Entrepreneurs: Nik Bauman, 25, Emily Olson, 24, and Rob LaFave, 26
Funding: $1 million from First Round Capital, SoftTech VC, and TechStars
For a video interview with Foodzie's founders, click here.
Friends since their first year at Virginia Tech, the founders of Foodzie reconvened after college to build an online outlet for artisan food. Chief Marketing Officer Olson had worked at a specialty food retailer and saw how tough it was for local producers to get shelf space. Many mom-and-pop purveyors sell through farmer's markets but aren't big or tech savvy enough to land in stores or sell through large e-tail food sites, such as iGourmet. "There's this huge divide," adds CEO LaFave. Foodzie helps bridge the gap by handling credit-card processing and tax calculations and supplying prepaid shipping labels to the makers of grass-fed beef, sea salt caramels, and Sumatra coffee that populate its site. In return, Foodzie takes 20% of sales. Next up: tools to help bloggers and serious eaters promote Foodzie on Facebook and other sites.
Lessons learned: "If you always listen to the news, it's easy to get disheartened," says Chief Technology Officer Bauman. "What you need to do sometimes is disconnect and focus on what you can control."