An inspiring cycling tour along Amsterdam's most promising food startups

The Organic Food against Climate Change challenge, by Wessanen and Impact Hub Amsterdam in association with Triodos Bank and Crosswise Works, has started. Eleven startups were picked to challenge themselves, scale and grow their business - but also to inspire each other!
In Amsterdam innovative food startups have been popping up like mushrooms over the recent years. On May 4th, partnership broker Bas Gadiot of  Crosswise Works took the participants of the Organic Food Against Climate Change Challenge  on a journey along some of the most promising ones. And what better way than to do this in a very Amsterdam-like manner: by bicycle tour! Welcome in the world of seaweed tagliatelle, fermented tea and not-so-ordinary beer brewers. 
First stop, Europe’s first food business incubator. Enter the  Kitchen Republic and you see entrepreneurs in an enormous kitchen helping each other out. In this shared commercial kitchen 28 entrepreneurs can work 24/7 to make their food products a success. Bart-Jan Veldhuizen, co-founder of Kitchen Republic, explained he was inspired by similar spaces in America. Important rule: all entrepreneurs have to make different products, so that all entrepreneurs are willing to help each other out.  Although the kitchen is huge, they’re almost full. Yet they have plans to expand in the near future. Some members gave us some insights on their enterprises – and let us taste their products. Kitchen Republic is an inspiring place, that’s for certain. Not only because of the impressive physical appearance of the space, but because of the determined mentality of their members as well.

Kelly Fagan of the US is the American founder of Cultured Kombucha , Amsterdam’s first microbrewery of kombucha. In case you don’t know what kombucha is: you’re not the only one. But that’s about to change! Kombucha is fermented tea with a taste that is not easy to describe. Some say sour, some say sweet. Some say soda-like, some mention alcohol. It would be easy to host an entire afternoon discussing the taste of Kombucha, but the bottom-line is: it’s healthy an you’ll hear from it.

A whole different type of entrepreneur is Edwin Sander of Food Creativ. Chef and visionary in one, his outspoken ideas on how he’s going to reconnect strangers again through the experience of sharing food is fascinating. Think of The Morning, his pop-up breakfasts where cuisines from all over the world are introduced. Or Foodsy, a concept that is meant to fail: a restaurant that has no waiters, to highlight the importance of staff.

All the way from down under, Peter Ong works in Kitchen Republic on his  Baked in Amsterdam pastry and his Patricia Liqueur. The latter can best be described as the good old Dutch jenever going down under in Australia’s coffee culture. G’day mate, gezellig! Peter: “The most important thing is that you as an entrepreneur have to go out and stand for your product. You have to tell customers and investors your story, because you’d do it best.” Yes, Peter, you are right. But with your Australian accent, you could sell anything.

Next stop, Nieuwe Hemweg. Yet again, some inspiring entrepreneurs. Willem Sodderland of  Seamore has one ambition: turning a niche food like seaweed into an everyday food. “So, I had this seaweed pasta served to my kids. You know, Bolognese and everything. I wondered what they thought of it. They said it was alright. When I told them they just tasted seaweed they were like: so what?” His experience as an entrepreneur taught him not to waste time on pleasing everyone. Just make the product as good as possible so that people don’t consider it a big change to eat more sustainable products. 

An eureka moment was felt by Gijs van Maasakker when he tasted fermented coconut milk as an alternative to yoghurt. The result is Abbott Kinney’s , a product that could be found in many organic shops. His ambition is to make plant-based alternatives that are even better than the original. Several participants concluded he is on the way to fulfill that ambition.

What is a better way than ending a day like this with a cold beer in a microbrewery? The answer is, to go to De Prael , a brewery with great beers and a great social mission. A mission of helping psychiatric patients, drug addicts and others, who need a little bit more help to function in the work place, to a rewarding and meaningful job. Fer Kok, co-founder of the brewery and formerly working in psychiatric hospitals explained his motivation. “I love beers, but I love this group of people even more,” he concluded.

A great and inspiring day it was - and there is a lot more to come during the Organic Food against Climate Change challenge.
Innovation tour