Tech to Table: Bytable is Changing How We Make Food Decisions
It hardly seems possible, but this time last year, we were preparing for our first XI Accelerator cohort. With applications open for the 2019 Accelerator, we caught up with 2018 alumni Jacy Rittmer and Brett Dugan, cofounders of Bytable Foods.
Jacy and Brett saw the opportunity to use their food and technology backgrounds to create a new kind of food system. We’re not talking the stuff of a Portlandia episode. We mean real and traceable information that supports quality producers and gives consumers the tools to make the right decisions about the food they buy and the companies they support.
Bytable sounds personal for both of you. Tell us more.
We are deeply concerned about the short- and long-term impact our current food system is having on humans, communities and our environment – and believe we have the tools and knowledge to help address the issue.
To that end, we spent the past year-and-a-half talking to food businesses about their problems, processes, hopes and dreams. You would be hard-pressed to find a food system tech company who has spent as much time as we have investigating the problems our food system stakeholders face. If we make it viable and scalable to run food businesses the right way, we will experience a positive ripple effect that will rebuild rural communities, keep farmers and animals on the land, restore soil health, slow climate change and make the world a better place for everyone.
Bytable founders Jacy Rittmer (left) and Brett Dugan (right) with Ranch Foods Direct founder Mike Callicrate (center) at XI’s 2018 Demo Day
People today expect more from their food providers – from restaurants to grocers. How are you using blockchain to increase transparency?
We believe blockchain and data-driven transparency for quality, sustainable and regenerative food companies can provide consumers what they want while supporting companies who are doing the right thing for their customers, animals and land, as well as our environment.
Blockchain is the common thread each of our service applications is built on. For companies using Bytable, the traceability data for their products would be accessible to consumers directly from codes on product packaging. Our applications include temperature and humidity monitoring, regulatory compliance and consumer-facing transparency, in addition to traceability. Bytable also can integrate with other traceability softwares and services, ERP systems, other distributed ledger technologies and existing software solutions to gather data throughout the supply chain without major changes to their business practices.
Outside of Bytable, what in the blockchain world has you excited?
We are most excited for when the hype around blockchain dies down and people stop talking about it and start using it. We believe blockchain has the capability to change many industries – from food to banking to pharmaceuticals – but currently the amount of hype around blockchain and companies using blockchain as a marketing tool instead of a technological tool is hurting the credibility of the technology.
You were part of XI’s 2018 Accelerator Program. What appealed most to you?
Our experience with XI was phenomenal. What appealed to us most about the program was always the people behind it. You simply don’t find people with the sheer passion, endless drive and impactful connections the XI team possesses. They will go to the ends of the Earth to make it work for their companies, and for us it has made all the difference.
And what still sticks with you today?
The mentorship and network we established during our time at XI is strong and still growing. We have close relationships with many of the people we met during the program, and they are regular parts of our company and our lives. For any issue that comes up at Bytable, we have two to three highly talented and very experienced professionals we can go to for advice.
Any advice for companies considering applying?
Hop on a call with Hannah or Vance, and they’ll get you where you need to be. Come into the program prepared to work, be your authentic self and never lose sight of what it means to build a good company.
Are you next? Applications for XI’s 2019 Accelerator are being accepted through mid-March.