St. John’s-based Milk Moovement has been accepted into the Food-X program in New York City, having also joined the Thrive accelerator in Silicon Valley, meaning it is simultaneously going through two American accelerators.
Both these food-related programs offer investment to their participants, so Milk Moovement now has raised about $300,000 in a seed round it hopes will reach $750,000. The company received US$100,000 on joining Thrive, and US$125,000 on joining Food-X.
Milk Moovement has developed technology that helps everyone in the milk supply chain track and assess raw milk. Its cloud-based reporting system provides farmers, dairy boards, cooperatives and others with real-time reports about the quality and volume of milk production.
“We’re able to run the programs simultaneously,” said CEO Robert Forsythe in an interview on Monday. “It’s good because in California, the program is focused on the farmers and the producers. The New York program is more focused on the processor side of the business. Processors are another huge group in the supply chain.”
Forsythe and serial entrepreneur Jon King co-founded the company two years ago to digitize the reporting of milk deliveries for dairy boards in Canada. Their original strategy was to work with dairy boards in Canada, believing their app was best-suited to the structure of the Canadian industry.
In Canada, they have signed agreements with the dairy boards in Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island and are in advanced talks with those of three other provinces.
However, after researching the U.S. industry, they came to realize that the co-operatives that dominate the American industry face the same challenges as the Canadian dairy boards. In fact, the Dairy Federation of America, which represents 13,000 dairy farms, said its 2019 survey showed that getting milk to market remains one of its members’ top three concerns.
So Forsythe and King have decided to attack the U.S. market with gusto, and the two accelerators are helping them get in front of the people they need to court to grow in the U.S.
Forsythe is taking the lead with Food-X, which is operated by the venture capital firm SOSV, which has US$700 million under management. King is focusing on Thrive, which is run by the West Coast agri-food VC firm SVG Ventures-Thrive.
Given the current state of affairs, all the programing is virtual so Forsythe said it’s a good time to be attending two different programs on opposite sides of the continent.
“They are really focusing on helping us go global, on proper messaging and on looking at our gaps in the organization,” he said. “They see that we can be a global company and they’re helping us fill in the gaps to get there.”
Forsythe said the company is doing well despite the current crisis, and will soon hire its seventh employee. The dairy market is strong, and its short supply lines and loyal customer base make it a good business to be in at this time.
“Dairy is a very constant industry,” said Forsythe. “It’s local and the supply chain is dependable . . . People are still producing milk and milk is getting to market.”