Oct 1, 2019
HVADC’s Farm and Food Funding Accelerator (FFFA) program enjoys a diversity of partners, participants, and consultants within a large regional footprint; with product types ranging from chai-spiced honey to an agri-tourism destination and market.
HVADC’s Farm and Food Funding Accelerator (FFFA) program enjoys a diversity of partners, participants, and consultants within a large regional footprint; with product types ranging from chai-spiced honey to an agri-tourism destination and market. The program is an intensive mentoring and training program for Hudson Valley farmers and food entrepreneurs seeking to scale their business, gain access to capital, and build sales. Over the course of six to eight months, participants engage in a series of one-on-one mentoring sessions, group interaction and industry networking events to learn how to talk to investors, discover new market opportunities, and pitch to potential funders at the completion of their program. Jose “Jaq” Quezada of Veeda Holi Hydration participated in the second FFFA program which concluded this past June.
Quezada grew up as an athlete challenged by health issues in a low-income household, headed by a single parent. As he worked with his great-uncle on his health, he developed an awareness that he had become intolerant of processed foods and sugars. Together, Quezada and his great-uncle retooled and refined Quezada’s diet to be mostly comprised of fruits, vegetables salads, and juicing. It was then when Quezada said he discovered the healing powers of cucumber juice—a life-changing boost which he continues to pursue-- even decades later.
Veeda Holi Hydration is simply cold-pressed juiced organic cucumbers and organic non-pasteurized lemon juice. Quezada explained that since cucumber juice is made of 96% alkalizing, nutrient and electrolyte-rich water that those properties naturally cool, nourish, and hydrate the body on a cellular level. They source ingredients from United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Organic, Kosher, and Fair Trade-certified suppliers. The bottling process consists of cold-pressing the fruit to maintain nutrients and HPPing (High-Pressure Pasteurized) to treat and avoid pathogens from developing. Veeda products contain no additives, water, GMO's, chemicals nor any heated pasteurization process. Since the beverage contents are natural and therefore perishable, he ships the product in insulated lined boxes with dry ice wrapped in paper to keep the coolers cooled and consumers from hurting themselves upon unpacking.
Veeda Holi Hydration bills itself as “a plant based functional beverage brand on a mission to redefine hydration.” The name consists of three parts: product purpose, product type, and product function. Veeda is a twist on the Latin word “vida” meaning life. Holi is short for “holistic,” which Quezada said represents the company’s honesty in using sustainable ingredients only. Lastly, “hydration” is the “core focus in function and category.”
Quezada said he was introduced to the FFFA through introductions to HVADC Executive Director, Todd Erling by the New York Empire State Development (ESD) program by then-Mid-Hudson ESD project manager Whitney Bowers and Monique LeGende , senior project manager at Mid-Hudson ESD. “The program helped me understand the various non-dilutive funding options there are to seek and explore,” said Quezada. “I received help in the manner of polishing the presentation, financial modeling and projections, as well with founder advise. Additionally, we were introduced to key contacts in the region which can be helpful where we learned about banking, farming, and presenting.”
Brian Zweig, principal for Business Opportunities Management Counseling in Rensselear County, worked with Quezada to develop financial projections, “fine-tuning” his investor presentation, analyzing profit margins, identifying and evaluating potential sources of funding and lastly evaluating distribution options. “[Quezada] is a very bright guy with a good product concept,” said Zweig. “He is also passionate about his product and a good listener. These are important ingredients to being a successful entrepreneur. He came to the FFFA program with significant financial challenges and he is working on securing the funding needed to take his venture forward.”
2016 was the FFFA’s inaugural year, and saw Lavenlair Farms from Washington County with lavender bath and body products; Balet Flowers & Design from Saratoga County, Les Collines of Columbia County with sweet and savory artisanal jellies and preserves; Raspberry Fields Farm of Ulster County with granola and gift basket products; The Green Onion of Orange County agricultural education center; Fishkill Farms apple farm and craft cidery in Dutchess County; Argyle Cheese Factory which manufactures award-winning cheeses and yogurts in Washington County and Soukup Farms of Dutchess County with maple products. The 2018-2019 peer class was just as diverse, including: Berle Farm in Rensselaer County producing organic yogurt and cheeses; Battenkill Valley Farms in Washington County—an agri-tourism destination and market venue; Miracle Springs Farm in Columbia County, a goat dairy and cheese producer; Farmer and Baker in Orange County which is using their crops and livestock to supply their soon-to-open food market and eatery in Middletown; Gray Family Farm in Orange County with a diversified line ranging from poultry, maple, livestock, hay and flowers; JSK Cattle Company in Dutchess County with pasture-raised cows; Gopal Farms in Ulster County which grows heirloom Indian and Ayuverdic crops; Local Artisan Bakery in Ulster County which offers small-batch bakery items with locally sourced ingredients and Phoenicia Honey Co. in Ulster County which creates unique flavors profiles to add to honey and honey products.
Through the FFFA program, participants have the opportunity to connect with the growing network of funders that support local food systems through methods such as equity, loans, grants crowdfunding, as well as HVADC’s Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Loan Fund. Training sessions are conducted by HVADC, its industry partners, industry professionals, and institutional and retail stakeholders in the Hudson Valley food system. In addition to HVADC instructors, Peers from the prior classes participate as mentors, as HVADC continues to build a supportive ecosystem of food entrepreneurs in the region. Members of the 2019/2020 peer group will be announced in mid-October.
For more information, please contact HVADC Program Associate Jennifer Bock at email@example.com.
Image Source: Veeda Holi Hydration