RealFoodMBA was started by Erin Lenhardt in 2012 as she was trying to figure out how to marry her two loves for food and business. It has since morphed into a resource platform for food and agriculture startups that are scaling up.
About Erin Lenhardt
Erin is the founder and CEO of The Food Mint, an early and growth stage food startup consultancy. She specializes in early and growth stage food startups.
Erin started studying food in 2009. She began her career a year earlier as the Director of Business Development for a small biotechnology services company in RTP, NC. It was there that she discovered business as a tool to drive change. Because food has always been her passion, she co-founded Norm’s Farms in 2011 in order to begin transitioning her career to focus on the business of food and agriculture.
She attended The University of Chicago Booth School of Business from 2013-2015. There, she led Norm’s Farms through the Polsky Summer Accelerator program, where she designed and executed digital marketing and sales strategies that resulted in 2x revenue growth in only three months time. While completing her coursework at Booth, she worked part-time as an Associate with several food-focused venture capital firms, including the Sustainable Local Food Investment Group, Bluestein & Associates, and the Kirchner Food Security Group.
Through her work at The Food Mint, Erin has gained exposure to foodservice supply chains, bringing on new distributors, conducting crowdfunding campaigns, participating in accelerator programs, launching new products, and conducting customer interviews and research in order to improve product positioning.
Erin graduated from Reed College (2008) with a B.A. in Religion. She holds an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business (2015) with concentrations in Entrepreneurship and Strategic Management. She was a 2014 Kirchner Food Fellow and 2015 Chicago Council Global Food Security Symposium Next Generation Delegate and has served as a judge, mentor, panelist, and speaker at food-focused conferences and start-up competitions around the world.
About Peter Miller
Peter grew up on a farm in Kansas but his passion for food and agriculture led him to work on a sugarbeet farm in Germany, manage olive harvest operations in Israel, and partner in a beverage company in Romania. As Director of Corporate Strategy for an ag-focused private equity fund, Peter scouted new investment opportunities and led portfolio companies through aggressive expansion in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Ukraine, and the United States.
After moving to Chicago, Peter worked at The Hatchery, Chicago’s largest food-business incubator. There he consulted for early-stage consumer packaged goods companies and restaurant startups.
Peter holds an MBA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He served as a mentor for the University of Chicago’s Sustainable Food Enterprise Lab and is the chairman of the board of his local Ten Thousand Villages (TTV is one of the world’s largest and oldest fair trade retailers). He loves to work with mission-driven companies of all types.
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