BOULDER — Mad Agriculture, a Boulder-based startup, won Rabobank’s FoodBytes! Boulder pitch competition’s Judges Choice award for its method of cultivating insects on food waste that can be used as food for animals, replacing ingredients such as soy and fishmeal.
Mad Ag, co-founded by Phil Taylor, Xavier Rojas and Rob Walcott, beat out nine other companies to win the award. It won an invitation to attend Rabobank’s Client Appreciation Events at Cipriani Wall Street in December to pitch to the audience of C-Suite executives from leading food and agriculture companies.
It also will receive legal-consultation services from law firm Holland & Hart; branding consultation with the experts at Nucleus Maximus, focusing on how best to reach consumers through branding and packaging; and consultation with Force Brands on how to recruit and build a team.
Mad Agriculture harnesses the nutrient-recycling abilities of insects to turn food waste into a protein-rich feed supplement, lessening dependence on unsustainable ingredients such as fishmeal and soy. It cultivates Black Soldier Fly larva using commercial food waste. The larva’s waste, or castings, produces a protein source that fish and chickens love to eat and also can be used as organic fertilizer to enrich soil.
“Two years ago, we saw an obvious need for a solution to two growing problems — food waste and the increasing cost of feed for farmers,” Taylor said. “Receiving the Judges’ Choice Award at FoodBytes! Boulder — from some of the leading minds in food and agriculture — confirms that the need is real, and we’re thrilled to use this platform to further our work.”
Denver-based The Honest Stand won the People’s Choice Award, and Michigan-based FarmRaiser won the Highly Commended award.
The Honest Stand is a gourmet food company that uses whole foods that are nongenetically modified to produce gourmet products that are vegan, paleo, and free of gluten, soy, yeast and cholesterol.
FarmRaiser is a healthy take on the traditional bake sale. It partners with local farmers and artisans to bring healthy, local food offerings to communities and students through fundraisers.
One hundred fifty companies from around the world applied for the competition, and 20 companies were selected to make pitches, including Fort Collins-based The Food Corridor, an online marketplace for food businesses to connect with available commercial food assets, allowing them to find and book commercial kitchens, equipment, commissaries, processors, copackers and food-storage spaces, founded by founded by Ashley Colpaart and Dan Moore.
Rabobank presented FoodBytes! Boulder in partnership with Food + Tech Connect and SF New Tech. The event took place Oct. 26 at the University of Colorado Boulder at Folsom Field’s Byron R. White Club.