A cash cook-off

mycookshelf_final (2).jpg"Hello, my name is Lonnee Hamilton and I am here to solicit seed funding for My CookShelf.com, a recipe-sharing site; it's Pinterest meets Spotify for food."

It is 8 PM on a cold night in early February. I am sitting in a swank law firm's conference room in a high rise atop 7th and Figueroa, watching aspiring entrepreneurs compete for hypothetical seed funding from a panel of angel investors. Founder Institute, an international business management academy for nascent start ups, organized the event.

Knowing that I encourage writers to launch their own media enterprises, my pal, Lonnee Hamilton, SoCal food writer and Saveur magazine contributor, has invited me to join her family and cheer her on. She won the pitch that night and is ready now for Round 2.

She's looking for seed funding for real this time and has just launched a campaign to garner enough votes to qualify for participation in an upcoming pitch competition for start up cash. Or check out the My Cookshelf Tumblr for info about an upcoming Sriracha recipe contest.

The other Founder Institute pitches were impressive: One woman wanted to build a pet food supplement business; another sought funds to expand her urban gardening site. Each project had some tech component, if not focus. One guy pitched an e-commerce site for customized eye-wear. A would-be entrepreneur had already launched a social network aggregator while another has plans for a new type of crowd funding platform.

Jeanine Jacobson runs the Los Angeles chapter and had prepared her students well. I admired each student's confident body language and poise. Lonnee describes the training program as a "Survivor for Startups." The graduates that night were already winners as they were the final six to graduate from a program that started with 24 students.


Speaking of local food media. Kudos to Taster Tots LA.com's Jessica Ritz who profiled mushroom purveyors, Kane's Family Farm, a regular at Southland farmers markets, in yesterday's issue of Tasting Table LA.

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