NEWPORT BEACH, CALIF. — Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. has selected the inaugural class for its accelerator program, the Chipotle Aluminaries Project. Announced in August 2018 as part of the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation, the program was launched to help scale food-focused start-up ventures in the areas of alternative farming, food waste and recovery, and plant and alternative products.
In March, the eight ventures will participate in a five-day boot camp in Newport Beach, where they will create their plans for scale and receive coaching from industry leaders, including chef Richard Blais and entrepreneur Kimbal Musk. Also weighing in on the entrepreneurs’ plans will be a slew of Chipotle executives, including Curt Garner, chief digital and information officer; Caitlin Leibert, director of sustainability; Laurie Schalow, chief communications officer; and Tressie Lieberman, vice-president of digital marketing and off-premise.
“At Chipotle, we feel we have a responsibility and opportunity to forge a path to a more sustainable food future,” Ms. Leibert said. “Changing the food landscape is bigger than just Chipotle and the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation, and while we are proud of our efforts, we can’t do it alone. Together, with these ventures and the entrepreneurs of tomorrow, we know we can make a real impact.”
The ventures will have regular, one-on-one meetings with their mentors and three to four advisers committed to a minimum of six months of mentorship. They will receive investor readiness training and be introduced to relevant investors as well as a Chipotle card with free burritos for a year and Chipotle catering for their offices.
“Since our founding, Chipotle has been committed to cultivating a better world, and we believe the best way to lead the future of food is to inspire others to come along with us on the journey and be a force for good in our industry,” said Brian Niccol, chief executive officer of Chipotle. “The eight selected companies represent the best and brightest of what’s next in the food industry, and we can’t wait to help them reach their full potential with the launch of the Chipotle Aluminaries Project.”
The eight ventures selected for the Chipotle Aluminaries Project’s first class are:
Agvoice, a mobile voice-interaction service designed for food and agriculture professionals to capture insights on the go. The service integrates with existing record-keeping apps and enables tracking of plant and animal production at the source to help assess positive environmental and sustainability impact.
American Ostrich Farms, a vertically integrated producer of ostrich meat committed to sustainability. Pound for pound, ostriches produce more red meat per acre than other livestock, require a third of the fresh water and contribute a fraction of the greenhouse gases as cattle, the company said. American Ostrich Farms offers ostrich burgers, steak filets and ground meat as well as pet foods, oils and soaps.
Asarasi, a producer of sustainable and renewable water harvested from the byproducts of maple trees. Asarasi sparkling tree water is an environmentally friendly, organic plant-based alternative to bottled water sourcing. Available in original, lemon, lime and cherry varieties, the water comes in 100% recyclable packaging.
GrubTubs, a service that collects food from restaurants before it turns into waste and uses it to help local farmers turn it into sustainable animal feed. Its product allows restaurants, hotels and large cafeterias to drastically reduce what they send to landfills. Once collected, farmers feed the food waste to insect grubs, which then become nutrient-rich animal feed, helping farmers lower food costs.
ImpactVision, which uses hyperspectral imaging to help food businesses deliver consistent product quality, generate premium products and prevent supply chain waste. The company’s system collects images of food from a camera mounted above a conveyor belt to gather non-invasive food quality information, including freshness, shelf life and contamination at production-grade speeds.
Novolyze, a food safety company that offers solutions to help the food industry manufacture safer food while ensuring compliance with international food safety and quality standards. Its approach to food safety relies on using cutting-edge microbiology solutions combined with the latest development in digital, internet of things and machine learning.
Rex Animal Health, a provider of machine learning for a safer and more sustainable food supply. Using data to improve livestock health, the company offers software solutions for disease tracking and forecasting, antimicrobial resistance surveillance, and drug efficacy and outcomes as well as clinical decision support and breeding and performance support.
Sophie’s Kitchen, a maker of sustainable plant-based seafood alternatives such as vegan smoked salmon bacon, crab cakes, fish fillets, coconut shrimp and scallops. All Sophie’s Kitchen products are gluten-free, soy-free, kosher and Non-GMO Project verified.