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  • Writer's pictureKevin May

#25 Meet the 2021 Innovation Fund Cohort - Part 2

Meet the founders of three of the companies in the Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste 2021 Innovation Fund Cohort.

Episode 25 Summary

In spring of 2021, The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation collaborated with Village Capital to help source, understand and unlock capital to support innovative solutions that prevent, recover and recycle food waste with the following mission.

“We seek to reshape the food system by supporting innovators who are elevating food to its highest use and disrupting the linear supply chain. This could include solutions such as imperfect produce lines, upcycled foods & meal kits, upcycled commercial ingredients and more.”

With nearly 150 companies applying, 10 were selected for the 2021 Innovation Fund cohort.

In this special Innovation Fund episode Part 2, we meet the Founders from three more of the companies in the 2021 cohort, Kathryn Burnell Founder of reBLEND, Matt Olsofsky Co-Founder of Take Two Foods, and Claire Schlemme and Caroline Cotto Co-Founders of Renewal Mill.

reBLEND interview starts at 03:35

Take Two Foods interview starts at 23:39

Renewal Mill interview starts at 44:53

Learn more about The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation

Learn more about Village Capital:



Kathryn Bernell

Founder of reBLEND

reBLEND began when founder, Kathryn Bernell was a time strapped grad student struggling to find ways to fuel her body with the foods she wanted to eat. After 14 years in the food industry she had learned to create her own high-impact smoothie shortcuts in the kitchen, and as she began to get requests from friends she decided to turn her hobby into a full time business. After graduation, she began self-manufacturing the product in a soup/sauce factory during their off hours, and hitting the streets at local farmers markets and mom/pop shops.

She wanted to double down on the high impact nature of the product by building out their food waste tackling mission, and started their reHARVEST + rePURPOSE platform. Through this initiative, reBLEND works with manufacturers and farmers to source, purchase, and use unnecessarily discarded and overlooked products and byproducts (think cauliflower stems) that would otherwise go to waste because they are not to cosmetic standards.

Learn more about reBLEND

Follow reBLEND on Linkedin

Connect with Kathryn on Linkedin

Follow reBLEND on Instagram

Follow reBLEND on Facebook


Matt Olsofsky

Co-Founder, COO - Take Two Foods

Matt Olsofsky is the Co-Founder & COO of Take Two Foods. Prior to Take Two, Matt was a Global Director at AB-InBev focused on implementation Management systems in Brewing Operations and Logistics as well as Smart Value Creation. Additionally, he has over 8 years of experience in Pharmaceutical R&D, Process Commercialization, and Manufacturing Operations. Matt is a graduate of University of Michigan (BSE), Columbia University (MS), and MIT Sloan School of Management (MBA).

Take Two is creating second chances for food, for people, and for the planet. We upcycle spent grain and transform it into versatile food and beverage products. Through upcycling, we aim to zero out food waste and champion circularity as the roadmap to a sustainable future. Take Two is a purpose-driven company founded on its core principles to: champion resources, deliver extraordinary results, and catalyze positive change. We are committed to building transparent and collaborative relationships with our team, stakeholders, customers and communities. Take Two offers a meaningful and energizing work environment. We are deeply committed to diversity, equity and inclusion. We are in the process of becoming a Certified B Corp.

Learn more about Take Two Foods

Follow Take Two Foods on Linkedin

Connect with Matt on Linkedin

Follow Take Two Foods on Instagram

Follow Take Two Foods on Facebook


Claire Schlemme

Co-Founder, CEO - Renewal Mill

Claire Schlemme is an ardent environmentalist who saw a need to fix a broken food system in order to protect the planet. Claire’s lifelong interest in food and nature began to intertwine when she was diagnosed with cancer in her early 20s. This experience made her passionate about understanding the links between food and health, both of our environment and our own bodies. She co-founded Boston’s first organic juice company with the aim to connect local farmers and city-dwellers through nutritious and delicious foods. This experience exposed her to two primary challenges: food waste and the lack of affordable nutrition. Committed to finding solutions at the intersection of food, sustainability, and accessible nutrition, Claire launched Renewal Mill. Prior to diving into entrepreneurship, Claire was an environmental consultant at Industrial Economics, Inc. in Cambridge, MA. She holds a BA from Wellesley College and a Master of Environmental Management from Yale University.

Caroline Cotto

Co-Founder, COO - Renwal Mill

Caroline Cotto is a food marketing and nutrition specialist with experience at the UN World Food Programme, the White House (for Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign), and the tech company HubSpot, where she ran the women’s diversity program globally. Caroline grew up in food, working for her family’s ice cream business in the town of Sandwich, MA. Fascinated by global food culture, Caroline served as a Fulbright Fellow in Taiwan, and she holds a BS from Georgetown University in human science with a focus on nutrition and international health. She also coaches thousands of students through Seth Godin’s global programs, altMBA and the Bootstrapper’s Workshop.

Learn more about Renewal Mill

Follow Renewal Mill on Linkedin

Connect with Claire on Linkedin

Connect with Caroline on Linkedin

Follow Renewal Mill on Instagram

Follow Renewal Mill on Facebook

Follow Renewal Mill on Twitter

Follow Renewal Mill on Pintrest


Meet all the companies in the 2021 Innovation Fund Cohort:

Watch for upcoming podcast special episodes featuring stories from each of these companies.

Hanford, CA

Agua Bonita makes ready-to-drink aguas frescas from upcycled produce, served in culturally inspired and recyclable cans. Learn More

San Antonio, TX

Grain4Grain uses patent pending technology to upcycle brewers spent grain into a low carb, high protein, high fiber flour. Learn More

West Palm Beach, FL

Husky Beverages features the healthy superfruit of coffee with a sparkling tea made from the “husk” of organic, upcycled coffee fruit. Learn More

Austin, TX

Journey Foods is a portfolio intelligence company that solves food science and supply chain inefficiencies with software to help companies direct more surplus food to those who need it.

Nyack, NY

Matriark Foods upcycles farm surplus and fresh-cut remnants into healthy affordable products for institutional foodservice, diverting wasted food from landfill while feeding communities healthy food. Learn More

Minneapolis, MN

NETZRO is a food tech platform for recovering industrial byproducts at scale that would otherwise be wasted into new upcycled ingredients. Learn More

Denver, CO

reBLEND is a line of frozen smoothie pops packed with fruits + veggies + superfoods and a bold mission to tackle food waste by re-harvesting produce that would typically be discarded.

Oakland, CA

Renewal Mill upcycles byproducts from food manufacturing into superfood ingredients and premium, plant-based pantry staples. Learn More

Portland, OR

Take Two is a plant-based food company that creates second chances by using Rejuvenated Barley™, upcycled spent grain from beer production, to craft our products, including a line of nutritious barley milks. Learn More

New York, NY

The Spare Food Co. is an upcycled food tech platform that creates foods and drinks using overlooked and unused ingredients sourced from growers and food processors.


Special thanks to our Sponsors and Production Team:


Upcycled Food Association -

Produced by Hi-Fly'n Productions

Executive Producer | Host: Kevin May

Associate Producer: Ashley Brown

Creative Development: Sue Marshall

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