The Foodie-Effect Has Taken Over South Florida’s Entrepreneurs, And How They Are Cashing In

Date: 12th February, 2015

South Florida is betting on its diverse culinary scene and growing tech community to get in on a burgeoning tech-and-food industry. In South Florida, the tech-and-food business is in its early stages, but we are seeing more successful launches and growth of startups in this particular industry. Just last week, Endeavor Miami announced DeliverLean, and Ginnybakes to their portfolio of selected Endeavor Entrepreneurs.

Even the Pubbelly Boys announced a new media company, Pubbelly Media Group, a one-stop production company for food entrepreneurs.

So “Foodpreneurs” gathered this week to discuss strategies of how to foster this specific industry locally at the Emerging Technology Business Showcase event. The discussion was led by president and CEO of the Enterprise Development Corporation Rob Strandberg, and it featured six culinary entrepreneurs.

“I think we are in a really unique time and place right now for food and beverages, especially local food, in South Florida,” said Irene Revelas, editor of the food magazine Edible Palm Beach. “We’re not behind — we’re just starting. … I think what’s exciting is that we have the opportunity to create something really new at the intersection of fresh, local food, artisanal and small batch food products, and technology.”

Investment in the tech-and-food industry has flourished in recent years, growing from $10 million a quarter in 2010 to over $200 million in the first quarter alone in 2014, according to CB Insights, a Venture Capital Database that charts such growth.

This can be attributed to the demand for healthier eating habits and our busy lifestyle. It is no coincidence that entrepreneurs venture into this business is not only focused on healthier alternatives but also adaptable to their customer’s demanding schedule.

Marc Elkman is a former body-builder who has also seen an opportunity to bring people healthy food while maintaining the convenience fast food offers. He founded Fresh Meal Plan, a Boca-Raton based company that prepares and delivers health-conscious meals cooked by the company’s resident chefs, including paleo, gluten-free and vegetarian options. Elkman realized that there was a tremendous opportunity in South Florida to make what used to be viewed as “diet food” delicious.

The biggest way technology factors into his referral-driven business, he said, is through the power of social media. “People eat with their eyes,” he said. “We use social media and all of the brand advocates and fitness advocates gives us hundreds of thousands of eyes on our product.”

Cesar Quintero, founder and COO of Fit2Go, has been a pioneer in the fresh meal delivery space for more than nine years. Quintero started his business by focusing on busy professionals who desired healthy choices delivered to their office. Now, all of his clients place and customize their orders online.

“Seventy-five percent of customers want to be able to order their food from a restaurant online,” Quintero said.

While McDonald’s earnings recently dropped 30 percent, high-profile Silicon Valley investors have been pouring money into companies such as
GrubHub, which reached a $1.9 billion dollar valuation earlier this year.

So will the next Chipotle come out of South Florida?

Entrepreneur Roger Duarte is working on it! He is the co-founder of the growing My Ceviche (and Endeavor Entrepreneur) and sees his expansion possibilities as limitless. “We’re taking a proven method and injecting innovation into it. Our goal is to reach $100 million in revenue, so we’re strategizing to take the correct steps to get there,” he said.

This discussion was sponsored by the non-profit Enterprise Development Corporation at Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus in downtown Miami. The event also included a VC bootcamp and eight South Florida startups presented their companies: Blackdove, Foodoozle,Fresh Meal Plan, Hair Construction, Haku Sports, itopia, KottonZoo and netFundz.