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New York MilkLaunch dairy-startup competition announces four finalists

By Eric Reinhardt (


New York MilkLaunch, a new startup competition focused on “accelerating product innovation” for dairy products in New York State, has announced the four finalists for its inaugural competition.

The finalists include Pursue Happiness Cold Brew Cowffee of Union Springs; Slate and Superfrau of the Boston, Massachusetts area; and Karviva: Gold Sage of St. Louis, Missouri.

MilkLaunch seeks to “encourage entrepreneurs to introduce exciting new” dairy products for consumers to enjoy with the “ultimate goal of boosting dairy sales” in New York.

The competition included global applicants ranging from idea stage to existing new products with sales under $250,000, that contain at least 50 percent fluid milk and the “commitment that if they win that their milk will be sourced from New York producers for at least 12 months,” per a Wednesday news release.

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, the New York Dairy Promotion Order (DPO) Advisory Board, and New York City–based VentureFuel Inc. on Aug. 21 announced the competition.

VentureFuel operates the contest. The firm is described as an “innovation consultancy that builds accelerators and custom programs to futurize industries and corporations.”

“Our program includes mentorship from the president of Chobani to the top food scientists in the country to experts in packaging, marketing, retail and innovation,” Fred Schonenberg, founder of VentureFuel, said in a release. “We want to help these upstarts go from ideation to commercialization and become the type of success that delivers more demand for [New York] Dairy.”

The four finalists each will receive $15,000 worth of support for their new product and be enrolled in a customized mentorship program.

“The MilkLaunch competition has brought about some real excitement for the future of the New York State dairy industry,” New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball contended. “We look forward to the next phase of the competition, which will assist the finalists with important guidance and mentorship to start-up their businesses, and to hearing more about these innovative product ideas.”

The finalists will pitch a panel of expert judges on Dec. 8 in their pursuit of $150,000 in the MilkLaunch competition “to accelerate their new product in market.”


The finalists include Slate, which makes a “low sugar, higher protein” line of lactose free milks for everyone, “not just children.” The company will be developing two new flavors during the competition. The firm is headquartered in Boston but has been producing in New York since its operations started, a competition spokesman tells CNYBJ.

Karviva: Gold Sage, which makes wellness drinks, is also a finalist. “Inspired by ancient wisdom, backed by modern science, these wellness drinks infuse functional ingredients like turmeric and other minerals into [New York] milk to deliver a full range of health benefits,” as described in the release. The company is headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, per the competition spokesman.

Another finalist, Superfrau of Cambridge, Massachusetts, makes an Alpine-inspired electrolyte elixir, created by “upcycling surplus whey and infusing it with unique flavors like cucumber lime, lemon elderflower, and peach mango.” The product is also described as a “hydrating, protein and nutrient-packed recovery drink that promotes sustainability in the dairy industry.”

In addition, the finalists’ group includes Union Springs–based Pursue Happiness Cold Brew Cowffee. The company makes a dairy-based, “shelf-stable coffee drink with high protein, low sugar and added CLA Plus for increased health benefits.”

CLA is short for conjugated linoleic acid, a fatty acid found in meat and dairy that is believed to have various health benefits.





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