French Venture Capitalists Scour America For The ‘Google Of Food’

By Benny Evangelista
San Francisco Chronicle.

The way French venture capitalist Vincent Prêtet sees it, there are 7 billion people who need to eat every day — but technology has yet to disrupt the world’s food industry the way it has other businesses.

So Prêtet and his team completed a nine-city North American tour in San Francisco Thursday, searching for an early-stage food and beverage tech company that could become what he called “the Google of food.”

To help with that, Prêtet’s company, 33entrepreneurs, will make a $100,000 investment in each of three national winners from a series of elevator-pitch competitions that started June 8 in New York. 33entrepreneurs is a wine, food and tourism accelerator based in France’s wine capital of Bordeaux. Prêtet’s team has been crossing the country by private bus.

“The food industries are super traditional,” Prêtet said. “They haven’t been transformed by technology and digital yet.
“Think of the impact Google has had on ads; think of the impact Airbnb has on hotels.”

The 27 finalists selected from the nine competitions all have a chance for more exposure during two big international food and travel industry conventions this year, Bon Appétech in San Francisco and Phocuswright in Florida.

The funding and exposure was potentially huge for a startup like Chef Koochooloo, a Mountain View company developing a tech platform to educate children about cooking and eating healthier.

“Our main focus is to excite kids to try new foods, because American kids only eat hot dogs, chicken nuggets or pizza,” company founder Layla Sabourian-Tarwe said during her 10-minute elevator pitch.

Afterward, she said that companies mixing food and tech is a rising trend, but she has found it harder to interest Silicon Valley investors than if she ran a business-oriented software-as-a service company.

“In Silicon Valley, most of the investors have an interest in the next billion-dollar technology,” Sabourian-Tarwe said. “They aren’t really interested in helping kids eat better.”

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