The Boston food scene is heating up with leading-edge startups working to reinvent everything from production to consumption. Last week, Startup Stir launched their 3rd annual ‘Foodie Founders’ event where Vice Cream, NOLA’s Salsa, and our very own Branchfood founder, Lauren Abda, led the discussion on navigating the ups and downs of starting out in the food and beverage world. Topics covered ranged from branding, scaling up, and the ever important reality of raising capital.
Inspired by the discussion, we took a look at some of the rising Boston start-ups. We tend to focus on local products coming from culinary kitchens, but there is so much more happening to improve the food scene as we know it. Looking beyond the latest cupcake, here is Branchfood's list of Top 7 food stalwarts and start-ups to keep an eye on!
When people think artificial intelligence (AI), they tend to go first to Hollywood’s humanoid robots like CHAPPiE or Robot & Frank, but the developers of Eat with Ava are making use of AI less for lovable conversationalists and more to develop intelligent systems in the food sphere. The premise of this local start-up is ‘intelligent eating.’ Users can take a photo of their meal, send it to Ava, and with the help of AI and nutritionists, receive the health and caloric information of their meal. Ava then links it to a personal food journal so users can track all their meals and offers personalized recommendations for food and fitness based on individual needs.
“Live life. Dig in.” In this tech-centric ‘hub’ of a city, it is easy to get into the mentality that best foodie-ventions must be formulated in a lab, but Dan Schorr, the founder of Vice Cream, is revolutionizing the way we eat in unexpected ways. Boston’s newest (as in just launched last month) delicious dessert business takes a stand on the philosophy of food. Based on his personal journey from avid athlete and businessman to cancer survivor, Vice cream is all about savoring life while you can. With ‘unapologetically indulgent’ flavors such as Breakfast in Bed or Higher Ground, this product reminds us to enjoy the moment once in awhile. Available now at Tedeschi Food Shops and Roche Bros. Supermarkets
There’s nothing upsetting about this spoiler alert. Founded in Cambridge at MIT, this web-based donation platform and secondary market is closing the gap between food waste and hunger. Using real-time technology, Spoiler Alert helps food businesses sell and donate unsold inventory, 'ugly but lovely' produce, and near-code products. Spoiler Alert ranks among the cohort of 2016 Techstars Boston and is currently live in New England as a business to business marketplace. The company is looking to expand their marketplace offering, as well as enter the enterprise software market to cater to large-scale food distributors, manufacturers, and retailers.
With the transition into warm, sunny weather, fresh vegetables pour into Boston’s markets, but we all know the season of plentiful produce is short-lived. Backyard gardening offers a lot of merit this time of year, but SproutsIO is looking to make at home gardening year-round with an all-in-one indoor gardening system. So much more than a pot and a heat-lamp, the fully-automated smart system grows plants in a soil-free combined hydroponic and aeroponic system. This set-up senses the light, water, and nutrient needs of the plant so you can monitor and care for your plants directly through an iOS app. Not only does this offer incredible convenience for a household, but this holds the potential to revolutionize plant production as it only consumes 2% of the water and 40% of the nutrients required by conventional soil-based farming.
We have all experienced the dread of the lunch rush; densely packed crowds, long lines, and a mad sprint to finish by the end of lunch hour. Bringing innovation to ready-to-eat foods, this powerhouse partnership between two local start-ups, LeanBox and Bevi, is looking to overturn employee cafeterias with healthier, environmentally friendly options. LeanBox offers a kiosk of healthy meals and an on-tap kegerator for cold brew coffees and teas, while Bevi provides a customizable drink machine for flavored or carbonated waters. The real genius in these products is in the compact designs made for the workplace. Eliminating shipping, packaging, and food costs, it’s easy to see how these companies go hand in hand.
Ever stare into the aisles of the grocery store at a total loss for what to buy? Picking out the perfect contents for a week of healthy yet delicious meals is no simple task, but this innovative Boston-based team is trying to change that. Based on the recommendations of food leaders and nutrition experts, Lighter tells users exactly what to buy and how to prepare it. Bringing plant-based nutrition advice to our fingertips, this program is a customized, taking into account everything from food preferences, time constraints, and even your kitchen supplies.
Want to learn more about the up and coming food&beverage scene? Subscribe to Branchfood's newsletter to receive coverage on Boston's rapidly changing food innovation sector!