Fail Friday (On a Thursday): Food Startups Share Lessons Learned

Food+Tech Meetup
Food+Tech Meetup
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It's not easy being a food innovator. There's no road map for reinventing an industry. So, in partnership with Force Brands: FoodForce | BevForce (, we cooked up the Fail Friday series to celebrate failure in all its glory.

At our seventh installment of Fail Friday (on a Thursday), we'll hear from Green Seed Group, Heritage Radio, BRAMI, Be Mixed and Metcalfe's Food Company. Startups will share their stories of failure and lessons learned from growing their businesses, followed by audience Q&A.

There will be holiday-themed snacks from Matt's Kimchi (, Brooklyn FoodWorks (, Auria's Malaysian Kitchen (, Wangs (, Spice Trail Snacks (, Silly Chilly Hot Sauce (, Homebakee ( and Raaka Chocolate (, and festive drinks from Be Mixed (, REBBL ( and Verday Chlorophyll Water (, plus lots of networking.


7:00 - 7:45: Networking, Snacks & Drinks

7:45 - 8:45: Failure Stories & Q&A

8:45 - 9:30: More Networking


David Wilson - Founder & Owner, Green Seed Group ( - David has nearly 30 years international marketing experience with global brands. He is a dynamic, board level, food industry, marketing leader with deep and extensive executive experience in marketing, general management and sales roles.

David has specialized with high-growth, private equity owned branded food companies targeting natural, health-oriented consumers. He currently holds three board seats with high growth food companies and also found and leads consulting business Green Seed Group. Green Seed provides seed capital and is a sales and marketing incubator for food start-ups. One company recently exited in a $800m plus deal, to an international strategic acquirer and another planning to exit for $400m plus in the near future.

Erin Fairbanks - Executive Director, Heritage Radio Network ( - In 2005, Erin left the Midwest and her post at Zingerman’s Deli to try her hand at being a line-cook in New York City. She walked into the kitchen of Savoy offering to peel carrots and didn’t leave for two years. Next, she spent time at Gramercy Tavern, initiating their in-house charcuterie program. Then following her passion for pigs she moved north where she spent a year at Flying Pigs Farm, where she directed “Farm Camp at Flying Pigs Farm”. In 2011, she launched “No Goat Left Behind,” a national project of Heritage Foods USA. After completing her graduate degree in Urban Policy Analysis at The New School for Public Engagement she joined the HeritageRadioNetwork.Org team as Executive Director in the Spring of 2012.

Aaron Gatti - Founder, BRAMI ( - From Bitcoin to Beans; after working as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Lerer Hippeau Ventures with a focus on Bitcoin blockchain startups, Aaron Gatti pivoted to the food space, founding BRAMI Snacks. The son of an Italian from Rome, Aaron grew up surrounded by the simple, quality-ingredient focused cuisine of Italy as a kid and had a stint as a sous chef at a Michelin star restaurant.

In 2014, Aaron introduced his now wife Alenna to a childhood favorite snack, lupini beans, and together they realized the potential for reinventing this ancient Mediterranean legume. BRAMI started selling in NYC in January of 2016 and is now in 5 regions of Whole Foods, ShopRite and Independents across the country.

Cristina Ros Blankfein & Jennifer Ross - Co-Founders, Be Mixed ( - An innovative, natural line of zero-calorie and zero-sugar cocktail mixers. Blankfein and Ross, who is Type 1 diabetic, met at Harvard Business School.

Blankfein is a graduate of Harvard University where she received her Bachelor of Arts as well as her JD/MBA. While still an undergrad, Ros Blankfein founded Circle of Women, a student-run 501c3 that has raised over $600,000 to build secondary schools for girls in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Malawi. After college, Blankfein spent three years at Citi’s Microfinance Group, where she helped develop cross-company products and programs that she marketed as part of the bank's social platform, including savings programs for entrepreneurs.

Prior to Ross receiving her Master of Business Administration, Ross worked on marketing and operations at Fanvision, a sports entertainment technology company, and previously served as an Analyst at Goldman Sachs in the Merchant Bank’s real estate private equity group. Ross has long been an advocate for the advancement of diabetes research and a supporter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). She was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 6, and while still in high school, founded and organized Rock the Cure, a concert to benefit JDRF, which raised over $200,000. Ross also serves as the secretary of Safefittings, a not-for-profit organization serving the parents of children with diabetes (since 2006). Ross holds a B.A. in Government from Dartmouth College.

Nick Devane - CEO, Foodworks ( - Foodworks helps food businesses start and grow through a holistic offering of software, commissary space, mentorship and resources. Nick is also a mentor at Techstars NYC, Square Roots and Makers Point.

Nick attended Wesleyan University where he focused on Architecture and American Studies. A lifelong entrepreneur and hospitality industry veteran, Nick started working in restaurants in high school, before bartending in college. Nick previously owned a failed cafe, Zulu's, as well as tech companies, including: Grazer, Parlae, Three, and Homemade. Nick also worked at Grey Lady, opened Normans Cay, did production at PRODJECT, and washed dishes at El Rey, in addition to house painting and freelance design work.