FaB Wisconsin selects 10 companies for new accelerator program


FaB Wisconsin has announced the 10 companies selected to participate in its new food finance and business accelerator program called FaBcap. The program is designed to grow the capacity and capitalization of food and beverage companies.

FaB Wisconsin has announced the 10 companies selected to participate in its new food finance and business accelerator program called FaBcap.

The 10 companies, referred to as “Cappers,” are said to highlight the industry innovation and entrepreneurial stamina required to meet growing demands for food and beverages that are cleaner, fresher, safer and better.

The FaBcap Class of 2015 is:
1. City Lights Brewery: Formerly 4 Brothers Blended Beer Co., a Milwaukee-based brewer of blended craft beers. (Started in 2012.)
2. Clock Shadow Creamery: Milwaukee-based maker of locally-focused fresh specialty cheeses. (Started in 2013.)
3. East Shore Specialty Foods: Hartland-based maker of gourmet mustards, sauces and pretzels. (Started in 1986.)
4. LaPavia Beverage Inc.: Milwaukee-based maker of premium tonic concentrated drink mixers under the brand Top Note Tonics. (Started in 2014.)
5. MobCraft Beer LLC: Madison-based brewer of crowdsourced craft beer. (Started in 2012.)
6. Nikki’s Cookies: Milwaukee-based maker of all-natural cookies. (Started in 1985.)
7. Noble View Cheese Company Inc.: Adell-based maker of artisan cheese. (Started in 2013.)
8. Quigistics LLC: Middleton-based technology firm offering an enterprise resource planning system for small to medium food and beverage makers to integrate procedures and documentation required by the new Food Safety Modernization Act. (Started in 2014.)
9. Reallygoods: Jackson-based maker of organic raw fruits, nuts, seeds and green snacks under the brand Gorilly Goods. (Started in 2012.)
10. Valentine Coffee: Milwaukee-based roaster of specialty coffees. (Started in 2009.)

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Over the course of the accelerator program, the Cappers’ business models, funding, operations and market strategies will be explored to determine new pathways to sustainable capitalization and growth. Additionally, Cappers will have facilitated access to industry and technical experts, and will each earn a $10,000 cash award at the year-end closing ceremony.

FaB, a statewide cluster consortium supporting food and beverage industry growth and awareness, began accepting applications on Aug. 7. Selection criteria targeted Wisconsin-based companies with five to 200 employees in the area of food, beverage, ingredients, equipment or packaging manufacturing or technologies.

“Funding and operating a growing food or beverage company is more difficult than people think, in particular at a time when consumer demands and food safety and regulations are transforming the industry,” said Shelley Jurewicz, executive director of FaB Wisconsin. “The 10 companies we’ve selected understand this and feel it, and they’re taking advantage of new and evolving market opportunities.”

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“We feel these companies are ripe for growth,” added Brad Rostowfske, FaB’s director of innovation and finance, who will serve as the personal financial and business coach to the Cappers. “Given an opportunity to look at what you’re doing, and how you’re doing, with an outside-in perspective can be exactly what it takes to position your company for the next level.”

The FaBcap program will kick off with an industry conference at Miller Park, from Oct. 13-14. Industry leaders, entrepreneurs and chief financial officers, as well as research and development, innovation and financial professionals are all encouraged to attend. The conference is expected to attract 125 professionals.

At the FaBcap Kick-Off Conference attendees will learn about the industry’s latest trends from Grant Ferrier, chief executive officer and principal of San Diego-based Nutrition Capital Network, and about the food business models and funding options that work from Tera Johnson, director of the Food Finance Institute at UW-Extension, and Rostowfske.

Also speaking at the conference are: Giacomo Fallucca, president/CEO of Palermo’s Pizza; Jeff Hamilton, president of Sprecher Brewing; Jenny Marino, president/CEO of Angelic Bakehouse; Russ Klisch, president of Lakefront Brewery; Adian Reif, chief goodness officer, of Yumbutter; and Benjamin Harrison, vice president of sales of Rishi Tea, along with many representatives from the funding and financial community.

FaB Wisconsin’s FaBcap program is being offered in collaboration with the UW-Extension Food Finance Institute, and with partnership support by Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation in a $115,000 seed accelerator grant and JPMorgan Chase Foundation in a $50,000 grant award. Also giving as FaBcap program sponsors are: Chortek LLP; Bank of America Merrill Lynch; Meijer Inc.; and Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c. FaBcap Kick-Off Conference sponsors are Palermo’s Pizza, Sprecher Brewing and Wells Fargo.

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