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Food Foundry is a Chicago-based accelerator program by Relish Works designed to support, connect, and propel innovative startups who are rethinking the food industry. Built in partnership with Gordon Food Service, our program offers access to national foodservice business resources, distribution and supply chain resources, advanced curriculum, mentors, and more.

Relish Works is an innovation hub focused on challenging the status quo and pioneering the next evolution of the food industry. Relish Works was developed to generate innovative solutions to the most pressing food industry problems by creating partnerships, designing new solutions, or investing in and supporting others. Located in the Merchandise Mart in downtown Chicago, Relish Works operates within a thriving ecosystem of startups, companies, universities, and other incubators.

In 1897, Isaac Van Westenbrugge started a butter-and-egg delivery service using a horse-drawn cart. Now, 120 years later, Gordon Food Service has grown to become the largest privately held and family-managed foodservice distributor in North America. Gordon Food Service distributes to foodservice operators in the Midwest, Northeast, Southeast, and Southwest regions of the United States and coast-to-coast in Canada. The company also operates more than 175 Gordon Food Service Store locations in the U.S., which are open to the public and provide restaurant-quality products and friendly, knowledgeable service without a membership fee.

As a participant in the Food Foundry program, you will receive: • $75K in venture capital funding • 4 Weeks of programming over the course of 4 months dedicated to workshops and mentorship connections customized to help startups reach their goals. • 1:1 Mentorship with our venture capital team to help you set and reach your milestones. • Connection to Relish Works and Gordon Food Service partner companies for additional distribution channels • Participation and opportunities within our Alumni network

Food Foundry is the only program that combines the resources of a national foodservice distributor (e.g., industry expertise and mentors, access to customers, access to real-world test environments) and deep professional expertise in human-centered design and concept testing (e.g., professional expertise at Relish Works, Inc.).

Programming is a mix of group-based learning curriculum, mentor-guided growth, and workshops facilitated by industry experts. Our 16-week program includes four immersive programming weeks in Chicago (one week per month for four months), with a final showcase at the end of the program.

No, startups do not need to relocate to Chicago, but should be prepared to be present in Chicago during programming (one week per month for four months, in addition to a final Showcase at the end of programming). Startups will have access to the Relish Works space in Chicago during programming. In specific cases, remote participation will be considered, but startup participants will be required to travel for a minimum of one week per month during the program.

Food Foundry makes investments in each individual startup who becomes part of our cohort in the form of a $75K post-money SAFE note. In exchange we take approximately 3% equity in each participating startup.

Each startup will have access to a network of mentors that includes successful entrepreneurs, subject area experts, and foodservice industry professionals. This includes Gordon Food Service industry leaders, Food Foundry mentor networks, and Relish Works networks. Throughout the program, each startup will be able to work closely with Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIR’s) responsible for guiding progress.

We are looking for startups disrupting the food industry. Stage: We are looking for startups pre-seed to seed. Applicants with only ideas are not eligible, and our program is not designed to support startups who are Series A and beyond.

Yes. We accept all North American based startups and will consider applicants from around the world, even if they have already incorporated in their home countries.

Applications for Food Foundry's 2023 cohort will close on October 23rd, 2022 at midnight (Central Time). Below is a general outline of the selection process with associated timelines. • Notification: Startups will be notified if they have made it to the first round of interviews during the week of November 7th, 2022. • First-Round Interviews: Virtually during the week of November 14th, 2022. • Second and Third-Round Interviews: Virtually between December 1st and December 9th, 2022. • Cohort Announcement: Final cohort will be announced in January 2023. Please note that all startup interviews will take place virtually and timelines may shift.

If you have questions that aren't answered on our website or this FAQ, please email us directly,

Applications for our fifth cohort will be open from September 12th - October 23rd, 2022. Applications will be housed on the F6S website. Follow up on social media and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.

We remain open and flexible to working with companies across the food and foodservice industry. In 2023 our scope will broaden to include ANY startup disrupting the food and foodservice industry. Applications for our fifth cohort will be open September 12th - October 23rd on F6S.

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