We’re proud to partner with next-gen food & agriculture pitch competition Foodbytes!, an initiative by Rabobank.

In the following Q&A with Nina Meijers, you’ll learn more about Foodbytes! motivation, activities and how you may participate in their upcoming event in London:

Rabobank is bringing their next generation food & agri pitch competition, FoodBytes!, to London for the first time on 12 & 13 September. To mingle with leading food game changers and the global FB! team, reserve your spot at their cocktail hour on 14 June with the password ILOVEFOODBYTES here

Could you share the purpose and mission of FoodBytes? 

FoodBytes! aims to discover and empower the most groundbreaking food and agriculture startups.

The next-generation pitch competition is the brainchild of Rabobank, a leading global food and agriculture bank. The networking platform gives entrepreneurs the support, connections and insights they need to scale their businesses.

Rabobank believes that sustainability and innovation are critical in promoting a thriving industry that will feed the increasing global population. FoodBytes! is just one part of our Banking for Food vision to ‘grow a better world together’ by 2050.

Through FoodBytes!, we want to help turn today’s most promising ideas into tomorrow’s impactful solutions.

What have been some of your most valuable success moment so far? 

It’s all about the numbers for us.

We launched FoodBytes! in February 2015 and the momentum has been incredible. Since then, 1,400 companies have applied from 35 countries, 210 start-ups have pitched in three continents and more than 3,500 people have attended our events to discover the innovators and innovations pioneering the future.

There are too many success stories to share, but we think feedback from our pitch companies themselves speaks volumes.

‘The experience was transformative for our company. It validated that our business model had legs, and it helped us articulate how sustainability made good business sense. The interactions with judges and mentors helped us challenge our business strategy, and the experience of pitching in front of an audience helped us distill our story.’ Ravi Jolly – Co-Founder & President, I Heart Keenwah

‘We took part for the opportunity to meet investors, but what we got was so much more. We met industry experts through the mentoring sessions that gave us insights and benefited from direct feedback about our business and specific markets. The experience has allowed us to self-reflect and prepare ourselves and our business for the next phase.’ Faisal Ansari – Strategy Officer, The Real Co

What three things that unite the FB! Community?

We’re challengers pushing the boundaries in different ways: startups disrupting the status quo, food and agriculture companies looking for new ways to do business, investors hungry for the next big ideas and media who want to shine a spotlight on these challengers coming together to transform the industry.

FoodBytes! attendees have described themselves as a massive food innovation cheerleading squad. We love that. The passion and curiosity of the FoodBytes! challengers has created an unparalleled community of positive thinkers and doers.

What’s different about FoodBytes!?

We double down on mentorship. For the pitch companies selected to participate, the mentor day sets FoodBytes! apart from any other initiatives in this space.

The day before they pitch, entrepreneurs take part in a one-day mentorship bonanza that includes personal and small group sessions with experts in everything from PR and branding to fundraising and legal advice.

They rehearse their pitches in front of a panel of industry judges and receive hard-hitting feedback to help improve their performance, and then we wrap things up with a VIP cocktail party that allows the startups to connect with Rabobank’s clients, investors and the media.

Entrepreneurs who’ve taken part describe the mentor day as a ‘food-focused business school crash course,’ but the best way to get a feel for the full experience it is to hear from someone who’s been there.

What’s next for 2018 and beyond? 

Over 60 startups pitch on our stage every year, and their innovations are an incredibly exciting barometer of what’s to come.

The winning startups from our recent Montreal event are saving fish, bees and maple trees. Their products and technologies are focused on the triple bottom-line, proving that sustainable innovation throughout the supply chain is the way forward.

Judges’ Choice Award winner SmartCatch has developed technology to reduce commercial fishing by-catch. With 25% of fish caught by nets now going to waste at a cost of $50b per year globally, its ‘eyes in the net’ hardware allows commercial fishermen to reduce by-catch and increase profits. While its blockchain-enabled software digitizes the fish supply chain to combat illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing – providing greater transparency from net to table.

The People’s Choice Award winner Nectar is empowering our pollinators and stewarding the $20b beekeeping industry. Its data-driven apiary management platform helps beekeepers monitor hive conditions like temperature, humidity and queen bee activity non-invasively, keeping honey bees happy, healthy and pollinating our food.

The Highly Commended Award winner SAP! is filling the gap between seltzer and kombucha, making low-sugar, low-calorie, sparkling superfood beverages with maple and birch tree sap. Beyond bringing a new product to the $60bn beverage market, SAP! is on a mission to create a new source of income in the rural Vermont economy.

We salute all three, and can’t wait to see the next crop of companies pitch at FoodBytes! London on 13 September.


Are you ready to take your food or agriculture startup to the next level?
Learn more about the criteria and apply today! Deadline: Sunday 1 July.