Food Tech Investor Spotlight: Chris Persson on the Future of Food

Wednesday 3rd May

By YFood

We’re an interactive platform passionate about driving innovation in the Food Industry using technology by connecting and supporting the most brilliant minds in the food industry.

Chris Persson is an entrepreneur and investor from Stockholm, Sweden. Entrepreneurial from a young age, he has started several companies including Vielife and Bookatable. Chris is a mentor at Seedcamp (London) and Singularity University Startup Labs (Silicon Valley), part of the Founders Network (Dublin) and an advisor on early stage investments to some of Europe’s largest organisations within health and Food Tech. We caught up with Chris before he spoke at YFood Insight & Innovation Day to learn what he thinks is driving the Food Tech industry forward.

Food Tech is a really exciting sector to be in right now. Tell us a bit about your connection to the industry and how you got into it?

Chris: My first real job was in a bakery at the age of 15. I learnt how to “make” food by mixing ingredients. I found it fascinating! Since then I have been in and out of the industry in different aspects. For example:

  • I turned an old boozer, the Phene Arms, into an acclaimed gastropub, using “home built”, i.e. very clunky tech solutions in-house.
  • I built Bookatable, a marketing tool that is used by 20,000 restaurants and millions of consumers every day.
  • I also backed Winnow Solutions to counteract food waste from an early stage.

What opportunities do you think technology opens up to drive innovation in the food system?

Chris: One of the key aspects of technology is transparency. For example through technology, it’s more widely known that we waste as much food as we eat. From a helicopter perspective we learn this through rapid, global, digital discussions and from a more detailed level we see this through reports from kitchens on how much food was thrown away just an hour ago.

Technology helps us understand food better, for example solutions like Bumpmark, Innoscentia and Impact Vision allow the true use by dates to be communicated to humans without relying on arbitrary labelling.

Overall, technology will help us reduce costs in the system. This will have a massive impact.

But, we can’t forget, it also helps with discovery, thus driving sales – recipes online, live streamed events in chefs kitchens, deep discounted last minute cancelled seats at busy, busy restaurants, etc, etc.

What do you think the next 3 big Food Trends are that we need to look out for?

Chris: Food linked to performance has to be number 1. Healthy food is good and trendy and all that….but does it really help us to perform our tasks better? Think doping, but natural. It can’t be long before you get a “Fitbit inside”, i.e. a chip in your body that tells you that the food you just ate gave you X amount more energy.

Secondly, I think we’ll find a substitute for sugar. Sugar is a the big killer. Why aren’t we doing something about that? I think we will see things happening in this area.

Lastly, Breakfast rules. In the big cities like London and New York, lavish business dinners are a thing of the past….Breakfast is already a hit in many restaurants, but it will become even bigger. Watch this space!

Where do you think investors should be putting their money?

Chris: It depends. The really long-term guys with seriously deep pockets, see the trends above!

For most other investors, pick a company with a strong founder, team and that is solving a problem that is very important for the user.

Which companies do you think are doing really innovative things in the Food Tech industry at the moment and why?

Impact Vision and Orderscape are visionary, unafraid, smart people, doing really funky stuff with technology. Also Just-Eat, in a little over 10 years, they have built a £3.5Bn tech company in the food space. They are profitable and really driving innovation. Not many 10 year old companies launch their own accelerator……

If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing in the food ecosystem tomorrow, what would it be?

Chris: Find a healthy substitute for sugar!

Do you want to hear more from Chris? Attend YFood Insight & Innovation Day where he’ll be telling us about his latest Food Tech investment. Book your ticket now.

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