We’re wrapping up the summer Scale Series with a recap of this years’ MN Cup Food Ag & Beverage Pitch Slam. The Scale Series has focused on the food and beverage start-up scene, with a look at how entrepreneurs are impacting this innovative industry. And the pitch slam was a perfect place to see it all in action.
The Food, Ag & Beverage division of the MN Cup held this years’ pitch slam on August 22 and included a full evening of events and awards. Prior to the program itself, more than 20 local MN food and beverage companies set up booths to showcase their brands and provide samples for the attendees (it’s open to the public!). There was a wide range of “start-ups” represented, from Toom, a Lebanese Garlic Dip to GroShed, a pre-fabricated hydroponic gardening system.
The program kicked off with a message around connectivity from Carla Vernon, President of the Natural & Organic unit at General Mills. Working with brands like Annie’s and Epic Provisions, there are so many examples of how the ecosystem of food continues to become more intertwined.
The ten semifinalists showed up ready to pitch. Having seen these companies up close from a “business plan” perspective over the past few months, it was incredible to see how each of the semifinalists brought their story to life in such a compelling way. With just three minutes on the timer, the semifinalists pitched their business to an engaged audience. Sharing their story, the state of their business and progress made to date, and their vision for the future, it was an inspiring evening that truly showcased the innovation happening “in our own backyard”.
JTM Scale Award
This year, our team vetted the semifinalists with rigor to determine who would receive the JTM Scale Award of $25K of in-kind agency services. We knew that winner would be a highly sought-after account here at the agency – our team will likely battle a bit for who gets to work on the business. We were thrilled to award Atlas Provisions as this year’s winner! In the words of the team, the company is “nailing it with a terrific story and great product at the intersection of amplifying consumer trends in snacking”. And, we absolutely love the story that this entrepreneur, Sarah Pritzker, is solving for and her dedication to the entire process. Atlas Provisions is a snacking brand that aims to bring global flavors with a story and a mission to local consumers. The lotus seed pops are high in magnesium and potassium, made with only ingredients you would find in your pantry, and are delicious in our experience of all four flavors!
The event concluded with a number of other awards from enablers like the Department of Agriculture who awarded funds to Hoyo and Planet Princess, as the “Most Ready to Grow”. The “Powered by the Crowd” winner was Atlas Provisions, for additional funding support. And of course, the finale included the announcment of the three semifinalists that are continuing on to the next phase of the MN Cup. A big congratulations to Nutraphagia (the EAT bar), Nexyst360 and Sanos Nutrition!
It has been another exciting season to date with the MN Cup and we can’t wait to get work underway with Atlas Provisions. As we get the chance to work closely with the founder, we know that there will be exciting work ahead. As for the broader competition, one of the three semi-finalists will make it to the final round of MN Cup, scheduled to take place on October 14th at the Carlson School of Business.