NEW YORK, N.Y. — Pilotworks (formerly Foodworks), a community of food incubators, mentors, and entrepreneurs, has announced a $13MM round of Series A financing led by Techstars Ventures and Acre Venture Partners, alongside a group of world class venture capitalists and food industry veterans. The investment will help Pilotworks continue to build their education and mentorship program, expand their distribution reach, and open more kitchen spaces for upstarts across the United States.
Co-founders Mike Dee and Nick Devane acquired the first kitchen in September 2016 as a way of supporting emerging food startups. Since its launch, Pilotworks has helped 250+ nascent food and beverage businesses start and scale. The businesses in the kitchen are more than 70% women and minority-owned.
“We’re very excited to add so many great strategic partners and continue our work of empowering anyone to start a food business successfully,” said Pilotworks CEO and co-founder Nick Devane. “We will be adding new units: Newark just opened, and Chicago and Dallas are slated to open in December alongside our existing kitchens in Brooklyn, Portland, and Providence, as well as furthering our presence in New York City. We are also excited to continue expanding our services and offerings across the entire food stack.”
“I’ve known Mike and Nick since before they started Pilotworks. They’re the type of entrepreneurs I dream of working with,” said Mark Solon, Managing Partner at Techstars. “They lead by example, aren’t afraid to do the hard work themselves, are maniacally focused on their customer’s experience, and are obsessed with solving a big problem – helping food entrepreneurs bring new products to market. They embody the same give-first values we cherish at Techstars, and we’re thrilled to be involved.”
The kitchens provide access to flexible cooking infrastructure and equipment that rents by the hour and month, lowering the barrier to entry to young culinary entrepreneurs. They play host to market vendors, QSRs, CPG companies, bakers, caterers, delivery-only concepts, ice cream makers, chocolatiers, meal preppers, and many other forms of culinary entrepreneurs. The company also connects their members with access to their network of 75+ mentors that help with a wide range of topics, including fundraising, legal, social media strategy, recipe development, sourcing, branding, and accounting.
“Every day we see upstart food companies becoming an increasingly important part of the food system. Our investment in Pilotworks is about helping to unlock that potential and increase opportunity for entrepreneurs across the country,” said Lucas Mann of Acre Venture Partners. “Their mission was clear from our first conversation, and we believe in their ability to accelerate outcomes for the future of food.”
With the investment, Techstars Ventures and Acre Venture Partners join existing investors Arena Ventures, Riverpark (Andy Appelbaum, co-founder of Seamless), Ekistic Ventures (David Spielfogel, senior advisor to Rahm Emmanuel), Slow Ventures, SWTLF (Sweetgreen founders), Thrive Market founders, David Barber (Blue Hill), Scott Belksy (Behance founder), Marc Blazer (Overture Holdings), Shu Chowdry (Salido), Andy Peskoe, and Gin Lane. Pilotworks will continue to build their education and mentorship program, expand their distribution reach, and create more cooking spaces for upstarts across the United States.
“Food’s future depends on strong networks of like-minded eaters and lower barriers of entry for the entrepreneur,” said David Barber, co-owner of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns. “Pilotworks accomplishes both under one roof.”
“Pilotworks isn’t just creating a platform for food businesses to launch and scale; they’re building the next generation of food companies and creating a community of food entrepreneurs,” said Nic Jammet, co-founder and co-CEO of Sweetgreen.
The company also connects entrepreneurs with access to their network of 75+ mentors and has spurred business growth for food businesses like Aida Eats, Mac & Son, BOONBOX, Dank, and Crown Jewel Beverages.
“Pilotworks brilliantly provides everything an entrepreneurial food business needs – low overhead, shared access to capital intensive equipment, a collaborative work environment, cleaning, and warehousing services and technology,” said Andy Appelbaum, co-founder of Seamless. “If WeWork provides a benefit to young technology companies, Pilotworks is a necessity to young food businesses.”
Experience Pilotworks and get started on a next generation food business at http://www.thepilotworks.com/.