West Michigan start-up selected for Gordon Food Service-backed accelerator program

A new venture owned by serial entrepreneur Garrick Pohl from western Michigan was selected to participate in a Chicago-based accelerator program created by a Wyoming company Gordon Foodservice and its innovation and investment division relish works.

Pohls FreshPost LLC is among five early-stage startups selected from more than 500 global applicants to join the latest cohort of the Food Foundry Accelerator program.

Garrick Pohl, Founder of FreshPost LLC. (PHOTO COUR TESY)

Founded in West Michigan in mid-2022, FreshPost aims to partner with retailers of all sizes to build a network of temperature-controlled and secure pickup locations for take-out food and beverage delivery. Partners could range from grocers and meal kit suppliers to ghost kitchens, food banks and other types of businesses.

“We’re offering consumers the ability to pick up their orders when and where it’s convenient for them, at a fraction of the cost of home delivery,” Pohl said in an email MiBiz. “For retailers, we connect them to consumers who live and/or work in areas of aggregate demand (multi-family homes, work campuses, universities, etc.).”

Based in the Holland area, Pohl works for the company with a team of associates across Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois.

Acceptance into Food Foundry’s Accelerator program also comes with an initial investment of $75,000 for FreshPost and each of the startups, as well as a deep dive into the food and hospitality industry. The program brings early-stage companies together with industry experts from Gordon Food Service and other firms.

“The Food Foundry community is a perfect resource for our fledgling company as we want to network with others in the food space and gather feedback from website hosts, retailers and consumers,” said Pohl.

Other ventures in the new cohort include:

  • The Crop Project, a New York-based agricultural processing and wholesale company that markets renewable crops such as Atlantic kelp;
  • CZero Foods, a North Carolina-based startup offering carbon-neutral fulfillment for food brands in consumer packaged goods;
  • FlexSea, a London, UK-based company developing an algae-derived material to replace single-use plastic packaging; and
  • SupplyNow, a Cleveland, Ohio-based digital sourcing and logistics company providing on-demand deliveries for restaurants struggling with supply chain disruptions.

The owner-managed Gordon Food Service has been active in the venture capital industry in recent years. The company formed Relish Works in 2017 as its corporate venture capital fund to invest in companies transforming the hospitality industry.

Gordon Foods Service also participated along with Starbucks Corp. and Nestlé SA participated in Valor Equity Partners’ recent $595 million fundraising round for Valor Siren Ventures II LP, a Chicago-based early-stage venture capital fund, as MiBiz previously reported.

“For 125 years, Gordon Food Service has encouraged our teams to impact the future of food service,” said Rich Wolowski, President and CEO of Gordon Food Service, in a statement. “We’re excited to continue this legacy by supporting our fifth cohort of emerging companies that are pioneering new approaches to diverse challenges in our industry.”

Chicago-based Food Foundry’s accelerator program is designed to “support, connect and advance” early-stage companies that are “disrupting and rethinking the food industry,” according to its website. Over the past four years, startups that have completed a cohort at Food Foundry have raised more than $65 million in venture capital funding.

“Innovation is at the heart of everything we do at Relish Works and Gordon Food Service,” said Mandy Tahvonen, vice president and general manager of Relish Works, in a statement. “We are committed to supporting and growing early-stage food and foodservice businesses through funding and growth opportunities, and are excited to welcome our fifth cohort to our community.”

Food Foundry also named three entrepreneurs-in-residence — Betsy Fore, co-founder of Tiny Organics and Natives Rising, Robert Snyder, co-founder of HourWork, and Kyra Atekwana, founder of ReSourceful — as mentors for the cohort.

FreshPost follows in the footsteps of 86 Repairs Inc.who participated in a previous cohort at Food Foundry. Founded by Joe Gallagher and Daniel Estrada in Grand Rapids, the company streamlines the end-to-end repair and maintenance process for restaurants.

In addition, Pohl has previous experience in founding and growing venture capital-backed companies. He founded Zipments Corp.a provider of mobile delivery services that was sold to Silicon Valley competitor Deliv in 2015.

At Zipments, Pohl secured investments from the likes Wakestream Ventures, Windquest group, big angels, Huron River VenturesNew York-based FirstMark Capital and New York City Economic Development Corp., as MiBiz reported at the time.

Most recently, Pohl was involved Cubi marketsa roadside marketplace that has formed during the pandemic for local food producers.


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