Spotlight on Mike Annunziata
Meet Mike Annunziata - Cornell alum, startup advisor, and founder of Farther Farms, which makes food with low-impact processing.
Tell us about Farther Farms.
Farther Farms is building the 21st century food company. Current food processing hasn’t evolved or scaled to meet the needs of the modern world. So, we’re creating a new category - Low-Impact Processing – food processing solutions that prioritize sustainable technologies and cleaner end-products in an effort to improve the food system and the consumers it serves. Our first technology, a process free from preservatives, chemicals, and reliance on cold chain infrastructure, is pioneering this new category. Low Impact Processing allows one to maximize the shelf life of end products without sacrificing their nutritional content, and simultaneously reduces the impact processing has on our environment. Leveraging this first technology, we've created a line of shelf-stable potato products, a crop responsible for a significant portion of the global caloric intake. You can find our first product, a never-frozen, sustainably sourced and processed French fry, available in restaurants beginning in early 2019.
You advise many early-stage startups. What is your best advice for young founders?
Young founders should place a relentless emphasis on understanding their target customer. Seek to define and understand the nuance of that customer. Once one understands that customer and their core needs, struggles and challenges, then capital can help build solutions to solve that customer need. Customers before capital, never in reverse!
Tell us about your involvement with Cornell.
I have been involved with Cornell in capacities as a student, employee, and alumni since 2007. I have seen it grow in the last 10+ years in so many exciting new ways, from the building of the Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island to the creation of the Cornell College of Business. I have spent the majority of my adult life in Ithaca, NY and it has shaped me. I've had the opportunity to learn here from world-class faculty, and help manage University resources as a member of the investment team at the Cornell University endowment. Now, with my work at Farther Farms, I'm helping to commercialize cutting-edge research conducted at the University and helping further its reputation as a leading research institution. To say my life wouldn't be the same were it not for Cornell is an understatement. Go Big Red!