Austin Foodshed Investors provided funding of $75,000 on Friday, 1/21/16, to Cat Spring Tea.
Cat Spring Tea harvests yaupon, the only native source of caffeine in North America. Led and owned by sisters Abianne Falla and Jenna Dee Detro, the company identified an opportunity to create a business from what some ranchers consider a weed.
Cat Spring Tea is committed to sustainable agriculture and second chance employment. They epitomize the values AFI seeks to support, including:
AFI assisted the win of a $250,000 USDA grant in 2015. AFI coordinated six individual lender/investors to fund this $75,000 loan for expenses approved as reimbursable by the grant. For an overview of the deal, and AFI's other Portfolio companies, please see the Deals section of our website.
Cat Spring has been all over the news. Here are a couple of the best:
We're proud to have just joined AIBA: the Austin Independent Business Alliance.
AIBA's main goals are to educate the public about the cultural and economic benefits of buying locally, tod to promote AIBA members to the public, and to advocate to government on behalf of our members about issues of concern to local business.
Austin Foodshed Investors closed its first deal of 2016 on Friday, 1/22/16, presenting a check for $11,000 to Jordan & Esther Bednar of Tandem Farm Company, Driftwood, Texas.
Tandem grows chickens, hogs, and lamb with the lives they were meant to have, giving them the freedom to be themselves – eating what comes naturally to them and behaving in ways natural to them.
Jordan and Esther are committed to sustainable farming and humane animal husbandry. They epitomize the values AFI seeks to support, including:
AFI coordinated the loan, combining six individual lender/investors. For an overview of the deal, and AFI's other Portfolio companies, please see the Deals section of our website.
Austin Foodshed Investors announced today that it has become a Slow Food USA Small Business Supporter for 2016.
Slow Food USA is part of the global Slow Food network of over 100,000 members in more than 150 countries. Through 175 local chapters, including the vibrant and fun Slow Food Austin local chapter, Slow Food's grassroots mission is good, clean and fair food for all.
The Small Business Supporter program recognizes businesses choosing alternative paths for commerce that respect and invest in the wellbeing of our shared communities and resources are changing the future of food and farming.
In Summer 2015 AFI was proud to sponsor Slow Food Austin's annual Grub Trivia event, and our team took an amazing third place in the contest of wits with Austin's most knowledgable sustainable food aficionados. We're looking forward to the 2016 Event!
2015 was AFI's formative year. Of course, we learned a lot. But six things really stuck out:
1. Only 1% of Austin’s Food is Local
The City of Austin staffed their Office of Sustainability with a really great guy, Edwin Marty, in 2015, who produced the excellent “State of the Food System Report” of April 2015. Of many telling statistics and stories, the one that hit hardest is the absurdly low percentage of food consumed in the Austin area that is actually produced around here. 1%. One stinking percent? Hard to believe such a food-inspired town imports 99% of what it eats from somewhere else. Collaborating to improving this statistic is one of our top priorities.
4. There's Lotsa Noise About Impact Investing, But How to Actually Do It?
Our Twitter and RSS feeds are full of stories in the popular (and niche) press about Impact Investing… how great it is, how big it is, how fast it is growing. But how, specifically, can the average investor actually find and transact deals? How should one construct a portfolio of impact investments? What financial advisors specialize in this? In 2016 we’ll work with partners to help our investors understand the nuts and bolts of where to look, how to engage, how to put money to work.
When we started thinking about an AFI-like venture in mid-2014 we wanted it to be a different - and hopefully better - experience for both companies raising money and for individual investors looking to place capital. After over a year in actual practice, we've doubled down on some of those tactics, and discovered a few new ones...
Click the "Read More" link just a little lower and to the right for the verbose version of each of those bullets, and a couple more...
UnLtd USA exists to identify outstanding individuals, equip them with the necessary capital, resources and mentorship to scale their impact, and to embed them at the center of their city's most powerful network of individuals committed to accelerating their mission.
AFI's Curt Nelson was honored to be asked to join UnLtd USA's mentoring network, where he is looking forward to assisting those outstanding individuals accomplish their dreams and improve the world!
59 Deals Reviewed, 5 Done, 12 Still in Process
2015 was Austin Foodshed Investors' first year. Looking back, we believe it was a very promising start.
Founders Jarred Maxwell and Curt Nelson evolved the concept for AFI in the spring and summer of 2014, building on Jarred's experience with Slow Money Austin and the Sustainable Texas Investment Club, and Curt's background in technology entrepreneurship and real estate investing. In Spring 2015, Eric de Valpine started work with AFI then joined formally as Partner and CFO in October.
AFI connects values-based impact investors with local sustainable food entreprenuers needing capital to grow Central Texas’ supply of good, clean, fair food, living wage jobs, and quality investment opportunities. Our mission is to support triple-bottom-line (planet, people, profits) social entrepreneurs needing capital to change the world, heal the soil, and create good, clean, fair products and living wage jobs and, in the process, to uncover quality local investment opportunities with market returns.
In general, AFI subscribes to the values and principles of both the Slow Food and Slow Money movements and is a friend/collaborator/financial sponsor of both Slow Food Austin and Slow Money Austin.
In 2015, we saw 59 deals, did 5, 12 are still in process, 6 have asked to be on hold, 2 got funded on their own, and 34 are out.
We think of the deals we did in three categories: ones we “Led”, ones we “Participated In” but are led by another organization, and ones we “Facilitated”, which means we helped a company get money from somewhere, but not from us. These “led”, “participated”, and “facilitated” groupings are important because unlike a typical company, our goal is not to “sell more of our stuff”, but rather to help the companies and the overall food system. So, if we can figure a way for a client company to get money that is not from us, and cheaper (where grant money is the best of all), that’s great and we’ll call that a win.
In 2015, we led Bola Frozen Pizza; participated In Hops & Grains & Bona Dea Gluten Free; and facilitated a USDA grant to Cat Spring Tea and a bank line of credit for Salt & Time's expansion.
Of the deals that went “out”, 11 we didn’t like, 7 didn’t apply, 6 didn’t qualify, 5 quit the process, 2 made it through the process but there was no investor interest, 2 went out of business, and 1 we couldn’t agree to terms.
We grew to 24 individual accredited investors, have 13 informal syndicate partners (organizations that invest), and build relationships with 65 partner organizations in the food, finance, and social good space.
Throughout 2015 we operated in "stealth mode", establishing the philosophical underpinnings, mission, vision, and first year objectives; building the infrastructure; creating the brand and online/social media presence; reaching out to the Austin food, finance, and social good communities; recruiting companies, investors, and syndicate partners; completing deals; and converting lessons learned into improved processes.Building the infrastructure included regulatory compliance, deal flow processes and tools and templates, legal document templates, banking relationships, and software development to automate deal flow management, contact relationship management, and objectives, projects, & deliverables.
We initiated an Expert Network of professionals interested in mentoring firms through strategic issues and tactically advising on specifics such as financial projection creation, local sourcing, retailing, ranching, and others.
Over time, the website evolved to include an extensive blog repository and comprehensive calendar of regional and national food, finance, and social good events, as well as a listing of organizations locally and nationally serving food and social enterprises. Additionally, we build a 65+ page powerpoint pitch affectionately known as the “MegaDeck”.
2016 Sneak Peak
In 2016, our focus will be on doing more deals, and doing them better. That means growing our investor and company base, speeding up the fundraising process, and improving communication with both companies and investors.
We'll exit "stealth mode" with a press launch and social media outreach campaign. We'll run more events, starting with our "ATXFood+Finance16" weekend April 30 & May 1 at Springdale Farm and Eden East.
We'll create tools to assess and track "impact"; to provide investors with tax-advantaged ways to invest; and to curate education for social entrepreneurs and impact investors.
Spread the Word
Do you believe that good, clean, & fair food can help our climate, our agricultural and food sector, our local economy? Is it reasonable to apply the principles of conscious consuming we apply to where we shop and what we buy to where we invest and what we support? If so, please contact us, subscribe to the newsletter, and follow us on Twitter (@atxfoodinvestor).
We are actively seeing new individual accredited investors, new syndicate partners, and of course, new cool companies looking to raise some money, do something great!
News from AFI; Links to stories on business-for-good, private-company investing, fundraising, & sustainable food.