Freshspire hits the road!

On Sunday June 19th, one of our cofounders - Mona Amin, headed to Orlando for the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) Student Entrepreneur Program (SEP).

WBENC SEP fosters growth for the next generation of women-owned businesses through tailored entrepreneur curriculum, a live pitch competition awarding $10,000 in seed capital, and mentoring from the most successful Women's Business Enterprises and America's largest Fortune 500 companies. Students will also participate in experiential learning through off-site visits to WBE and corporate campuses and accelerators. Since its inception in 2008, more than 150 students from 40 colleges and universities across the country have graduated from SEP. WBENC is proud to support women-owned businesses at all levels of success. Women Owned businesses are growing at one and a half times the U.S. national average and in turn contribute over $1.5 trillion dollars to the U.S. economy, employing nearly 7.9 million people, and in 2015 opened an average of 887 new businesses EVERY DAY!

Mona is one of 19 students selected for this competitive program, with an entrepreneur cohort representing 16 universities. She is excited to meet her mentors from Kroger & Ragozzino foods.

Happy St. Patty’s Day! #knowyourgreens

St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner. To get in the spirit, we were wondering how much you really #knowyourgreens. Here are the top 5 greens that provide the most nutrients. Acquired from WebMD. 

  1. Kale: This nutrition powerhouse offers everything you want in a leafy green. It's an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K, has a good amount of calcium for a vegetable, and also supplies folate and potassium.
  2. Collards: Used in Southern-style cooking, collard greens are similar in nutrition to kale. But they have a heartier and chewier texture and a stronger cabbage-like taste. A half cup has 25 calories.
  3. Turnip greens: Turnip leaves are another Southern favorite traditionally made with pork. More tender than other greens and needing less cooking, this sharp-flavored leaf is low in calories yet loaded with vitamins A,C, and K, as well as calcium.
  4. Swiss chard: Both Swiss chard and spinach contain oxalates. Chard contains 15 calories in one-half cup and is a good source of vitamins A and C.
  5. Spinach: Popeye's favorite vegetable has 20 calories per serving, plus it's packed with vitamins A and C, as well as folate. Spinach leaves can be cooked quickly in the water that remains on them after rinsing, or they can be eaten raw in salads. Bags of frozen chopped spinach are more convenient to use than block kinds, and this mild-flavored vegetable can be added to soups, pasta dishes, and casseroles.

 

#FreshWomen of the Week

In honor of International Women’s Day, we have decided to spotlight our favorite women that are disrupting the food industry. They serve as our daily inspiration, and we hope that you enjoy learning about the impact that these women have made in their communities.

1. Kristen Richmond & Kirsten Tobey, Co-Founders of Revolution Foods

These founding moms started Revolution Foods with a mission to transform the way America eats by providing access to healthy, affordable meals. They believe that proper nutrition is a cornerstone of providing our youth the nourishment they need to lead successful, healthy lives. What began in schools, serving freshly prepared meals to students, has since grown to retail and today they are proud to offer meal options for both families and students across the country. 150 million meals later, their amazing journey has only just begun.

2. Sabrina & Tara Mutukisna, Co-Founders of The Town Kitchen

Their vision is to create community through local food; a community where low-income Oakland youth can shine; a community where they will introduce under-served youth to talented chefs & start-up entrepreneurs so they have the skills and network to pursue their future. They are on a mission to shift the way people engage with food commerce, and ensure that local youth with significant barriers to employment and education have access to and voice in the development of this growing market.  

3. Hannah Dehradunwala, Co-Founder of Transfernation

Transfernation is a 501(c)3 non-profit which leverages technology to ensure that extra food from events goes to supporting communities in need. To date they have rescued over 10,000 pounds of food from events across NYC including corporate luncheons, galas, and conferences.

4. Regina Northouse, Executive Director of Food Recovery Network

Food Recovery Network is the largest student movement against hunger and has recovered and donated over one million pounds of food that otherwise would have gone to waste. That's over 800,000 meals that's gone to those in need.  

5. Shobhita Soor, Chief Innovation Officer of Aspire

Their mission is to provide economically challenged, malnourished populations with high protein and micronutrient-rich food solutions derived from the supply and development of insects and insect-based products. Our world is experiencing rapid urbanization, population growth and shrinkage of arable land, and loss of critical water resources. Aspire has developed a nutritious source of protein that is eco-friendly and resource efficient.

 

Food We Love

This week, we are bringing our favorite recipes to you! Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook (@FreshSpire) to see them. Making new food is always enjoyable, but do you ever get frustrated when you don't know what do with all of the extra ingredients in your fridge? There are many websites that can help you solve this problem. We've compiled just a few:

1) Recipe Matcher - This website pulls from its large database of recipes. Narrow down the search results by choosing your favorite cuisine. 

2) Super Cook - Updated as you enter your ingredients to make searching even faster. The small suggestion boxes are an additional plus.

3) Recipe Puppy - This website is populated with results from all over the web! 

There are many resources that can help you make full use of the left over food in your fridge. Food waste leads to 20% of methane emissions from our landfills. Reduce, reuse, and eliminate food waste! 

Falling in Love With Shopping

Do you ever dread making that trip to the grocery store? Well here’s four ways you can change your shopping experience to be more enjoyable!

1. Shop with a theme.

Choose different cuisines for each day of the week. Shopping for different kinds of foods (Mexican, Italian, etc.) can make walks down the grocery store aisles a little more bearable.

2. Find out what’s marked down, and plan backwards.

Sometimes it’s hard to think of different foods to make everyday. Try checking the papers for what’s on sale and then think of what you want to make.

3. Shopping scavenger hunts!

Do you have kids? As you explore the produce section, hand your kids the shopping list and have them go on a scavenger hunt to find what’s left.

4. Get to know your grocers.

It’s pretty convenient to pick up the brand name packages because it's quick and easy. Try to spend time getting to know the butcher, baker, or produce manager. Ask them for suggestions on what to buy. You may even end up saving some money.

 

Net Impact Conference 2015; Seattle, WA

What an incredible weekend in [soggy] Seattle! As one of the winning teams, FreshSpire was sponsored by the MSNBC “Growing Hope Challenge” to attend the Net Impact Conference in Seattle, WA. The conference brought together change makers at the undergraduate, graduate and professional level to collaborate on global social and environmental problems. We kicked off the conference on Thursday evening, incredibly inspired by Stephen Ritz, his students, and his movement: Green Bronx Machine (goosebumps through the entire keynote!). Friday and Saturday brought a plethora of resources, mentors, and ideas as we attended breakout sessions geared towards social business, sustainable food systems, food equity, and impact driven for-profits. We engaged in meaningful discussions with leaders in sustainability at Honest Tea, Walmart, Starbucks, and more, gaining new perspectives and fueling our passion for this venture.

Saturday morning we had the honor of hearing Chelsea Clinton speak-- what a role model. She spoke with such intelligence, composure, and insight while engaging the crowd with her work at the Clinton Foundation. Our favorite quote from her keynote was, “It’s better to be caught trying to make a difference, than to not try at all”. 

The team found some time to explore the unique city (when we weren’t being inspired by world leaders) and fell in love with it’s unique feel while perusing Pike Place Market - despite the ever-present drizzle. From the top of the famed ferris wheel to the eccentric Capitol Hill, we couldn’t have been prouder to represent FreshSpire in this amazing city. We’ll be back, Seattle!

NC School of Science and Math Grads' FreshSpire Wins #TheBigIdea Project

Building a business while in college—especially four different colleges—has been tricky for the five young women who dreamt up FreshSpire three years ago as 11th graders at the North Carolina School of Science and Math.

Though they've made progress in the years since—winning mentorship from the Clinton Global Initiative and a 2015 Prize for Innovation from the local Institute for Emerging Issues—they've struggled to find a developer to turn their project into a real technology and local mentors to build a business around it.

The Big Idea Project plans to change that, providing $100,000 worth of business help, co-working space at HQ Raleigh and a team of developers to finally bring to market an app that keeps food from landfills by notifying students and impoverished populations of deals on soon-to-expire or imperfect items on grocery store shelves.

"This is really going to motivate us to make it a reality," says Shraddha Rathod, a FreshSpire co-founder and computer and electrical engineering major at NC State University (pictured middle above). "This feels like the mentorship and experience that we need to make FreshSpire something that is valuable to the community and of great quality."

Rathod and her co-founders came up with the idea in an introduction to entrepreneurship class at the elite Durham public high school that prepares 11th and 12th grade students for STEM careers. The women lived together while in school and spent time building a business plan, developing a pitch and having early conversations with grocers before heading off the college in 2014. Gabrielle Beaudry (pictured left) and Hannah Sloan (pictured right) are now students at the University of North Carolina, where Sloan is undecided on a major and Beaudry studies sustainable agriculture. Mona Amin attends East Carolina University and majors in biology, and Jennifer Wu is a business and biology major at the University of Pennsylvania.

The first semester of freshman year was all about settling into college. But the second semester provided renewed focus on FreshSpire when the women won a $10,000 fan favorite award at the Emerging Issues Forum in February and were selected to attend the Clinton Global Initiative University in March. There, they made one of eight global commitments: "to discourage food waste and encourage healthier produce purchasing at a lower cost through a mobile app." 

Next up was a Verizon Student Innovator Challenge win worth nearly $5,000 at NC State's Lulu eGames in April.

That early momentum attracted The Big Idea Project judges, says organizer David Baxter of Big Pixel Studio in Raleigh.

The idea was also "instantly relatable," he says. "I don't have to explain their business. It just makes sense. It's a problem that is huge and no one is really trying to tackle yet."

The solution isn't too difficult to build either, Baxter says. His hope was to find a team so early into their business that Big Pixel could build an app from the ground up. He got his wish with FreshSpire. The women have wire frames, but haven't begun work on the app. 

Next week, they'll begin meeting with former IKEA executive and global branding expertSteen Kanter and Uncompany founder Maari Casey to fine tune their business strategy, branding and marketing. In several weeks, they'll start meeting with the Big Pixel team to begin the development process.

That work will be complete in April, when the women will pitch a working MVP at a Big Idea Demo Day and begin raising capital on the Malartu Funds crowdfunding platform.

FreshSpire was one of five finalists selected from a pool of 27 applicants to the inaugural Big Idea Project. In a pitch contest last week, the women went up against Toddly, an app for buying and sell high-end baby furniture and supplies, Papilia, an app that helps users plan for travel, RunBucks, a rewards app for runners and Fund My Story, a button for news media sites that lets readers donate directly to a cause.

Baxter was pleased with the quality of applicants and expects a second round to happen next fall. But before he makes any major announcements, he's got to deliver for FreshSpire.

"I believe we have a good foundation to build upon," he says. "The next six months are obviously very telling, but we have as good a team as we could possibly hope for."

This content was originally posted by Laura Baverman on Exit Event

 

Welcome to FreshSpire

Here at FreshSpire, we recognize the value of stories.

Whether it's the path that a single item of food takes -- from growth to gleaning to  packaging to eventual consumption or waste -- or the possibly complex network of people and curiosities and social media and web hosting that led you to this page, we value the narratives we all bring to the table. We ourselves have begun investigating and writing a story that is far from over, and we are excited to share this journey with you.

So welcome! For those of you who aren’t too well-versed on what we aim to do, here’s the gist of it:  FreshSpire is a mobile application platform that connects grocers and consumers in an attempt to reduce food waste, help people eat healthier, and generate more revenue for grocers.

How do we aim to do this, you ask?

We address what becomes, when analyzed, a narrative of ineffective food distribution. According to the USDA, grocery stores throw out an estimated $15 billion worth of produce yearly, most of which is marked down prior to being thrown out. These daily markdowns on near-expiring or cosmetically imperfect goods aren’t communicated to consumers unless shoppers happen to walk into these stores and see the time-sensitive deal. It is here we recognize a clear inefficiency and here we focus our efforts! We’ll organize all this pricing information into a simple, user-friendly news feed that updates based on user location, store, item, and deal preferences. Our ultimate goal is to provide a triple threat: we hope to make healthy produce more accessible, make grocery stores more profitable, and reduce the rate of landfill growth.

So far, we have had tremendous support from our community. We got our initial start in high school -- at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics -- and, now in college, we've spread out over the East Coast. This past year, we have entered business plan competitions, traveled to leadership conferences, and joined entrepreneurship organizations all in hopes of bringing FreshSpire to a city near you! If you’d like to get involved, drop us a line at teamfreshspire@gmail.com or follow us on one of our social media platforms to stay tuned for more updates. For now, remember: don’t perspire over what’s expired…just get FreshSpired!