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RealEats scores $1M prize at Food & Ag Summit in Rochester

Geneva Company Wins Top Prize

By Gabriel Pietrorazio

RealEats America in Geneva was selected as the inaugural Grow-NY competition first prize $1 million winner at the two-day Food & Ag Summit held in Rochester on Wednesday, November 13th.

Grow-NY is a food and agriculture business competition that supports innovative, high-growth startups in the food consumption market.

This year marking its first competition, nearly 200 food and agriculture startups from around the world applied for the competition this spring.

Following three-rounds of competition, which feathered into a field of 17 finalists, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced and congratulated RealEats for receiving the grand prize after a panel of judges determined them as the top startup.

“This targeted investment not only helps these dynamic companies establish themselves in New York State, but supports New York’s regional agricultural economy. RealEats represents the initiatives that will create a lasting economic impact on New York’s agribusiness,” Governor Cuomo said.

Select winners of the Grow-NY competition must commit to operating their businesses for at least one year within Central New York, the Finger Lakes or Southern Tier.

Winners were determined based on their respective business pitches among five criteria: viability of commercialization and business model, customer value, food and agriculture innovation, regional job creation and team.

RealEats’ headquarters and operations are stationed primarily in Geneva and the company seems ready to burst with new business and brand propositions.

Credit: FL1 Reporter Gabriel Pietrorazio

The startup company recently disclosed that its distant goal aims to develop a new website experience where customers can peruse the marketplace, purchasing individual meals and even mix-and-match options.

Since officially winning the Grow-NY competition, they ultimately seek to acquire new customers, buy some new equipment as well as explore new local partnerships with businesses.

“We are so thrilled to have won this prize money and are so thankful to New York State for this opportunity. With this prize, we will be able to leverage the amazing resources in the region to take our startup to the next level,” Founder and CEO of RealEats Dan Wise stated following Cuomo’s announcement.

While RealEats and even the City of Geneva symbolically won in Rochester at the summit, the rest of the Finger Lakes and its local businesses have benefited from the Grow-NY competition as well.

Aside from RealEats earning the $1 million top prize, two $500,000 awards and four $250,000 prizes were administered.

Syracuse’s Dropcopter, a service company that provides unmanned aircraft systems for automated pollination in orchards received one of the two $500,000 disbursements.

Ithaca’s Capro-X, an agritech spin-off from Cornell University that addresses the acid whey waste problem prevalent in Greek yogurt production; Combplex, a company that seeks to offer a solution to the varroa mites epidemic for beekeepers, and Whole Healthy Food, a scientifically isolated-protein white kidney bean vender were all awarded $250,000 prizes each.

Lastly, Victor’s The Perfect Granola, a vender of homemade granola products, was also a $250,000 recipient.

During the two-day summit, almost 900 startups, companies, investors, resource providers, researchers, entrepreneurs, farmers, and students travelled to Rochester to witness the pitch competition as well as a symposium consisting of a panel series that addressed arising opportunities and challenges within the current agricultural industry.


Pietrorazio is a senior at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. He’s written for the Town Times of Watertown, Connecticut Times, Finger Lakes Times, and current serves as reporter for FL1 News. Feedback, tips, and story ideas can be sent to gabriel@fingerlakes1.com.


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