At AFI, we empower people. We want the local food businesses we support and invest in to thrive as businesses. We want the investors and entrepreneurs we work with to have positive impact on the communities they serve. And, here in our very own office, we want to build the strongest AFI team we can to support the people in our Central Texas food system. That's why we are so excited to announce our newest team member: Evan Driscoll will serve as our new Associate, helping to support AFI's day to day planning, operations, and communications.
Evan has worked in food systems for the past 10 years. Before coming to AFI, Evan worked in Food Sourcing and Recovery at Central Texas Food Bank, where he worked with food businesses across Central Texas to recover and distribute surplus food. Prior to this, Evan was a Projects Manager and Farmers’ Market Coordinator with Sustainable Food Center where he managed the Farm to Work and Farm to School programs, in addition to the Downtown Farmers’ Market.
Evan has background in farm management, serving as a Farm Manager at Green Gate Farms in Austin, TX. Before this, he owned his own small farm – Sasquatch Acre – in Portland, OR.
Evan also helped co-founded the Central Texas Young Farmer Coalition, which helps connect farmers from around the state. And, he serves as the At-Large New and Beginning Farmer Board Position for the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association. He, his wife, and two kids live in Austin.
Evan is looking forward to continuing his work in local, sustainable food systems with AFI. The opportunity to blend sustainability across our economic, environmental, and the social and cultural landscape is an exciting place to be.
AFI Partners Curt Nelson, Eric de Valpine, and Jarred Maxwell tell their AFI "origin" stories... how they came to get involved in investing in local sustainable food companies and the founding of Austin Foodshed Investors.
What kind of companies should apply to AFI? Jarred & Curt discuss the breadth of the agriculture and food system, and their interests in investing in companies throughout the value chain. They also talk about the size of potential fundraising rounds (spoiler alert: small is OK) and the idea of "impact arbitrage".
More info: see AFI Target Companies.
AFI Partners Curt Nelson and Eric de Valpine discuss the "Fundraising Readiness Assessment", AFI's online tool for understanding gaps in an entrepreneur's ability to effectively raise money.
Free New Online Tool helps Local Sustainable Food Companies Assess their Readiness to Raise Outside Capital
AFI released a short video today describing their new tool "Fundraising Readiness Assessment", which helps entrepreneurs thinking about raising capital understand the process, players, and requirements of fundraising.
The tool, which is free and open to the public, can be accessed in the Raise Resources section of AFI's website, at http://www.austinfoodshedinvestors.org/raise-resources.html or directly at Fundraising Readiness Assessment.
AFI's Fundraising Readiness Assessment asks:
"After seeing hundreds of deals, in various states of "investor-readiness", we decided to create a free online self-service tool so that any company, anywhere, could analyze their fundraising gaps," said AFI Partner Curt Nelson. "And, for entrepreneurs that decide to work with us, the tool, along with our other tools, really helps create an actionable workplan that the founders can use to confidently progress toward raising money."
AFI Partners Curt Nelson and Eric de Valpine discuss "Px8," AFI's online tool for impact assessment and planning.
Free New Online Tool helps Social Enterprises Think About & Plan Their "Impact"
AFI released a short video today discussing their new tool "Px8" (pronounced "pixate"), which help local sustainable food companies - or any social enterprise really - think about and plan for "impact".
What is "Impact"?
We think of "Impact" as building "positive externalities" into your core business model. And, reducing or eliminating "negative externalities".
How Does Px8 Work?
Px8 is a free online tool that presents a variety of impact vectors - eight of them to be exact - that all happen to start with the letter "P" - for companies to think about. It asks questions about current and planned activities, and allows users to self-score on each of those vectors.
Learn More, & Use Px8
To learn more, including the Px8 Scoring Rubric and online tool, please visit the "Impact" page in the "Raise Resources" section of AFI's website.
AFI Co-Founder Jarred Maxwell muses on his journey through Slow Money, investment clubs, and the founding of Austin Foodshed Investors. This article originally appeared in the Winter 2016/17 issue of the Slow Money Journal.
One of the most difficult things I’ve experienced about working within the Slow Money community is the uncertainty that comes with trying to move in a fundamentally new direction. We are moving away from decades of centralizing, governmental, regulatory, and social institutionalization toward local investing in local food systems and a more hands-on and direct form of financing such ventures. It’s a bit unnerving, because there are no road maps for what we are doing—we have to create them as we go.
... click below to read the whole article, or see it at the Slow Money website here...
Austin Foodshed Investors partners Jarred Maxwell and Eric de Valpine discuss why they started investing in food, how the food sector is appropriate for "impact investing", and AFI's overall approach to local sustainable food companies.
"Every community, every family, every person is touched by food." says AFI Partner Eric de Valpine. "It's all about getting good clean fair healthy food grown in the community on to the tables of the community. There are other areas of impact we could think about, you could find a passion for energy, for water, but you don't find small businesses necessarily in those spaces in every community [but] every community has a need, a desire, for good clean healthy food... and they almost all have some food production facilities."
"I saw small scale agriculture and food as being the economic driver in rural parts of America," says Jarred, "not every small town is going to get a Home Depot data center or a Tesla giga-factory [but] these small farms seem to be a good spot to drive the revitalization of these local economies."
#GoodFood #LocalFood #SlowFood #SlowMoney #InvestLocal #ImpInv #SocEnt #AustinTX
Starting March 1 in Austin, then again on April 13 in Fredericksburg, then throughout 2017 in Lockhart, Georgetown, La Grange, Burnet, and Rockdale, Austin Foodshed Investors will present 1/2 day seminars for local food entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial Technical Assistance Providers on understanding and accessing various kinds of capital to help businesses grow and succeed.
With support from partners Texas Center for Local Food, USDA-FSA, Capital Farm Credit, National Center for Appropriate Technology, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, and the Capital Area Council of Governments, local food company owners and managers can learn about the range of funding alternatives available, how to prepare to talk to a bank or any other investor, how to finance a business you don't intend to ever sell, and who's available to help.
Visit the Rolling Roadshow, Funding our Foodshed page for more information and registration.
2/22/17, 4:30-6:30, Hopfields on Guadalupe
Several AFI Investor Network members have requested more "in-person" events. It is fun to hang out with each other! And what better way than to hear from three local sustainable food entrepreneurs about their upcoming investment opportunities.
Please join us Wednesday, 2/22/17 at Hopfields, from 4:30 to 6:30pm to hear from three cool local food companies in the process of raising money.
This is a low-key, AFI-style event. No pitches, no projectors, just 20 minute Q&A with each entrepreneur, followed by 20 minutes of roundtable for all the entrepreneurs and all the investors, followed by dinner and drinks if you'd like to stay.
This event is only open to members of the AFI Investor Network. For information on joining AFI, please visit our Invest page.
Please RSVP via Eventbrite by clicking the image below.
Thanks, and hope to see you there!
"The city where cowboys and hippies have long come together over breakfast tacos is breeding a new kind of food pioneer," writes Beth Goulart Monson in a long-form, beautifully photo'd essay hitting all the high points of the Austin sustainable food movement: urban farming, farm-to-table, farm-to-school, food system design, hunger, climate change, and food sovereignty. And she even name checks AFI! Wow!
AFI is proud to have joined the new Texas Center for Local Food (TCLF) today, as a Founding Member.
The Texas Center for Local Food is a new non-profit headquartered in Elgin. TCLF provides technical assistance for rural & agricultural economic vitality by creating and retaining quality jobs in processing, production, distribution and marketing of Texas sustainably grown crops.
TCLF is now accepting new memberships - starting as low as $20 - from individuals, organizations, and companies dedicated to strengthening our regional food system. We really encourage you to check out this new organization, support their goals (which align very nicely with ours), and visit their website, at Texas Center for Local Food.
AFI is launching a Facebook page to help connect with Central Texas food based businesses, conscious capital investors, and any other organization or person trying to improve our food system. Please visit us!
SKINourishment is a skin care/repair company that offers 100% plant-based, food grade nutrition to heal our bodies from the outside, just as real food heals us from the inside.
After surviving a fire and losing all of her possessions, SKINourishment founder Polly Glasse turned her knowledge of alternative medicines toward developing dozens of formulations that tackle the toughest problems faced by our largest organ---the skin.
In 1996, inspired by the needs of rock climbers, she created the first solid lotion bar in the marketplace, climbOn. It is a top seller today and used by the #1 rock climber in the world, Tommy Caldwell, along with many others.
SKINourishment currently offers 4 product lines for climbers/activists, crossfitters, babies and spas.
All the products are poured by hand in Wimberley, Texas, and packaged with care into 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging. SKINourishment is distributed via retailers in 30 countries and is committed to making real products with 100% food-grade nutrition, that make a real difference for not only the people they touch but the planet as well.
Three investors from the AFI Investor Network funded the $70,500 loan, to be used for growth capital, in early July 2016.
AFI Deal Page for SKINourishment
Austin Foodshed Investors is on track to surpass internal targets for deal flow in 2016, having closed 6 deals in the first have of the year:
In all of 2015, AFI's first full year of operation, five deals were funded.
Since founding, AFI has seen 92 deals; 11 have been funded. All 11 deals are performing on both their financial obligations and impact goals.
Sweet Ritual opened in 2011 with two flavors of soft serve non-dairy ice cream, and has grown to become the go-to spot for Central Austinites looking for delicious dairy free and allergen friendly desserts. They've become a tourist destination for out-of-towners and have over 8,000 Instagram followers from all over the world. The business now includes wholesale pints and ice cream sandwiches sold at small grocers across Austin.
AFI provided $20k in simple debt financing, from several members of the AFI Investor Network, to top-off Sweet Ritual's own investment for moving to and outfitting a larger store. The new store, at 4631 Airport Blvd, is alongside other Austin favorites The Soup Peddler, The Omelettry, Kome, & Mrs. Johnson's.
Owners Amelia and Valerie believe in the triple bottom line of people, planet, and profits. They're moving towards a zero-waste model in our new space and they source our ingredients locally when possible.
Sweet Ritual Deal page
Sweet Ritual public website
Starting a food business isn't exactly a piece of cake. Beyond designing the best product offering and crafting a business plan for success, food entrepreneurs who are actually working with food (vs. food app companies, for example...) need the equipment, and the space, to experiment, to learn, to grow, and to produce their products.
The Cook's Nook will fill the void between one's own home kitchen and a shared commercial kitchen for those just starting out, provide space and resources for caterers, and food truck operators, and chefs looking to experiment somewhere away from their primary kitchen.
On May 16 The Cook's Nook and members of AFI's Investor Network signed documents to provide up to $214,000 of debt financing for construction of the Cook's Nook space at 205 Thompson Lane in east Austin. The Cook's Nook is projected to open in Fall, 2016.
The Cook's Nook Deal Page on this website.
The Cook's Nook's Website.
Visitors to any of 8 farmers markets around the Austin area, and diners at premier restaurants like Odd Duck, Jack Allen's, and Lenior are familiar with Jim, Kay, & Mike Richardson, along with Jim's cousin Bobby Fellers, who've provided organic meats, eggs, and vegetables for years. Now, with Jim's brother Tim joining the crew, they'll soon be selling organic milk, cheese, and other dairy products.
6 AFI Investors recently funded $97,000 to Richardson Farms Dairy & Creamery or Rockdale, TX, to purchase pasteurizing and cheesemaking equipment, a rain collection & storage system, and to pay-off local contractors who had helped build the new dairy building.
And, it turns out small scale artisan dairies are a "thing"... see this 4/12/16 New York Times piece "Milk Jumps Onto the Small-Batch Bandwagon".
See the Richardson Farms Dairy & Creamery Deal Page.
Article in the Austin Business Journal profiles AFI portfolio company Cat Spring Tea, AFI, UnLTD, and others in the social investment space here in Austin.
"Investors are clamoring to find startups that can not just do well but give back while they do business"
AFI is proud to support the Capital Area Foodbank, which delivers over 33 million pounds of food a year to over 45,000 hungry Central Texans through over 300 retail distribution partners like food pantries.
“In a nation that’s as prosperous as the United States …there’s just no excuse for allowing our friends and neighbors to go hungry,” said Austin Foodshed Investors Co-Founder and Partner Curt Nelson.
For the full story, click the "Read More" link below, or see it on the CAFB website's News section.
News from AFI; Links to stories on business-for-good, private-company investing, fundraising, & sustainable food.