Industry Insights · 18min read
11 Inspiring Women in the Food Tech Industry
Discover some of the most exciting female founders and entrepreneurs who are propelling food tech forward in Europe.
We shine the spotlight on eleven inspiring female entrepreneurs whose startups and companies are taking the European food tech industry by a storm. Learn more about their exciting and innovative products, technologies, channels, and business models. Discover an insightful compilation of interviews and talks from the online sphere.
Saasha Celestial-One & Tessa Clarke | Co-Founders, OLIO
OLIO is a free food sharing app working to track surplus food in households and businesses so it can be shared and redistributed as a means of tackling food waste. In 2015, OLIO Co-Founders Tessa Clarke and Saasha Celestial-One conducted market research using Survey Monkey and tested their proof of concept in a closed WhatsApp Group with 12 participants. Later that year, their first investor, Simpleweb, which is incidentally a software developing agency, helped them build their first MVP and OLIO went live. Today, the groundbreaking food sharing app is helping save thousands of food items every week, with over 2 million members distributed across 54 countries. Saascha Celestial-One previously worked for American Express and McKinsey, and Tessa Clarke previously held Managing Director positions at Wonga and Dyson.
Maija Itkonen and Reetta Kivelä | Co-Founders, Gold & Green
When the idea of oat meat first came to designer Maija Itkonen, she knew that her longtime friend and acclaimed food scientist Reetta Kivelä was exactly the woman she needed and wanted to develop her product and build her business with. Though Kivelä admits to being sceptical about the initial idea, six testing months of scientific exploration later, the duo successfully developed what they had set out to create—Pulled Oats®, a plant-based protein alternative to meat that contains only five ingredients: oats, yellow peas, favaa beans, rapeseed oil and salt. Today, Gold & Green’s Pulled Oats® is an exciting product range that caters to a wide range of cuisines. Itkonen and Kivelä have since taken home a series of awards including Best Company Helsinki Region and CTO of the Year 2017 at the CTO Forum Finland.
Lynette Kucsma | Co-Founder & CMO, Natural Machines
In 2015, Natural Machines Co-Founder and CMO, Lynette Kucsma, was named as one of CNN’s 7 ‘tech superheroes’ to watch. Natural Machines is venture capital-backed and ranked in the top 5% of Fortune 500 FoodTech list. Before co-founding her award-winning tech company, Kucsma gained experience in a series of prestigious positions at established tech companies, including a 3-year stint as a Senior PR Manager for Microsoft. Today, the Barcelona-based US-native is helping revolutionise the food industry with Natural Machines’s 3D food printing kitchen appliance—Foodini. This innovative technology artfully merges IoT technology with Artificial Intelligence to print foods that are fully customised using natural, fresh ingredients.
Mette Lykke | CEO, Too Good To Go
Earlier this year, Mette Lykke was named one of EU-Startup’s top 50 most influential women in the startup and venture capital space in Europe. As the CEO of Too Good to Go, Lykke is shaping Europe’s food rescuing landscape together with her team of 600+ Waste Warriors. The pan-European app’s partner base comprises over 50,000 supermarkets, restaurants, bakeries, and hotels. These partners fill Too Good To Go’s ‘Magic Bags’ with food items that remain unsold. Customers can then, in turn, discover and purchase these via the app. Too Good to Go takes pride in having established itself as the world’s largest B2C marketplace for surplus food.
As a highly experienced businesswoman who is passionate about social change, Lykke regularly speaks at events on food waste, leadership, entrepreneurship, business for good, and navigating the world of startups and scale-ups. She previously founded Endomondo which she successfully sold to Under Armour back in 2012.
Ella Mills | Founder & Brand Manager, DELICIOUSLY ella
Over the past decade, Ella Mills has made a name for herself as one of the leading female entrepreneurs in and voices of Europe’s plant-based food movement. It all began back in 2012 when Mills started a personal plant-based cooking blog, Deliciously ella, after she was diagnosed with a series of medical conditions which persuaded her to rethink her lifestyle choices. Her highly successful blog generated over 130 million hits in just a few years, which then led her to develop an app—which would later go on to become the number one app in the UK’s F&B sector—followed by her first cookbook. Five years later, Deliciously Ella is an impactful and highly diversified brand that has published five cookbooks, expanded its app to encompass both recipes and yoga, opened a deli, launched a podcast, and developed its own range of food products. Since its founding, Deliciously Ella’s has raised £2.46 million of equity finance. Today, Ella Mills runs the company together with her husband and CEO, Matt.
Solveiga Pakštaitė | Founder & Director, Mimica
Mimica’s Founder and Director, Solveiga Pakštaitė, is an industrial designer by trade with a passion for user-centric, sustainable design. In 2015, Pakštaitė co-founded Fast Forward 2030, a network of entrepreneurs that promotes speculative models for enterprise and behaviours that will help deliver the UN’s SDGs, and has served on the board ever since. In 2017, Pakštaitė launched Mimica Touch, an exciting temperature-sensitive technology that indicates the freshness of foods. When customers run their fingers over Mimica Touch food labels, they can determine if it’s still safe to eat by the texture of the label—a smooth surface indicates it’s still good to eat, a bumpy surface indicates it’s no longer edible. Contrary to standard expiry dates, Mimica Touch technology relies not on worst-case temperature scenarios, but on actual temperature changes within a foodstuff’s lifecycle to measure its actual expiry date. This technology thus works to help improve food safety and reduce food waste.
Since Mimica’s founding, Pakštaitė has secured a number of prestigious awards including two Cannes Lions, MIT Technology Review’s 35 Innovators Under 35 Europe, and Beauhurst’s Top 10 Female Entrepreneurs Under 30 in the UK. Mimica has secured £1.38 million in grants and funding to date.
Daphna Nissenbaum | Co-Founder, TIPA®
In 2010, guided by the vision of bringing fully compostable packaging that is inspired by none other than Mother Nature herself into the world, Daphna Nissenbaum and Tal Neuman co-founded TIPA®. Over the past decade, the Israeli tech company has proven itself as a pioneer in the global food packaging industry and a leading manufacturer of compostable packaging. Since its founding, TIPA® has received a number of awards and acclamations, including being named as one of the World Economic Forum’s Technical Pioneers of 2019 and ranking second in the 2020 FoodTech 500. Nissenbaum regularly speaks at events and shares her vision with established media outlets to promote TIPA®’s circular economy message, practices, and products around the world.
Maxine Roper | Co-Founder, Connecting Food
With almost 30 years of experience in the food industry under her belt at big name brand houses, including Nestlé, Mars, Andros, and Avril, Maxine Roper is a reputable professional in the European food industry. Hailing from France, Roper co-founded Connecting Foods in 2016 together with Stefano Volpi. Their mission? To provide all consumers with reliable and transparent information to build a level of trust that is based on solid proof of promises. Their platform? Innovative blockchain and cloud-based technology solutions that certify food compliance in real-time and showcase brand transparency, from farm to fork. In 2020, amidst the global pandemic, Roper and Volpi successfully secured another round of funding, bringing their total funds raised to date to over 5 million Euros.
Chanyu Xu | Founder & CEO, her1
Guided by the vision of supporting women of all ages in all stages of life, Chanyu Xu seeks to support her customers holistically from within. Thus, her1’s beauty supplements are made from 100% natural ingredients that were selected to promote a healthy gut, and subsequently, healthier skin. her1’s nutrient-rich formulas contain functional foods, medicinal plants, and natural probiotics which replenish the body with vitamins and minerals. Xu is an experienced, Berlin-based entrepreneur who is passionate about women’s health, sustainability, and the food tech industry. Her previous business ventures include Eating with the Chefs, EatFirst, and EATÜBER.
Imagery: (1) (Top) Mimica, Natural Machines, Connecting Food, Olio, Too Good To Go, (Bottom) TIPA®, Deliciously Ella, Gold&Green Foods, her1 GmbH. | Videos: (1) Capital Conversation Episode 51: Olio Co-Founder Tessa Clarke, (2) AVP Thought Leaders' Talk by Maija Itkonen, (3) 3D Food Printing: Lynette Kucsma - TEDxHighPoint, (4) Mette Lykke, CEO of Too Good To Go: CBS Entrepreneurial Day 2017, (5) Ella Mills: Full Q&A - Oxford Union, (6) Inventors: Solveiga Pakštaitė - Mimica #Innovators35EU, (7) Daphna Nissenbaum, TIPA-Corp - NOAH18 Berlin, (8) Connecting Food's story by Maxine Roper (Co-Founder), and (9) Her1 – Gründerin Chanyu Xu „Heute würde ich die Dinge ganz anders machen“ | Gründerszene via YouTube