Some Food Startups and Other Non-Techs to Watch

Hampton Creek's Just Mayo, Back to the Roots, Zinepak and Front & Center Marketing warrant a look.

Variety of Organic Spices USDA

When people think of startups, they’re often associated with young, driven entrepreneurs who are disrupting a market with technology or apps. This may be what we recognize as a startup, but the term can refer to any young business filled with potential and innovation, especially if it offers a new product or service.

We like companies that are doing something new, filling a gap in the market or exposing a market’s weaknesses, so we wanted to shed light on two food startups and a few others working outside the field of technology.

Here are some entrepreneurial companies you should keep your eye on:

Back to the Roots

This company was founded in 2009 in Oakland, California and focuses on developing products to connect people with their food. Co-founders Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez decided to become full-time urban mushroom farmers after learning in a business ethics class that mushrooms could be grown on recycled coffee grounds.

Why you should watch

They have been featured on Businessweek’s Top 25 Social Entrepreneurs and Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list – and they’re succeeding with an ethical business to boot. They’ve now expanded into consumer products with their US-grown, stoneground grain-based cereals and accompanying breakfast toppers. Add innovative packaging and an authentic story to make this food startup one to keep your eye on.


You may not have heard of this product yet, but your tweens probably have. The startup entertainment company combines music from superstars with custom fan merchandise and a magazine. The company was founded in 2011 by Brittany Hodak and Kim Kaupe who recognized a need for entertainers to connect with their fans in a more engaging way.

Why you should watch

In their last year, they sold more than one million copies, spurring 400% growth, making sales of more than $12 million at Walmart alone. ZinePaks retail for $7 to $17 and they partner with every major record label, showing that there is still a market for physical music distribution when it’s combined with a bigger experience.

Hampton Creek

Hampton Creek is working to make eggs obsolete and get rid of food that is bad for our bodies by using technology to make healthier food that still tastes good.

Why you should watch

Nick Davis, Regional Executive Chef at Whole Foods, called their eggless mayonnaise a “game changer”. This product alone was so successful they were sued by Hellmann’s (you know you’ve made it big when…). CEO Josh Tetrick must be onto something: the company has raised $120 million from different venture capital funds.

Front & Center Marketing

Front & Center Marketing is a Boulder-based company that helps create awareness for natural food brands through marketing events.

Why you should watch

Founder Avi Gardner discovered a challenge faced by natural food brands (little to no marketing budget) and addressed it by merging her love of food and marketing. Their services are offered throughout the country, helping businesses drive sales and brand awareness.

There is more to startup culture than technology – not everyone can be a developer! Hopefully this has opened your eyes to seeing that there are talented people offering innovative solutions to business around the world – without using technology.

Photo by USDA.

BuyerSynthesis brings consumer insights to food, culture and clothing brands and their agencies to refine product strategy, user experience and communications.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.