We launched Root Kitchen in Veganuary 2021 and in that time we have been really lucky to have taken part in two of the world's leading food tech business incubators and accelerators so we how thought we'd write a blog post about our experience on each. As well as giving an update on what we've been up to, we thought a quick post might be worth it for any food startups considering applying in the future.
This first post is all about our time on the ProVeg Incubator, the world’s leading Incubator of plant-based and cultured food startups. Their mission is to shape the future of food by supporting pioneering companies that are developing disruptive alternatives to animal-based products, ingredients, and services.
Startups join a 12-week, expert-led programme that is designed to accelerate the growth and success of the business by giving entrepreneurs access to the industry knowledge, resources, and network they need to achieve their goals while supporting them every step of the way.
How would we sum up our experience on the ProVeg Incubator?
We really enjoyed it. They have a smart, well-connected, experienced team that focuses on the vegan and alternative protein space and were ready to help us in any way we needed. Also, being around other mission aligned startups is great as you get to share ideas and contacts and are inspired by seeing the positive steps each company in the cohort is taking.
Why did we decide to apply to the ProVeg Incubator over others?
The ProVeg Incubator is the world’s leading Incubator of plant-based and cultured food startups. Most other business incubators that we were looking at were very tech-focused or looked at FMCG brands as a whole which just wasn't right for our business. Also, I knew a founder from one of their previous cohorts, and I listened to a podcast where he talked about his experience. Additionally, because of the pandemic, the ProVeg incubator seminars were all conducted online, which was very convenient.
What appealed the most to us about the ProVeg Incubator?
The network. It makes sense that a vegan and alternative protein focused incubator would be able to help get us in front of mission aligned investors quicker than we could do ourselves. There were numerous fireside talks from inspirational start up founders such as co-founder and CEO of Wild Earth, Ryan Bethencourt and David Benzaquen, CEO of investment firm Mission: Plant LLC. Those types of introductions we inspirational and invaluable to us.
What was the best bit about our experience at the ProVeg Incubator?
To begin with, the incubator team include a diverse range of abilities and is extremely generous with their time and knowledge. We had a lengthy business plan when we started the programme, but reducing it into an investor-ready pitch deck was really beneficial. We were also assigned a mentor were we were given weekly 1 on 1 time to discuss how we were progressing with various key deliverables to ensure we had the fundamentals in place from which to grow the business. I enjoyed these sessions a lot and I really appreciate how our mentor, who had a corporate finance background, thinks about business.
Second, we worked with our mentor on a three-year financial model, in which we created a month-by-month forecast for what we want to achieve from things like funding, marketing, sales, and staffing, and then connected these to KPIs so we can track how we're doing and get a clear understanding of our funding milestones we'd need to hit our growth targets. This was a lot of fun, and it got me thinking about how we're going to track everything as our business grows.
Finally, we watched a masterclass with a prominent branding agency about discovering our business purpose, brand positioning, and marketing, which was fantastic. These guys really made us think about how we should position ourselves. As we are a relatively young brand that is still evolving, we haven’t nailed it down just yet but it means we're asking a lot of people the right questions.
How has the ProVeg Incubator helped our business?
They’ve actually helped us a huge amount already. On pitch day, which was to over 100 investors, retailers and plant based community members from across the world, we ended up talking to a number of venture capital firms in their network who expressed an interest in investing in our business.
They also introduced us to the founders of a number of their other portfolio companies who ProVeg international have invested in. They are further along in their path than we are and have faced similar challenges to those we will face. These sessions have already proven to be really beneficial to us, and it's always wonderful to speak with other entrepreneurs in comparable startups.
We’re also about to start reaching out to retailers and ProVeg have a wide network to facilitate introductions that will accelerate meetings.
Is it useful collaborating with fellow entrepreneurs?
Yes, I really enjoy it. Starting and running a business is tough, it requires a very broad range of skill. I believe that acknowledging your shortcomings is an important aspect of being an entrepreneur, and being around by so many talented people allows you to talk to them about areas you need help with or where you could benefit from a different viewpoint.
How was the application process?
Simple. ProVeg contacted us after we submitted a form and a deck to pitch to their selection committee. ProVeg make their decision quickly which is nice as it’s not a drawn out process. Because you only have 5 minutes to pitch and then a Q&A session, make sure you prepare your pitch ahead of time because it will go by quickly.
What’s been the most valuable lesson we've learnt on the ProVeg Incubator?
Set goals for all business activities and track them using KPIs. This may seem self-evident, but it's easy to overlook the importance of granularity when it comes to tasks and goals. For example, I'd never considered meeting a set amount of investors each month as a target to achieve. Yes, it is.
Investment. Startups frequently raise finance too late, and ProVeg emphasises the need of planning your fundraising ahead of time. This also provides you with the measurements and data points you'll need to reach the value you want to raise money at, so the advantages of that planning go beyond the money you're attempting to raise.
That's pretty much it. Overall, we had a fantastic time on the ProVeg incubator, and had a lot of help from a fantastic team. Also, if you're a vegan food or alternative protein product startup interested in joining, there's no time like the present so click this link and apply today! Similarly, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask them in comments section below, and I'll be happy to help.
Looking for something both vegan and delicious? Here at Root Kitchen we deliver frozen plant-based ready meals to your door.