As part of a $300,000 USDA grant secured in 2020, Startup Tucson has just completed the second round of its 10-week Recipes for Success Food Accelerator designed to help local entrepreneurs and agricultural producers develop new food products and grow their businesses.
The program will soon graduate the second cohort of 12 companies, with two companies winning cash prizes to support their growth. The Food Forward Showcase will not only be a graduation, but a celebration of the economic potential of Tucson’s food ecosystem to drive economic growth, with keynote speaker Felipe Garcia, president and CEO of Visit Tucson.
Hosted at University of Arizona’s FORGE at Roy Place, the event will also feature catered heritage food from Flora’s, local Arizona wines from Sand-Reckoner Vineyards and beers from Ten55 Brewing Co. The guest list includes local chefs, buyers from major grocery stores and markets, as well as food influencers and food bloggers.
“We believe that Tucson is uniquely positioned to harbor a rich, diverse, and financially viable local food ecosystem,” said Startup Tucson CEO Liz Pocock. “Due to Tucson’s status as a City of Gastronomy and its network of local food entrepreneurs eager to help those in our community, our vibrant local food system is growing and stimulating tourism, investment, and preservation of our unique heritage. Startup Tucson’s food accelerator program, Recipes for Success, is designed to give local entrepreneurs the tools to put their food businesses on the fast track to success.”
The 10-week program covered topics ranging from local and national distribution, food safety and labeling to marketing, branding and partnerships and featured guest speakers from some of Tucson’s most notable food companies including Tucson Tamale, Monsoon Chocolate, and Barrio Bread. At the showcase, companies in the program will all have a chance to demonstrate their products while secret judges will vote on the business model and select a winner. Attendees will also have the opportunity to vote on a People’s Choice Award.
The first cohort of the food accelerator includes the following companies:
5th Dimension Foods
We create products for people who want to feel and perform better – those that aim to thrive, not survive. The first product we offer is a healthy decadent chocolate-dipped superfood meal bar without sugar, grains, or common food allergens, for active people on the go. We aim to change the way you think about energy bars. Enjoy after your workout or with your morning cup of coffee. We will also be sampling un-cheesecakes as a healthy dessert alternative.
Imago Dei’s THREAD Provisions gives at-risk youth the opportunity to learn about creating a small food startup, learning how to grow and prepare food and all the skills needed to take it to market. They currently offer Sonoran Salve, Chorizo Spice Mix and Mesquite Flour or Sonoran White Wheat Flour Cookie Mix jars.
Arev specializes in veganizing traditional recipes from Armenia, Russia, and other cultures. Our ready-to-eat yummy meals are perfect for both busy families and professionals. For a guilt-free, no-hassle dinner that the whole family will love, try our signature dish – colorful & tasty vegan dumplings.
Better Than Provisions
Better Than Provisions is a company dedicated to providing nutrient-packed, delicious snacks you can enjoy guilt-free, no matter your dietary lifestyle. We produce three fun and unique flavors of a 5 Nut Grain-Free Granola that’s gluten free, low carb, keto friendly, vegan friendly, and has no added sugar.
We make bottled teas for people who are looking for a caffeine alternative that leaves them cheerful and motivated, but not jittery. What we do differently is use Kratom, a powerful herb that is related to the coffee plant, but has a very different chemical profile. Our society is over-caffeinated, productive but anxious, and often lacks time to rejuvenate and reflect on our careers and lives. Our teas allow consumers to take a step back and enjoy a break from the rat race.
Desert Girls Boards, Boxes, & More
We curate unique, one-of-a kind edible tablescapes using premiums cheese, charcuterie, fruits, veggies and more for all occasions.
Dondi’s Sweet Treats
Dondi’s Sweet Treats is a premium non-dairy ice cream company that replicates the true sensory experience of real ice cream without dairy. We create a luxurious dessert experience for people who want or need to avoid dairy. We use multiple bases to heighten the flavor profiles.
Epic Foods Company
We make high-quality, gourmet condiments offering the customer a unique food experience. Our signature Spicy Table Peppers are perfect for foodies seeking to liven up a mundane meal.
At FoxCrow Farms, we grow and produce sustainable, local, and native foods, such as our Fresh-Roasted-Sugar Pumpkin Pie mix. It’s slow-roasted and naturally sweet, next level for your tastebuds, and infinitely gift-able. We offer a sweet treat with a fresh take on an old favorite.
We make handmade, small batch paletas using fresh fruit and all natural ingredients inspired by the culture and flavors of Tucson, the Sonoran Desert and Mexico.
We make delicious cactus drinks that provide convenient fiber without added sugar. It’s a product for anyone looking to lead a healthy lifestyle. We chose prickly pear cactus because it’s local, sustainable, and healthy; it has lots of fiber, low in carbs, and can help manage blood sugar. We want to make cactus the new kale.
Sugar Rush is a small business offering unique cupcakes in a range of fresh modern flavors using heritage ingredients. We sell at farmers markets, special events, and online. We are a community-oriented company and believe in the magic a cupcake can bring to any experience.
We provide freshly homemade plant-based protein shakes to support your health goals, even on the go. These nutritious and delicious shakes can be used as meal replacements for weight loss, muscle building, or just to get your essential nutrients throughout the day. We take pride in our clean ingredients: 0 cholesterol, 0 preservatives, natural, plant-based, dairy free, and soy free to assure our customer satisfaction.
For current or aspiring food entrepreneurs looking to get involved, a third cohort of the free accelerator program will launch in Fall of 2022. Startup Tucson is also offering free eCommerce websites to food companies as part of the program, with applications being accepted on a rolling basis at https://www.startuptucson.com/recipes-for-success. The Spanish language and rural extension accelerators are also set for Fall of 2022.