Vegan soup company aha Pure Foods, a resident client of UF Innovate | The Hub, a business incubator in the University of Florida business incubation system, is the 2018 winner of Cox Business’ Get Started Gainesville Business Pitch Competition.
Cox Business selected five finalists out of more than 40 local business applicants who pitched their businesses to a panel of experts in front of a live audience on Oct. 23 at the Florida Museum of History in Gainesville. The finalists included Palmetto and Pine, Qu Parking, Niekaab and Precision One Health. Pure Foods was awarded the grand prize of more than $27,000 in cash and prizes. The company also received the People’s Choice Award, as voted on by the audience.
Pure Foods is a plant-powered health food company spreading the philosophy that food is the “ultimate medicine.” It was founded by Naturopath Wayne Garland and Chef Alfie Crescentini, who decided to replace artificial ingredients, high levels of sodium and added sugars commonly found in canned soups with organic, “healing” whole foods that are rich with vitamins and minerals.
At the business pitch competition, Samantha Bove, CEO of Pure Foods, delivered a two-and-a-half-minute pitch describing the soup’s medicinal value, marketing strategy, expansion plan and current customer base. The soups are available through Lucky’s Market, Ward’s Supermarket, hospitals, independent grocers and doctors’ offices, as well as the company’s e-commerce website.
Pure Foods is seeking $2 million which will be directed toward improving capital equipment, expanding distribution, increasing the team and marketing and sales.
“Our soups are so popular we can’t keep them on the shelves, and if we can’t keep them on the shelves we can’t grow,” said Bove. “This prize allows us to continue our expansion and service more customers. To be able to utilize the resources of UF Innovate | The Hub has contributed greatly to our progress. We are also grateful for the ample support we’ve received from Cox Business and the Gainesville community.”
“This was another year of outstanding applicants and ideas,” said Harbin Bolton, VP of Cox Business in Florida and Georgia. “It’s always very encouraging to see the talent and entrepreneurial spirit coming out of the Central Florida area. I’d like to thank and wish best of luck to all of the businesses who participated this year and congratulate Pure Foods for rising to the top.”
Mark Long, director of UF Incubation Services, said, “We congratulate aha Pure Foods on receiving this award and look forward to their expansion. The company is an excellent example of how UF Innovate | The Hub offers entrepreneurs resources and support services that ably assist their growth and success.”
Pure Foods’ soups are currently available for pre-order in select states, in stores in select states and in stores throughout Florida. Its line of refrigerated soups include:
- Lion’s Mane—Adaptogenic mushrooms (including lion’s mane and reishi) pair together to reduce stress and boost cognitive function.
- Fire-Proof—Turmeric, ginger and root vegetables combine to benefit joint stiffness and inflammation.
- Lucky Bones—A plant-based bone broth alternative formulated with deep-sea minerals and 24 grams of plant protein per jar, designed to soothe the digestive tract and promote gut health.
- Sweet Chi—Butternut squash bisque made with bitter melon, yacon root and Thai spices combine to promote pancreatic health and weight management.