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Relish Works’ “Food Foundry” Accelerator Program for Innovative Foodservice Startups Launches Second Cohort

Relish Works, in partnership with Gordon Food Service and 1871, commences their second cohort of The Food Foundry with seven finalists who will begin an accelerator program unique to the foodservice industry.

CHICAGO (December 17th, 2019) - The Food Foundry, a Relish Works accelerator program rethinking the way food moves and launched in partnership with Gordon Food Service and 1871, has selected their second cohort comprised of seven innovative food startups.

I’m thrilled to be kicking off our second cohort and excited for each of the companies we’ll be working with,” says Nick Florek, Director of The Food Foundry. “It was extremely rewarding to have built a solid program in our first year and to see the continued success of our recently graduated companies. We learned a ton from last year and I look forward to a successful year two!”


Sociavore - a website builder and e-commerce platform for restaurants

Bikky - an omni-channel CRM for restaurants

Science Retail - subscription-based IT support for independent hospitality businesses

Tablee - an enterprise software that supercharges hospitality staff, with real-time info to boost productivity

Augie - a trusted marketplace for short-dated products

Retail Aware - a sensor-driven business intelligence platform for brands and retailers

OjaExpress - an ethnic grocery delivery marketplace

The network built during Cohort 1 played a crucial role when recruiting the next set of companies for year two. Each finalist has a product or service with demonstrated customers and revenue, a compelling solution addressing needs in restaurant or retail tech, distribution or supply chains, and are seeking access to industry expertise from wholesale distributors, restaurant operators, and food suppliers. Of the seven companies, three are Chicago-based. 

“Innovation is essential to our industry’s long term success,” said Rich Wolowski, President & CEO of Gordon Food Service. “What exists today may not look the same in the future.. That’s why it’s important for us as an organization to take risks, try new things, and position ourselves to lead in shaping our tomorrow. The Food Foundry program supports those goals and these startups will enable us to better serve our customers.”

While in session, the cohort's members will receive mission-essential resources, hands-on mentorship, and technical guidance in a 16-week immersive format, which will culminate in a demo day on May 14th 2020. Integral to this program is 1871’s new PYROS initiative that ensures startups are provided with the right resources at exactly the right moment for their businesses. 

Additionally, the following Entrepreneurs-in-Residence at 1871 will aid in mentorship throughout the course: Rebecca Sholiton, Chief Operating Officer at Bonfire, Marty Hahnfeld, Chief Customer Officer at Olo, and Chris Freeman, VP business advisory and office tenancy at Colliers International.

“By partnering with Relish Works and Gordon Food Service, we’re able to pair our expertise in helping startups scale with their proficiency in the food distribution industry,” said Betsy Ziegler, CEO of 1871, “Together, we’ll provide foodservice startups with a first-class curriculum grounded in our newly launched PYROS initiative, which will advance their business and ensure that they’re investor ready.”

To learn more about The Food Foundry’s second cohort or its member companies, please contact Laura Habegger at or  J Blaszczykiewicz at

About The Food Foundry

The Food Foundry was built to provide mission-essential resources, hands-on mentorship, and technical guidance in a 16-week immersive format that combines the best of what these organizations offer. 

1871 supports this program with access to founder-focused curriculum and entrepreneurial mentorship, while Gordon Food Service offers vertical support in wholesale food distribution knowledge, facilities, customer networks, relationships and industry experts.

Participants will receive a $75,000 SAFE note. Furthermore, each participant will gain access to 1871’s full spectrum of resources including an expanded mentorship network of over 500 mentors, 1,000 annual events, and networking opportunities with 1871’s vast community of startups, innovators, and corporate partners.

About Relish Works

Relish Works is an innovation hub leading disruption in the food industry. Its purpose is to generate innovative solutions to the most pressing customer problems and unmet needs by creating partnerships, designing new solutions, and making strategic investments. Led by an entrepreneur, Relish Works has deep professional expertise in human-centered design, customer experience, strategy, and early-stage investing. The office is located in the Merchandise Mart building in downtown Chicago.

About Gordon Food Service

Since 1897, we have delivered uncompromising quality and heartfelt service for our customers. We began as a simple butter-and-egg delivery service, and have grown to become the largest family business in the foodservice industry by upholding the same approach for 120 years—remaining passionately committed to the people we serve. Today, we serve foodservice operators in the Midwest, Northeast, Southeast, and Southwest regions of the United States and coast-to-coast in Canada. We also operate more than 175 Gordon Food Service Store locations in the U.S. By partnering with organizations from across industries—healthcare to education, independent and chain restaurants, and event planners—we help our customers create food experiences that people choose, enjoy, and remember.

About 1871

1871 is Chicago’s digital technology hub and the #1 ranked private business incubator in the world. It exists to inspire, equip, and support founders building extraordinary businesses. Located in the historic Merchandise Mart, 1871 is home to ~450 technology startups and ~1,500 members supported by an entire ecosystem focused on accelerating their growth and creating jobs in the Chicagoland area. The nonprofit organization has 350 mentors available to its founders, alongside access to more than 100 partner corporations, universities, education programs, accelerators, venture funds and others. Since its inception in 2012, more than 650 alumni companies are currently still active, have created over 11,250 jobs, and have raised more than $1.5 billion in follow-on capital. Visit for more information.

Topics: Food Foundry

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