crowd ‘get‘ the values of Boulder‘s food scene? I mean, the tech world gave us Soylent.
We‘re not necessarily trying to create the future Soylents of the world, although we don‘t want to turn away that idea if someone has it. In this case, we do think we‘re going to get a wide variety of far-out food ideas.
Our goal is to really see the techies and the foodies coming together. Food is something we interact with pretty often, but I would say that 90 percent or more on the tech side don‘t know what Naturally Boulder is. They don‘t know what New Hope Network is, and that they run two of the largest food shows in the world.
A lot of times at startup weekends, tech people will come just to sit back and listen. We‘re really encouraging attendees at our program to interact with those entrepreneurs. Hear about their origin story, their mission, where they‘ve been struggling.
5.) What‘s the format of the event?
The purpose of this and every startup weekend is to provide a platform for aspiring entrepreneurs or people who are curious. There‘s a platform to share ideas, then hopefully form a team and spend the weekend creating something. It culminates Sunday night with a five-minute presentation to investors, like Shark Tank.
Because it‘s food themed, that‘s obviously more of a component than at other events. We‘re going all out and deliver on each of the meals. Attendees are going to be really spoiled.