Common Ground Accelerator Launches First Cohort to Strengthen Food Resilience and Entrepreneurship
Updated: Aug 5
Common Ground Accelerator's focus is to create opportunity through agriculture by supporting a robust community of value-added producers throughout Hawaii.
Kauai's only business accelerator program, Common Ground Accelerator, announces it’s inaugural cohort of two local CPG producers that showcase the island’s agricultural bounty and entrepreneurial spirit. By creating local, regional and global market opportunities, Common Ground Accelerator will cultivate the next generation of Hawaii-based food and beverage entrepreneurs to establish Hawaii as a food innovation hotspot. Common Ground Accelerator cohorts will have the opportunity to scale their businesses and profits exponentially by turning raw agriculture into high value-added products
The two cohort companies were chosen from 30 applicants including beer and kombucha makers, a dairy, coffee roasters, tropical fruit and nut companies, canoe plant processors, a local food coop, and many other CPG goods, as well as a number of food technology companies.
“Common Ground Accelerator is the perfect tool to give value-added and agricultural producers in Hawai`i more opportunities and the incentive to scale,” said Adam Watten, co-director of Common Ground Accelerator. “Using our network, we aim to give local small businesses the resources they need to reach their goals. The outcome will inevitably be that more farmland in Hawaii will remain devoted to agricultural production.” This inaugural cohort consists of two Kauai-based companies: Tiny Isle and Slow Island Food and Beverage Co. Both companies will receive investments as well as 4-months of business development services. To optimize a launch pad for these promising entrepreneurs, a vibrant and diversified network of Common Ground mentors and advisors — from Kauai and around the globe — will provide subject matter expertise on topics ranging from tropical permaculture and regenerative agriculture to sustainable supply chain management as well as access to a global network of grocery buyers, online food retailers and customer bases on the mainland and beyond.
Tiny Isle, an ethically-centered, Hawaii-made CPG company that offers a range of macadamia nut butters, decadent fudge and tropical chocolate truffles. The company is headed by Lisa Parker and Roland Barker, who share a decades-long passion for good, healthful foods using locally sourced ingredients. Tinyislekauai.com
Slow Island Food and Beverage Company, a proudly Black-woman owned CPG company that currently offers wellness elixirs, drink mixes, and curry pastes all locally sourced. Founded by Master Preserver Gida Snyder. slowislandco.com Excellent article on Gida and her experiences being Black in the food industry here.
Co-Directors of Common Ground Accelerator
Adam Watten, co-director of Common Ground Accelerator, is a Kauai-based chef and entrepreneur. He has a decade of experience doing business in Hawaii and navigating its unique business climate. His extensive work with local producers and small businesses brings a specialized skill set to the program. Adam is committed to fostering small business and advocating for local food systems.
Brian Halweil, co-director of Common Ground Accelerator, is a New York-based food storyteller and trendspotter. Brian has been editor-in-chief of four Edible magazines in the New York metro area with a recent focus on technology and investments moving into the food chain. He now works with Almanac Insights and other venture funds focused on sustainable food and agriculture.
“We've got a unique opportunity to boost food, drink, and farm-related entrepreneurs in the state,” said Brian Halweil, co-director and portfolio manager of Common Ground Accelerator. “We can create a national reputation for Hawaii as a leader in food innovation. At the crossroads of America and Asia, Hawai`i-based food CPG makers are ideally positioned to meet the global demand for new flavors and farm-based products.”
About Common Ground
Common Ground Kauai is situated on 83 acres in Kilauea, Kauai, and formerly known as Guava Kai. Common Ground currently hosts the Common Ground Accelerator. Common Ground Kauai seeks to build a Food Innovation Center serving the island of Kauai. The Center is a place for food-centered work development. It will be a catalyst for economic diversification, food independence and a testing ground for product innovation. The Center is composed of four pillars: Farming, Accelerator, Incubator and Distribution. please visit commongroundkauai.com or instagram.com/kauaicommonground