Farther Farms, a sustainable food processing company founded by Mike Annunziata (ILR ‘11, MBA ‘17) and Vipul Saran (Master of Food Science ‘17), has received a $25,000 investment from Launch New York (Launch NY), a venture development organization promoting economic growth in the 27 counties comprising the western half of Upstate New York.
Launch NY, a non-profit founded in 2012, provides seed capital to investment-ready companies which have the promise to create economic impact and jobs in New York State.
Launch NY’s announcement cited Farther Farms’ potential to “transform food processing with an innovative technology developed in Cornell’s Food Science department.” Farther Farms, a ‘16-‘17 alum of Cornell’s eLab student startup accelerator and now a member of local business incubator Rev: Ithaca Startup Works, uses a patented food processing technology to extend produce shelf life. This allows fresh foods to be available for months without using preservatives, freezing, or genetic modification.
“We’re seeking to make a big change in a highly competitive industry, and the local and regional support we’ve received thus far has been nothing short of extraordinary,” said Annunziata, Farther Farms’ Chief Executive Officer. “The backing of Launch NY is an incredible vote of confidence in what we’re building, and we couldn’t be more humbled by it.”
Farther Farms was founded in the fall of 2016 as Natural Cuts, when now-Chief Product Officer Saran joined with Annunziata to commercialize a technology he had developed in the Cornell Food Science lab. The firm’s initial business produced fresh-cut French fries that could stay in stable condition on the shelf for up to 60 days. On the strength of that original potato product, Annunziata and Saran won the Pillsbury Institute’s Cornell Hospitality Business Plan Competition in March, and placed first in the advanced technology track of the New York State Business Plan Competition. The company rebranded as Farther Farms in September, and is currently established as a full member company at Rev: Ithaca Startup Works.
Rev’s entrepreneurship mentors worked with the Farther Farms team in recent months to help develop a fundraising strategy and review Launch NY submission paperwork, said Brad Treat, Entrepreneur in Residence at Rev and the Southern Tier Startup Alliance. In addition, Rev endorsed the company’s application directly to Launch NY’s leadership, advised on details of the deep due diligence process, and provided guidance for the company’s formal presentation to the Launch NY review committee.
According to Treat, Farther Farms’ success in withstanding the Launch NY due diligence process is a great marker to the wider investment community about the firm’s long-term potential.
“The rigor of the process has helped these companies not only to prepare for an investment from the Launch NY Seed Fund, but it also signals to other investors that these companies are investment-ready,” he said.
“Working with our mentors and supporters at Rev has given us the professional guidance needed to push forward in this challenging endeavor,” added Annunziata.
Farther Farms is currently working to expand its product offerings to include avocados, sugar-snap peas, carrots, and more. By increasing access to fruits and vegetables, Farther Farms hopes to address the challenges of food waste and malnutrition, while reducing costs throughout the food system in processing, distribution, and retail.