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 consumer startups that are starting and scaling up.

About Erin Lenhardt

Erin has founded 4 companies and exited 2 of them. She currently lives in San Francisco, CA where she runs a boutique furnished rentals business (The Brighthouse) and mentors and coaches startup founders in the consumer space.

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. Norm’s Farms was acquired by INS in 2017.

Specializing in early and growth stage food startups, Erin has managed foodservice supply chains, conducted crowdfunding campaigns, participated in accelerator programs (including YCombinator), launched new products, and led company acquisitions. Through her work with food-focused venture capital firms, including the Sustainable Local Food Investment Group, Bluestein Ventures, and the Kirchner Food Security Group — and at her own consultancy, The Food Mint — Erin has worked with hundreds of food startups.

Erin holds an MBA from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business (2015) and graduated from Reed College (2008) with a B.A. in Religion. 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 startup events around the world.

Her latest venture has her focused on hospitality and vacation rentals, where she thinks about product placement and creating experience through space and place. The Brighthouse, the culmination of this thinking, was a near casualty of Covid-19. Erin is using her newfound time to collaborate with other entrepreneurs and is exploring what business to start next.

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