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Meet the Alumni: Proppos

Artificial intelligence has become a fundamental pillar of the food industry these days. This new technology has a purpose throughout the entire agri-food chain, innovating, streamlining, and improving processes within the sector allowing it to offer a better service, quality, and product to consumers. 

Proppos

We had the opportunity to interview Nil Salomó Bellavista, CEO and Co-Founder of Proppos, an artificial intelligence company specializing in food recognition, which together with its partners, offers first-class A.I. payment solutions to the Food and Retail industries. Proppos’ mission is to transform the payment experience through an accurate, autonomous, and accessible computer vision solution. 

Read on to learn firsthand how the idea for the company came about, future goals, his views on how artificial intelligence will change the world, and more.

 

How did the idea of starting Proppos come up?

While working in the food sector, specifically in a catering company within the IT team, we observed the need to speed up the queues in the food service business, yet without increasing costs. The most feasible and optimal solution was to automate the payment system using artificial intelligence and computer vision technology.  The products we were selling consisted of natural products, with no barcode, making AI the technology of choice for this project. From this idea, we started to conceptualize the Proppos concept in 2019. 

What stage of the project were you in when you entered the Eatable Adventures Accelerator Program and how do you consider you have come out? 

We entered the Eatable Adventures Accelerator Program in the very early stages of the project, but already had a validated MVP and some market traction.

Throughout the program, our ideas were maturing and becoming more formalized. Our project was much clearer at the end of the program, both in terms of funding, processes, and relationships with companies. 

Do you have new innovations in mind for Proppos? 

Absolutely! Our goal is to diversify our customers as much as possible within the food service sector. 

At the very beginning of our project, we were faced with the challenges of the global pandemic, in which the whole catering sector was forced to close to the public. Having a new and innovative project focused on the food service sector slowed down the integration process as we had to explain and show our customers what Proppos was all about. Like everything else, the sector had to innovate, and with this new opportunities appeared for us for implementing our technology in the food sector, from order tracking in the fast-food sector, to monitoring food safety in clinics and hospitals.

In what ways do you think artificial intelligence is going to reshape the world? 

It certainly has already been doing so. Gradually, before we know it, we will be involving artificial intelligence in our day-to-day lives. The first step will be to use tools like ours to automate monotonous and simple task processes, streamlining human daily life, saving time, and allowing workers to focus on more value-added reasoning tasks.  

What has been the best advice Jose Luis has given you?

He has helped and advised us in many different areas, but especially in terms of investment and how to focus when it comes to seeking investment rounds. Thanks to him we understood the importance of expanding and searching for investment at an international level to be able to scale the company and generate money in a sustainable way.

 

Learn more about Eatable Adventures’ alumni by visiting more interviews in our blog.

Meet the EAA Alumni: Innomy

Innomy

Francisco Kuhar – CSO & Technology Partner; Juan Pablo de Giacomi – CEO & Founder; Pablo Sanchez Rey – COO & Founder.

With the growing demand from the population to eat more and more sustainably, fungi-based meat is one of the new alternatives being pursued by many companies, with the aim of mimicking the taste and texture of real meat. 

Innomy, an Argentinan-based startup located in Spain, is using fungal tissue cultures combined with precision fermentation technology to create complex structures that replicate the fibrous and tender consistency of meat. Created in laboratories, fungi-based meat relies on the mycelium, which is a network of fine filaments that are similar to the muscles of animals. The company modifies the shape, color, and flavor of the filamentous structures in mycelial matrices to make products that taste like meat.

During our interview with Francisco Kuhar, CSO & Technology Partner of Innomy, whose company participated in our Accelerator Program in 2020, he explained how the program helped the company grow, the reasons they chose the fungi-based meat to create their product, and the best advice they received from our CEO, Jose Luis Cabañero. Read on to learn more about Innomy’s experience during the Eatable Adventures Accelerator Program.

 

What stage was Innomy at when you joined the Eatable Adventures Acceleration program? Can you tell us about the growth Innomy has had since participating in our acceleration program?

When Innomy joined the Eatable Adventures Acceleration program: ‘Spain Food Tech’, the development stage was at an advanced stage, but the team’s configuration as a startup was incipient and a lot of organizational work was needed to be able to expose itself to investors and the public. Working with CNTA in the framework of this program was a huge help, as this institution became a valuable partner along the way. The experience we gained from Eatable Adventures enabled us to develop a credible business proposal, as well as to organize the team, understand the language of communication, and present ourselves to investors. In addition, the contacts provided by the Program and the appearances at various events allowed us to increase our reach and access to financing and production proposals.

 

What has the Spanish foodtech ecosystem offered you to establish your company in Spain?

In particular, we felt very supported by the Basque ecosystem. Institutions such as Beaz, Talent, and the BIC of this community welcomed us and helped us in a very active way. On the other hand, Basque research institutions and industry have been very supportive and are allowing us to grow.

 

What are the advantages and benefits of using mycelium compared to other protein alternative raw materials on the market today?

The mycelium contains high-quality protein in terms of its amino acid composition, but also in the supply of vitamins, Beta-glucans, ergosterol, and other compounds whose health benefits include the maintenance of a competent immune system, lower cholesterol levels, and the availability of nutrients without the need for artificial additives.

What is the most valuable piece of advice José Luis has given you in our Acceleration Program?

José Luis taught us that talking with a product on the table is much more effective than communicating ideas or a project. Even if it needs to be improved, the product shows an anchor with the reality that is often valued in the European entrepreneurial environment. Our speech was crystallized into a solid demonstrable development, which changed the way investors or other partners listened to us.

Meet the EAA Alumni: MOA Foodtech

Moa FoodtechMOA Foodtech is a Spanish startup that combines biotechnology and artificial intelligence to transform waste and by-products from the agri-food industry into a 100% sustainable ‘‘new generation protein” of high nutritional value.  Their goal is to implement new technologies that promote a fairer, more compassionate, and more sustainable food system while still being appealing to consumers.

We had the opportunity to interview Bosco Emparanza García, CEO and founder of MOA Foodtech, one year after going through our Accelerator Program. Discover what this meant to them, the advice he still retains, and how he sees MOA Foodtech in the future.

 

How did the idea of founding a company as MOA Foodtech arise? What is the main goal of the company?

The world is currently in a critical environmental situation. By 2050, agriculture will need to feed 40% more people, produce 70% more food, using only 10% more land.
The whole MOA team was concerned about the situation and the huge impact the agri-food industry has. For this reason, the three founding partners, Susana, José María, and I, made this decision to leave our jobs as scientific directors in a biopharmaceutical, M&A, and commercial company, respectively. As a step towards developing a sustainable agriculture-food model, we set out to investigate the following: Can we use waste and by-products from the agri-food industry to produce high-value food using biotechnology?

 

What were the benefits of working with Eatable Adventures in your first steps until the business was consolidated?

The beginning of our journey was a time of uncertainty. That same year was the confinement, and we found ourselves leaving our jobs. At that point, the Eatable Adventures team came on board; they believed in the project and shared our ambition. The solution we wanted had to be global, and thanks to Eatable’s way of working and networking, we were able to start a global project. As time passed, the most rewarding and intense hours of the week were our meetings with Mila and José Luis, when we wrote down our plans to overcome the next hurdle, and we did.

 

What is the most valuable piece of advice José Luis has given you in our Acceleration Program?

Having spent so many hours working together, it is impossible to choose just one. But without a doubt, there have been two in particular that made us change our approach and begin to see things more clearly.

The first, and undoubtedly essential, was that we had to seek international investment. This was the best way to position ourselves as a credible project and thus begin to grow.
And the second was to consider what we really were. Instead of thinking, we were just a protein manufacturer, we had to think of ourselves as a platform.

 

What is in the near future for MOA Foodtech and where do you aspire to go in the long term?

Our goal is to be a global project, so we are scaling the technology to an industrial level and developing solutions focusing on the Asian (where protein consumption will grow the most), European and American markets. In addition, we are working on applications not only in meat analogs but also in snacks and dairy analogs. We are also developing new processes utilizing by-products and residues, and perhaps most importantly, we’ve developed an artificial intelligence tool that helps us develop all of the above more efficiently and quickly.

Check out our other Alumni Interviews here.

Meet the EAA Alumni: Ekonoke

 

Ekonoke Ekonoke is a Madrid-based company with a disruptive business model. It produces hops of the highest quality, ensuring sustainability and reliability of supply, and developing climate-resilient agricultural solutions with the least use of resources.

We had the opportunity to talk with Inés Sagrario, CEO and Co-founder of Ekonoke, which participated in our Eatable Adventures Acceleration Program (EAA) in 2019. Read on to learn more about Ekonoke’s experience as part of the acceleration program.

 

Could you narrate Ekonoke’s journey since you’ve been part of our accelerator program?

Ekonoke joined the Eatable Adventures Accelerator Program in September 2018. Our original project had nothing to do with what we are now. Even the partners at the beginning told us the project wasn’t quite right, but that they were confident in our team. We made fundamental decisions together to put the project on a better track, becoming who we are now.

In the first place, we suffered some confluence of our work with the Eatable Adventures team and the alterations of climate change we had to face. In March 2019 there was a beastly heatwave in Madrid, passing 40 degrees in the greenhouse, which was not prepared for it. This led to a drop in production, making us unable to get to serve customers we already committed with.
During this time we realized we couldn’t continue working in a greenhouse, and we had to switch to indoor cultivation.

With support from Eatable Adventures, we also realized that our vertical garden model focused on Horeca was not a scalable project, but rather an artisanal one. Responding to what our restaurant clients requested, we made our first change by offering ready-for-harvest live mini-gardens. Through Eatable, we were introduced to a variety of events, and in one of them, we met our partners Tallos microgreens. In combining the two projects, the brand Ekonoke was born.
Simultaneously, we continued testing with crops that did not have climate risk, one of them being hops, which has led us to what we are today.

  

Walk us through your rebranding process decision, why did you decide to focus only on one type of crop, as well as only selling your products at a B2B level?

We put together the situation Ekonoke was in at the time. On the one hand, our mini-gardens were not being profitable. Despite receiving very positive feedback from customers, we didn’t have the level of repetition that we had envisioned in our pre-covid business model.

On the other hand, having already been working with hops and being in contact with breweries, we realized that the brewing industry faced an important challenge of supplying their raw material sustainably and reliably.

Putting these two situations together, the answer was clear. One of the strongest supporters of our decision to completely change our business model has been Jose Luis Cabañero, CEO of Eatable Adventures.  

 

What is the most valuable piece of advice you have received from Jose Luis in our Accelerator Program?

First of all, I would like to emphasize that the greatest advice I have received from Jose  Luis was not really during the Acceleration Program period. Once you are part of the program, you create bonds, connections, and relationships that last a lifetime. It is very valuable to have a team behind your project with a vision and the ability to guide and support you as you make future decisions.

Having said that, the biggest piece of advice he told us was to decide to focus on growing hops. It was hard to accept and put aside our mini-garden project, but after long conversations with Jose Luis, he made us understand that the future of Ekonoke was in being a hops company.

 

Where do you envision Ekonoke in the short and long-term future?

In the short term, we are already working to have our first commercial-scale hop growing facility in Galicia, having close connections with Estrella de Galicia’s brewery. We want to show the world that different types of crops can be grown in different ways, starting with hops, so that food and ingredients do not have to travel thousands of miles, but rather the knowledge and technology will do.

In ideally 4-5 years, we will have our indoor hop growing facilities available worldwide, being the leading company that has completely revolutionized the hop industry.