Net Impact Food Forward
Apr 01, 2016 • By

A competition for food innovators

Not every good origin story begins in a garage – many are cooked up in the kitchen and more importantly, they’re all born from a clear mission.

For Kristin Groos Richmond and Kirsten Saenz Tobey, co-founders of Revolution Foods, the goal was simple: to change the way America eats, starting with children.

Of course, ask either founder and they’ll surely say that simple is does not make for simple does. One anecdote alone from Revolution Foods can illustrate this point.

The company touts its school lunches to be free of high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, hormones and antibiotics, but in an Economist article about the company, Groos Richmond revealed what was behind the magic of its products, such as a saucy, kid-friendly chicken wing that’s never seen the inside of a deep fryer: more than 1,000 attempts, plus tastings and focus groups.

And so it’s clear. To have a grand idea in the first place is just one piece of the puzzle. Implementing it is another and making it successful over the long term is yet one more.

Enter the Forward Food competition, launched by Oakland, Calif.-based nonprofit Net Impact, in partnership with sponsors General Mills and the Campbell Soup Company.

Forward Food

The gist of it is this: participants will come up with an original idea to improve the future of food. Any business solution that advances consumption, production, or distribution of more sustainable food or drink options is welcome to enter the competition. They’ll submit that idea as a business brief.

Net Impact Then, an in-house team of Net Impact judges will give feedback to all the submissions, ultimately choosing ten finalists. Those top submissions will continue to the next round, where one winner and two runners-up will be chosen by an expert panel comprised of (you guessed it) Tobey from Revolution Foods, plus Seth Goldman from Honest Tea, Jerry Lynch from General Mills and Dave Stangis from Campbell Soup Company.

In judging these ideas, panelists will ask things like: How is it innovative? How is it sustainable? Does it fill a need in the market? And perhaps most importantly: is it even possible to achieve?

The top three teams will win passes to Net Impact’s annual conference, to be held this November in Philadelphia. The Conference has long been a way to drive Net Impact’s founding mission: to empower professionals to “use their careers to drive transformational change in the workplace and the world.”

Net Impact

As a multi-year Net Impact Conference sponsor, General Mills is proud to be a part of the first Food Forward Competition.

“Not only is the Food Forward Competition a natural extension of our strong partnership with Net Impact, but it also reflects our commitment to innovation in food,” said John Haugen, vice president and general manager of 301 INC. “We recognize that the vision and passion of today’s entrepreneurs can meet consumer needs in meaningful ways. That’s why we invest time and money to help them develop, grow and expand their businesses.”

301 INC, the new business and venturing unit for General Mills, focuses on building partnerships with emerging food brands to create breakthrough innovation in the food space. Through 301 INC, entrepreneurs and early stage food companies have access to capital as well as the deep expertise and resources of General Mills. General Mills, in turn, identifies and invests in opportunities to meet changing consumer needs faster than ever.

As an October 22, 2015 Fortune article points out, this might be the superpower that early-stage startups possess: “[their] lack of scale makes them nimbler to compete with fast changes in the grocery aisle.”

Have a unique idea that’s not quite ready for prime time?

Enter the Net Impact Food Forward Competition this spring and get that idea rolling!

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