My Food Job Rocks!
Ep. 239 - Building The New England Food Ecosystem with Lauren Abda, Founder of Food Edge, Branch Food, and Co-Founder of the Branch Venture Group

Ep. 239 - Building The New England Food Ecosystem with Lauren Abda, Founder of Food Edge, Branch Food, and Co-Founder of the Branch Venture Group

Before we get started, just wanted to let you know that this episode is sponsored by Food Edge, an online virtual summit taking place this week and I’ll be interviewing the founder of this digital summit today, but first, let’s hear a little bit more about this event from Lauren.

Use promo code "MFJRVIP" to receive 20% off tickets to the Food Edge digital summit taking place October 21-23rd, where you can choose to attend 1,2 or all 3 days!

So one of the PR people I worked with introduced me to Lauren Abda, Founder of Food Edge, Branch Food, and Co-Founder of the Branch Venture Group so I can help her talk about Food Edge on the podcast. Then the pandemic hit, that was delayed, and now they have a brand new online conference filled with great speakers and great resources.

So we circled back to talking about it and they offered to talk to Lauren. I always research my guests and I didn’t realize that Lauren was this super connector who knew like, every food company in new England. From my experience, knowing super connectors like Mark Nathan from Austin or Cynthia Maxey from San Francisco is the easiest way to get involved in a group of wonderful people.

How did Laura become a super-connector? By starting a meetup 7 years ago and building it bit by bit. Eventually, she was able to create money-generating revenue and had enough runway to connect full time.

So we also discuss how the pandemic has affected her specialty. Like everyone, events, conferences and connecting with people has been completely altered as the pandemic continues on but the good news is that there’s been a lot of adaption and a lot of innovation. Lauren talks about how her companies have adapted and how others have as well.

Disclaimer, my audio messed up! Maybe you might not notice it because of the editing but I recently bought a new sound mixer and forgot to plug it in to the software, blah blah blah. Rookie mistake! But that goes to show that even if you make rookie mistakes, you keep going. Even after 230 episodes.

Show Notes

Happy Lights
Boston Winter Survival
Branch Foods
Branch Venture Group
We’ve funded about 9 companies with around $2 million dollars
Atlantic Sea Farm – Saco, Maine. Seafood harvesting company
What States count as New England – Everything North of New York
Where do you live?: I live in Boston. I chose to live here because I went here in graduate school. I worked for the WTO and have a degree in food policy
What do you tell people who ask what you do?: I work with innovators who change the future of food
I have a degree in Food Science from the University of Vermont
Tufts University
Dan Barber was a graduate
Wolfgang Puck’s kids were graduates
Cell based research happens in Tufts
Dim Sum
I started the Branch Foods meetup group at 2013 just to network in the food industry.
I made the group to share ideas, and collaborate and it started to take off
Laura started a meetup in 2013 and just did events weekly. Eventually, made more events and was able to monetize
Coworkering space – Branch Food in partnership with Cambridge Innovation Center
How has the Pandemic affected your business: We realized there’s a lot of pain in the food industry because of this so we had to relieve the pain by connecting them to the community.
Serving Up Support
Food-Sol Babson
Branch Food meetup group
Greentown Labs
Mass Robotics
Labs Central
What tech is really fascinating in Boston?: Nori – an all-natural protective silk-based layer. Diversification of protein is very interesting
I’m excited to learn more about: blockchain and supply chain. Anything that makes things more sustainable
What resources helped you create Branch Food?: Omnivore’s Dilemma – it set people on the journey on what’s in our food. Food Inc.
The Art of Gathering
Mountains Beyond Mountains
Tufts program: Nutrition Communication
Food and Nutrition Bulletin Tufts
How do you recommend scientists branch out?: Science helps people think critically and takes the informationa t hand to make a good decision
You have the critical thinking skillset on what you want to do
Food science is broadly applicable and is a good foundation for every food company today
[email protected]
facebook, twitter, etc
Other ways to get involved
Venture Fizz
Green Horn Connect
A great way to start meeting people
Boston Public Market for meeting local vendors (Downtown)
Communal Kitchen
Stockpot Maulden Kitchen


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