New Good Food Accelerator Grads Ready To Put Pedal To The Metal

by Bob Benenson, FamilyFarmed

FamilyFarmed always approaches the graduation of its latest Good Food Accelerator cohort with gratitude and anticipation. We are grateful that we get to work with and assist promising entrepreneurs who are seeking to grow their companies (and also happen to be super-nice people too). The anticipation is looking forward to the great things these companies will do as they move on to their next steps.

The eight companies in the Accelerator’s fourth annual cohort received their diplomas on Monday (April 23). All described positive benefits from their participation in the program, with the founders of five of the companies attributing major “pivots” in their product strategies to their Accelerator fellowships:

• Lil’ Gourmets — which is producing a line of fresh, refrigerated baby foods that are high in flavor and low in sugar — officially launched at FamilyFarmed’s Good Food EXPO held March 23-24 in Chicago.

• Departure Snacks: This startup company, which seasons California almonds with international spice blends, rebranded from Spice Foods, its original name, during the six-month Accelerator course.

• Ready To Brands: When the Accelerator cohort began, this company was known as HumbleEarth and targeted its natural anti-nausea ice pops to pregnant women dealing with morning sickness. With advice taken during the cohort, the company was rebranded as Ready To Brands and now markets its initial product for general anti-nausea relief.

• The Farinata Project: The Accelerator helped this company decide to expand beyond its original concept — a flatbread in three flavors made with chickpea flour — to a frozen pizza, soon to be on the market, also made with a chickpea flour crust.

• Posh Nosh (No Denial Foods): No Denial Foods produces delicious, indulgent but healthy nut-based snack mixes. Its products are soon to be rebranded as Posh Nosh and aimed at a specialty foods market.

The Good Food Accelerator’s overall impact is seen in the more than $50 million in debt and equity financing deals reached by businesses in its network, as reported recently in a page 3 article in Crain’s Chicago Business. And the Accelerator will be center stage at FamilyFarmed’s annual Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference on Tuesday, June 19 at the Morgan Manufacturing events space in Chicago’s West Loop (tickets are now on sale at the Conference’s website).

And look for follow-up articles here at Good Food On Every Table about the presentations made to Accelerator graduates by Tera Johnson, an entrepreneur who built Tera’s Whey into a major national company, and Michael Bashaw, president of Whole Foods Market‘s Midwest region.

Without further adieu, the Good Food Accelerator Class of 2018:


The 2018 Good Food Accelerator class photo. Front row (from left): Rebecca Frabizio, Family Farmed Director of Entrepreneurial Programs; Debbie Wood, No Denial Foods; Mark Muller, Ready To Brands; Conor McInerney, Departure Snacks; Paul Krumpe, Cultured Love; Jim Slama, FamilyFarmed CEO; Shelby Parchman, Good Food Accelerator Financing & Innovation Strategist. Back row: Shibani Baluja, Lil’ Gourmets; Charlotte Flinn, FamilyFarmed Board chairman; Aqeel Wahiduddin, Verzênay Patisserie; Ali Cole, The Farinata Project; Jodie Krumpe, Cultured Love; Ryan Crane, Tempo; Chelsea Callahan, FamilyFarmed Programs Coordinator.

Cultured Love: Paul and Jodie Krumpe created Cultured Love — which produces organic sauerkraut with a variety of ethnic flavorings — to promote the health benefits of fermented foods. A profile on Cultured Love can be found on Good Food On Every Table.

Departure Snacks: Conor McInerney created this company (formerly Spice Foods), which produces three varieties of California almonds seasoned with international flavors: Argentinian Chimichurri, Ethopian Berbere and Mediterranean Za’atar.

Lil’ Gourmets: Shibani Baluja used her past experiences at Kraft Foods and as a new mother to create a line of fresh, refrigerated baby foods that even grownups will agree are delicious.

No Denial Foods (Posh Nosh): Debbie Wood created the recipes for her company’s delicious nut-based snack mixes to satisfy her own desire for sweet treats that did not conflict with her diabetes and celiac disease. A profile on No Denial Foods can be found on Good Food On Every Table. 

Ready To Brands: Mark Muller is founder of Ready To Brands, which produces a nausea relief product using natural ingredients.

Tempo: Ryan Crane is a co-founder of this company, which makes bottled unsweetened sparkling teas that are great as alternatives to soft drinks containing too much sugar or artificial sweeteners.

The Farinata Project: Owner Ali Cole is expanding to frozen pizzas with chickpea crusts after starting the business with chickpea flour flatbreads based on traditional Italian recipes.

Verzênay Patisserie: Aqeel Wahiduddin and wife Arshiya Farheen (a pastry chef) created this company, which produces delectable baked goods sold fresh at Chicago farmers markets and frozen for supermarket sales.



Shibani Baluja of Lil’ Gourmets received her Good Food Accelerator diploma from FamilyFarmed CEO Jim Slama (left) and Michael Bashaw, Whole Foods Market’s Midwest region president. This ceremony was repeated with all the Accelerator graduates.



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