When you lead innovation efforts at the National Restaurant Association, becoming a mentor for the Techstars Farm to Fork initiative is pretty much a no-brainer, at least that’s how Perry Quinn sees it.
Quinn, the Association’s senior vice president of business innovation development, is one of 11 mentors helping Techstars educate restaurateurs on embracing disruption rather than shying away from it. The program kicked off in July.
The program provides startups with access to financial investment and mentorship. It has a worldwide network of more than 10,000 mentors, 2,700 investors and 1,200 alumni companies. In his mentorship role, Quinn offers advice and networking opportunities to help ensure industry successes.
“At the National Restaurant Association, we believe it’s important to support innovation,” he says. “Our industry is faced with many challenges. From economic to regulatory to technological issues, businesses must deal with many issues, and that doesn’t even include competing for customer traffic, loyalty and stomach share. You cannot be afraid to embrace the future. That’s why knowledge is power.”
David Cohen, David Brown, Brad Feld and Jared Polis founded Techstars in 2006. Last July, the group teamed up with industry suppliers Cargill and Ecolab to offer help and information on the tech/digital side of food and agriculture. Areas of focus include food safety, supply chain management, waste reduction and traceability.
In addition to Quinn, other Farm to Fork mentors include executives from companies, such as Cargill, Dishq, Ecolab, General Mills, Google and Microsoft.
“You must be willing to understand the changes taking place around you so you can find positive ways to impact your business,” Quinn says. “If you intend to grow, prosper and remain relevant, there’s really no alternative. That’s why Techstars is so important.”
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