Danielle Gould, Food Tech Connect, Woman Entrepreneur

Danielle-gould-headshotI have been following Food Tech Connect for quite some time.  If you are involved in the food industry at any level you should be getting their emails.  Food Tech Connect is a media and research company helping people understand the emerging trends in the food industry.  This platform has created a community for people on all sides of the food industry. Food is going through a major transformation from consumer products to organic farming to data to ecommerce to technology.  All of those categories are covered at Food Tech Connect through articles but also events that bring together the community at large.

Danielle grew up in Potomac, MD.  I lived in Potomac from 10 years old and on so that was kind of funny.  Both of her parents were entrepreneurs.  Danielle's Mom helped people with their life insurance, estate planning and philanthropic giving.  She says with pride that her Mom was turned down 12 times by New York Life to become an agent and she finally convinced them that a woman could do that job.  Her father owned his own advertising business that had a bend towards social ventures. 

Danielle did not go to the public high school I went to but to a private school where you graduate in February and then spend the next four months of your senior year in Israel.  First you go to Poland and then spend the rest of the time in a kibbutz.  It was her first trip abroad and it was an eye opener.  She returned after her travels and that September began college at the University of Wisconsin where she majored in sociology and environmental sciences. 

Like many others Danielle was bit by the travel bug.  She spent one college summer in Sri Lanka for a month with plans to return when she graduated.  Her mother begged her not to go after graduating and post-tsunami. She decided to follow her Moms advice.  She had saved some money and opted to go somewhere else.  She went to live in Argentina for three months and then took a turn and back moved to Israel.

In Israel Danielle worked for Friends of the Earth trying to get the lower Jordan Valley to be deemed as at Heritage Site.  She really wanted to get into the green space but at every angle found that she really needed a masters degree to break in.  Instead she also did a few odd jobs such as waitressing and starting up an organic cupcake company.  She found Israel tough.  It was not her native tongue and although she had some wonderful "adopted" families she found it hard to start in a business there.  She decided after 3 1/2 years it was time to come home. 

She came back to the NYC area because she her sister and cousin lived here.  She got into the New School taking classes in non-profit management during the day and waitressed at Budakan at night.  She still really wanted to get in to the green building area.  She heard about a six week program in Arizona around green building and opted to go.  Danielle says it was like living with a cult for six weeks.  Most of the people were architects and engineers but it was a wild experience.  The guy who ran it had been there since the 70s and had built a ecobuilding in the middle of the desert.  The city was literally built on a mesa.  The concept was to build a greenhouse down the mesa to grow food in microclimates .  The heat from that would be used to warm the city and then the waste would trickle back down into the soil.  She was blown away.  It was 2008.

Danielle returned to NYC passionate about getting into vertical farming.  New York Sunworks was opening up Brightfarms and she pushed them to hire her without a masters degree.  While she was there they got acquired and so after two years she left. Her old boss had asked her to start tweeting out the tech releases.  She thought this is so cool.  I do not have to pitch people but I can follow people and see what they are doing.  Her boss thought she was spending too much time on twitter so she started secretly tweeting under a different name.  She was just blown away by the information flow.  Research organizations were keeping all the data and information flow to themselves and that made zero sense to Danielle.  Nobody knew how many food businesses were being started in NYC if you don't share the info.  That is when she realized if you could scrape together all this information and create an organization/network to share all this information that it could be powerful.  As a sociologist and environmental science major she started thinking networks = interconnected webs.

Danielle began doing tons of research, going to meet-ups all around the city with anything connected to the green/food/tech world.  When the Greenpoint market was shut down she was hearing on the streets that local artisans were starting to create relationships with the restaurants.  She decided to put out a survey to collect the information and that is how Food Tech Connect began.  The first thing she did was put out an infographic on the food chain.  It went viral.  She realized that she was on to a powerful medium for spreading ideas.  She did not know anyone else who was thinking about the connection between food and technology so she started interviewing people. Danielle joined a Meet-up group that was started by Elizabeth McVay Greene and became a co-organizer.  Events started happening.  She got involved with the Open Government people and created a hackathon.  Soon things started to snowball and before she knew it she had built a readership and community around Food Tech Connect.

Danielle understands the eco-system of the food chain. She is not only putting out information she is putting on events around the transformation of the food industry.  She is hoping to provide the tools, content, connections and information around what the market needs.  They are focusing on connecting with founders and investors to increase the deal flow in the food space by having events, retreats, and forums.  Danielle took a birds eye view of an industry and figured out how to build a media business around it through engaging an audience hungry for a community and knowledge.