Innovate January 2019

aha Pure Foods Grows their Mission with Cox Business Competition

Written By: Ellen Andreu, Photos by Steffanie Crockett

A terminal cancer diagnosis might’ve felt like the end of a chapter for naturopath Wayne Garland, but it was just the beginning. This life-changing news led to his dedication to learn more about food and medicine as he began his research on how foods can help fight diseases. He was able to combat his illness with the power of a healthy diet. By teaming up with chef Alfie Crescentini, they created a company to provide food with essential minerals, vitamins and medicinal herbs and spices.
aha Pure Foods has grown from a small table at the Haile Plantation Farmers Market into a big brand found at Lucky’s Market, Ward’s, Healthy Lisa’s and other health food stores and doctors’ offices in Florida.

With several different types of vegan soup, from butternut squash bisque to turmeric, ginger and vegetable soup, all of these soups combine ingredients to help with certain areas of the body. Some reduce stress levels, soothe inflammation and improve gut health, according to a press release. “Lion’s Mane” is one of the company’s soups loaded with lion’s mane and reishi mushrooms. Another soup called “Lucky Bones” provides deep-sea minerals and 24 grams of plant protein in a plant-based bone broth.

The founders of the company decided there needed to be a convenient, healthy food option that wasn’t overprocessed. Their products are sold in sustainable glass containers rather than plastic. Each soup is cooked in small batches with fresh, natural ingredients offering vital vitamins and minerals.

The winner of the 2018 Get Started Gainesville Pitch Competition, aha Pure Foods received $27,000 in cash and prizes and the People’s Choice Award from the audience. The event took place on Oct. 23rd at the Florida Museum of Natural History. Each company participating in the competition gave a two-minute pitch to a board of panelists. This pitch allowed the companies to focus on their public speaking skills and work on selling their brand and product to investors.

The CEO of aha Pure Foods, Samantha Bove, started her journey working on the marketing, customer service and expansion aspects of the company. She really wanted to create a brand that is as transparent and straightforward as their foods and ingredients.

Bove said she had been looking for competitions to get the word out about the company and their brand. Then she found the Get Started Gainesville Competition and was excited to be able to compete.

“The help and feedback that we have received after the competition has been really incredible. The entire team at Cox Business has been really devoted to making sure all of our needs are met,” she said. “The event itself was such a testament to the startup culture and growing entrepreneurship community that there is in Gainesville.”

Because of companies like Cox, small businesses are able to take the next step to grow and reach more people, she said.

“The whole team at Cox is completely devoted to see if our needs are met,” Bove said.

The biggest learning experience for Bove was public speaking and learning how to communicate the entire mission of the company in a two-minute pitch.

She believes people can start changing the way they eat now with these products, instead of waiting until they receive a diagnosis, when it might be too late.

“Our food system is inundated with processed, really toxic foods, unfortunately,” she said. aha Pure Foods is dedicated to breaking this trend of processed foods and giving people a healthy option that can benefit their health, energy levels and overall well-being.

The panelists at the event were Stephanie Bailes, executive director at the Cade Museum; Kevin Sheilley, the president and CEO of Ocala Marion County Chamber and economic partnership; Alan Chatman, the vice president and general manager of WCJB in Gainesville; Nick Banks, managing director of Front Street; and Nola Miyasaki, executive director for Outreach, Incubation and Women’s Initiatives at the University of Florida. The moderator was the executive director, marketing and sales operations for Cox Communications, Inc Murray Goldstein.

The competing companies were Precision One Health, Inc., Palmetto & Pine, aha Pure Foods, Qu Parking and Niekaab Desal, LLC. Precision One Health provides access to health education in an app that can help physicians communicate and illustrate complicated procedures with their patients. Palmetto & Pine offers a child care(?) service nearby while parents can work on their projects or studies at an internet lounge. Qu Parking is a parking app that allows people to rent out spots and find parking spots easily. Niekaab Desal offers sustainable solutions to portable water treatment technology.

aha Pure Foods took home the grand prize and won more support to further its mission of bringing convenient, healthy foods to grocery stores around the country. 

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