On “Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg,” Riana Lynn, founder of Journey Foods and the former Foodtrace Inc., talks about how technology, data, and automation can connect key players in the food system. “There are so many barriers and inefficiencies in our system today that boost up cost and reduce our accessibility to all these great ingredients from around the world,” says Lynn. “For me, its about not only creating data, but also creating partnerships that help us solve for a lot of these inefficiencies.”
Lynn’s Journey Foods fuses science and convenience to create micro foods—nutrient-dense snacks developed through technology and artificial intelligence. In her hometown Chicago, Lynn noticed a lack of healthy, nutrient-dense foods strained several communities. “It inspired a lot about how I thought about food accessibility and food systems improvement throughout the years,” says Lynn. The fruit bites not only provide higher vitamin and fiber levels, but also contain baobab: a nutrient-rich fruit native to Africa that comes from women farmers in Journey Foods’ model.
The company also maintains a data platform— Journey FoodsIO—that helps members like hospitals and wellness programs design micro foods for their clientele. The research and data models identify gaps in the global supply chain and track ingredients from farmer to consumer. “[Better data] is part of what needs to happen in the food system to make sure that everyone can benefit on both ends of the spectrum: from the farmers and the local environment that’s affected by the agriculture, and then the consumers,” says Lynn.
As part of the founding team of Women Tech Founders, a collaborative organization that empowers women in technology by connecting them to advisors, investment opportunities, and support networks, Lynn believes women-led companies are key to solving their community’s problems. “We women have very good ideas and we can run very efficient, fast-growing companies,” says Lynn. Yet in Chicago, women founded 30 percent of companies but receive less than five percent of venture capital to grow and support their companies. “Supporting one another is so valuable to make sure we’re making change within our communities and for the future of creativity,” says Lynn.