Fall 2018
Ag & Food-Tech

Consumer demand for sustainable products, coupled with the desire to understand where those products come from, has created the need for technological advancements in the agricultural value chain.

Rural economies nationwide and around the globe are struggling to maintain their local food systems and reduce their dependence on fossil fuels, especially as extreme weather events become more prevalent. Vermont is a leader in the incubation and development of forward thinking food and energy businesses and is making a concerted effort to attract the next generation of climate friendly businesses to the state.

Consider some of the challenges and opportunities that we face in Vermont that are also applicable throughout the world:

Degraded water quality due to excessive phosphorus from a variety of sources.

We need new technologies that can be used to clean up impaired waters, extract excess phosphorus and repurpose it for other uses. We also need new soil monitoring, data management, and precision agriculture production technologies that can be used to improve soil health and/or water quality.

Supply chain management and traceability.

Due to new federal food safety rules and/or the need to be able to trace the sourcing of particular input attributes such as GMO-free, fair trade, and organic, new tools are needed to help food manufacturers source verify their inputs.

Food distribution in rural areas with small producers.

We need companies with innovative business models that can provide logistics support to local producers who want to reach larger markets.

Decrease overall energy usage to be more efficient and save money.

The agriculture and food manufacturing sectors are big users of fossil fuels and a lot of ‘waste’ heat that could be used for other purposes gets lost.  We need innovative energy technologies (e.g., compost heat recovery, next generation digesters, solar heat collectors) that can be of benefit to farms and food manufacturers in order to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, be more efficient, and reduce their expenses.

New market opportunities due to legalization of hemp.

Hemp can now be legally grown in Vermont and consumer interest in CDB products is exploding. While farmers are adding more acres of hemp production each year, Vermont lacks high quality processing and extraction infrastructure.

Opportunities to support universal recycling.

All over the country, communities are trying to decrease the amount of food waste that ends up in landfills. Collection logistics, materials management and processing, and new biodegradable packaging technologies are in increasing demand.

Who should apply?

Entrepreneurs participating in Accel-VT come from Vermont and around the U.S. and Canada, typically at a startup or seed stage of development. Companies with at least two team members, demonstrated market adoption in the form of a pilot or paying customer and some level of investment or grant other than founder capital are encouraged to apply.

Accel-VT cohort members will be selected based on their ability to use technology to help solve pressing agriculture and food system issues facing society. Participants are guided through a program designed by ecosVC to combine their Lens of the Market curriculum with VIRAL™ accelerator modules from Village Capital. The program is designed to test assumptions, expose and remediate business vulnerabilities, prepare for investment, and provide a platform for rapid scale.

The accelerator consists of three separate, four-day, on-site “sprints”, in the Burlington area (at the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream administrative office), with homework and webinars in between. As a result of our generous sponsors and partners, accommodations and meals will be provided at no cost. Cohort members provide their own transportation to and from Vermont for the three on-site sprints.


Accel-VT offers cohort members more than 35 hours of time with mentors, investors and potential customers?


At Accel-VT, we tap an innovative group of leaders who are subject matter experts and/or have deep entrepreneurial and investment experience, based on the needs of each cohort selected.

Joseph Steig

CFO, Long River Ventures


Joseph Steig is CFO at Long River Ventures, a seed and early stage venture fund. Long River is actively investing out of its third fund in New England and the northeastern United States with a sector focus on healthcare and enterprise IT. In addition, Joseph develops entrepreneurship curriculum and teaches in accelerator programs both in the United States and globally. He has worked in a diverse range of industries from aquaculture to Internet and has extensive consulting experience with universities and innovators on technology commercialization.

Joseph also serves on the Board of Directors of Greentown Learn, the educational non-profit affiliated with the world’s largest clean tech incubator, Greentown Labs. He grew up in Vancouver, Canada and went to Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. He now lives in Massachusetts. More information at www.steig.com.

Alex Arrivillaga

Manager, US Ventures – Agriculture at Village Capital


Alex Arrivillaga is the Manager of Village Capital’s US Food and Agriculture Practice. In her previous role at the firm, she supported and facilitated the US: Education 2017 program. She has also workedas an Associate on the VilCap Communites U.S. team. Previously, Alex worked as the Director of Development for Living Classrooms of the National Capital Region, a regional non-profit that lifts under-served communities out of poverty through hands-on education and job training programs. Alex was a member of the Teach for America Greater New Orleans Corps, where she taught Spanish at O.Perry Walker/L.B. Landry College and Career Prep and served as foreign language department chair. Alex received her BA from Tulane University in International Development and Spanish and holds an MBA from Columbia University.

James Macon

Co-Founder & Managing Partner at Closed Loop Capital


James Macon is a Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Closed Loop Capital, a venture capital fund platform founded in 2010 investing in agriculture technologies and food system innovations in the United States and Canada.  James has spent his career as a venture operator, investor and advisor taking a hands-on approach to corporate and financial design and management. Building on a foundation in financial services, technology and entrepreneurship, he has spent the past decade designing, launching and growing high-impact ventures and funds driving positive financial, social and environmental outcomes. In his work, James draws upon experiences from an array of industries including agriculture technology, food innovations, sustainable fisheries, healthcare finance, renewable energy and biomaterials.

Janice St. Onge

Flexible Capital Fund


Janice St. Onge is Deputy Director of the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund President and President of the Flexible Capital Fund (the Flex Fund). Janice brings economic and business development as well as financial expertise to the organization, having served in the technology and financial services industries, as well as higher education and state government sectors during the last 25-years. Early in her career, Janice served ten years at Peoples United Bank in Connecticut in retail management, commercial real estate lending (managing a $21 million portfolio) and organizational development roles.

David Bradbury

President, Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies


With over 20 years involved in capital markets, early stage technology firms and venture investing, David is deeply experienced with economic development, working with entrepreneurs on technology commercialization and business formation, early stage ventures, and business growth strategies. Since June 2007, David has served as President and CEO of the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET) which is an independent non-profit organization offering venture capital, co-working spaces, start-up mentoring and networking. In 2013, VCET was ranked #11 globally and #5 in the US by the UBI Index.  When not grabbing coffee with aspiring entrepreneurs, reading technology journals or learning to code, David is snowboarding, surfing and mountain biking with his family from their home base in Stowe, Vermont. His blog on entrepreneurship and technology is www.TechCrib.org.

Lawrence Miller

Five Vine Consulting, LLC


Lawrence Miller is an independent consultant operating as Five Vine Consulting, LLC. From 2014 through 2016 he was senior advisor and Chief of Health Care Reform for former Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin. From 2011 to 2014 he was Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development. Lawrence started his career as the founder and brew master of Otter Creek Brewing, in Middlebury, Vermont. After the successful sale of Otter Creek in 2002, he worked as an independent small business advisor. From 2008 through 2010, he was CEO of Danforth Pewter. Lawrence also supported the development of the Flexible Capital Fund and VSJF’s peer to peer advising services (then named the Peer to Peer Collaborative). He currently serves on the board of the National Bank of Middlebury, and has previously served on the boards of VSJF, the Vermont Economic Development Authority, Vermont Economic Progress Counsel, Clean Energy Development Fund, Vermont Brewers Association, and the Brewers Association of America.

Alison Hooper

Vermont Creamery


Allison Hooper is a pioneer of artisan cheesemaking, entrepreneur and co-founder of Vermont Creamery. For more than 34 years, Allison has been at the helm of the artisan cheese industry, introducing goat cheeses, cultured butter, and crème fraiche to the American palate. In 2012 she and her business partner Bob Reese started Ayers Brook Goat Dairy in Randolph Vermont to supply goats’ milk to the creamery and practice improved genetics, nutrition, and goat husbandry as a resource for aspiring goat farmers. A former president of the American Cheese Society (ACS) and the founding president of the Vermont Cheese Council, Allison has been a voice for U.S. cheesemakers and a mentor to fellow entrepreneurs in the specialty food industry. She was named one of the “most innovative women in food and drink” by Food & Wine and Forbes magazines in 2015. Vermont Creamery was acquired by Land O’Lakes, a farmer owned Cooperative. Allison’s family retained ownership of the Ayers Brook Goat Dairy.

Chris Fraser

Chief Revenue Officer,
Image Relay


Chris Fraser is Image Relay‘s Chief Revenue Officer where he brings deep SaaS industry experience, having been an early member of multiple successfully exited companies including CloudLock (Cisco) and Conjur (CyberArk). Prior to joining Image Relay, Chris was VP of Strategic Accounts (Sales) at [PLACE], where he built the early go-to-market team responsible for initial market positioning and growth. Before that he led enterprise sales at Conjur and global mid-market and SMB sales at CloudLock. Chris acts as a mentor and adviser for several early stage companies throughout New England as well as a Lead Mentor for Techstars NYC Accelerator. Chris himself is an alumni of Techstars NYC Accelerator and has presented at Finnovate NYC, Dallas Cybersecurity Summit and Cybersecurity International Symposium. Chris hold a bachelor’s degree from Bentley University, and holds black belts in 5 martial arts.

Cheryl Clements

Founder + CEO


Cheryl Clements is the Founder + CEO of PieShell a crowdfunding platform for food- and beverage focused companies. Cheryl has 20 years of installing ERP systems at Fortune 500 companies and brings that best practice methodology to early-stage entrepreneurs to help them grow and scale.


Jane’s Trust Foundation

Anonymous Donors

Mentors provided by

Accel-VT coordinates with mentors comprised of industry experts, successful entrepreneurs, business advisors and investors throughout the program. Cohort members work directly with mentors during the three sprints in addition to socializing with them at extracurricular social events as well as other business events.

More to come…