Here at Branchfood we offer co-working space for food startups that believe collaboration and education are the keys to successful entrepreneurship. Below are just a few of our resident companies and the people who make them so great.
One of our newest collaborations, Clover offers a different kind of "fast food." The menu follows what farms provide, meaning more opportunity for creativity in the kitchen and more potential for customers to discover new foods. Lucia Jayazeri cites the spring dug parsnip sandwich as the perfect example of this model: "We're beyond seasonal, in a way. Spring dug parsnips have a two-week season, so they're kind of a spring vegetable but also kind of a late winter vegetable. After that, there's a good two months before you really see anything else coming up out of the ground." Clover's personal contact with farmers is a big part of what makes the menu so interesting, fresh, and most importantly, delicious.
Clover food trucks and brick-and-mortars already have a strong presence in Greater Boston, and soon they'll be expanding with two new locations. Founder Ayr Muir is an MIT graduate, which Jayazeri says helps to shape the expansion process. "Every time we open a new restaurant we treat it like an experiment, we learn a little bit more," she says. "What type of pre-opening activities works really well, what type of signage. Who we really need on opening day to be there talking to customers." With these new locations, Clover's looking to fill positions from assistant manager to kitchen prep. If you're interested in creating healthy, yummy food -- or eating it -- check them out!
Founder Tom Tong already has an established bao empire in China, and now he's set his sights on Boston. Austin Collier has been scoping out locations, vendors, and any other necessities from the Branchfood space. Last October, he left for a month to learn bao-making in China, and it's this thorough training that sets the company apart. There are a few people making bao in the States, but Collier says their products are Americanized, not authentic. "We have a CEO who would throw that in the trash every time -- it's not good enough. Once people see the trick is that we do this religiously to get to this level, they'll be blown away and understand it's a real art form."
On a trip to Providence, Tong was struck by the similarities between Boston and Hangzhou, the location of his business in China. Collier says both cities have large populations of students and young professionals: "inquisitive people who care more about what they eat, who care that it's healthier, who enjoy and understand the importance of an artisanal product." In China, Tong's stores have glass fronts so customers can watch the product being made, and bao is sold directly from the bamboo steamer. It's this unique, fresh-as-it-gets approach that Collier believes will translate well in Boston.
Collier chose Branchfood because he wanted a co-working space that would provide more integration into Boston's food scene. "It's great to see what other people are doing," he says. "Not only their creative processes and what their end goals are, but the way they talk about their food, how they want to enter the market, how they want to interface with customers." He met our CEO Lauren while touring shared office spaces, and the rest is history!
The Carrot Project offers services to help small farms and food businesses recognize opportunity for financial capital. "Our work facilitates access to financing and business support so our companies can grow into thriving, enduring enterprises," says Evie Toland. "We make long-term investments in the building blocks of the food system that contribute to healthful food for consumers, a replenished environment, and strengthened regional and local economies." Since 2009, the Carrot Project's lending and loan packaging has totaled more than $1m distributed to over fifty businesses.
The Carrot Project serves farmers and food processors located in Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, New York and Connecticut, and Toland says they also partner with organizations within each state to create a stronger economic infrastructure that supports the local food system: "we work to develop programs, conduct research, and provide training to build capacity of the local food sector to support a vibrant, sustainable food economy." The Carrot Project was founded in 2005 by Dorothy Suput, the first regional organizer of the 1995 Farm Bill. They're beginning to expand into urban farming, and we're so glad to be a part of their journey!
Branchfood brings together companies focused on food product and beverage creation, media, food waste/food recovery, restaurant technologies, marketplace platforms, and agriculture technology. Additionally, our thought leadership and deep understanding of the food ecosystem has attracted food industry leaders, who have expressed interest in leveraging our platform to identify portfolio investments.
Our shared workspace, located at 50 Milk Street in downtown Boston, is the epicenter of this activity where we further foster, incubate and accelerate the companies we work with. Residential membership provides free access to Branchfood events, our community of food experts, advisors, investors and mentors, posting on our job board, and networking with members of food industry, and promotion in our newsletter, social media, and events we host. Space amenities provided by the CIC include wireless internet, unmetered copying/printing and conference room usage, high end office furniture, concierge services, phones lines and domestic calls, mailing address, fully stocked kitchens, 24/7 access, basic tech support, and month to month payment terms. We organize targeted resources around each company's needs, host events that help showcase and market their products, and dedicate time to helping them achieve their goals.