Wisconsin native Alex Tyink was an opera singer in New York City when he was inspired to start his company, Fork Farms. After working at a Brooklyn rooftop garden, he discovered the physical and mental health benefits of eating and growing one’s own food. Now based in Green Bay, Fork Farms has created a unique hydroponic growing system called the Flex Farm. This technology allows consumers to grow up to 394 pounds of fresh food a year, indoors and in just nine square feet of space.
Tyink, also CEO of the company, operates Fork Farms out of TitletownTech. With Flex Farms already in customers’ homes, schools, restaurants and other settings—including Lambeau Field—the company was ready to start searching for its first round of venture capital in order to grow.
WEDC program widens access to investors
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) operates the Qualified New Business Venture (QNBV) Program to help early-stage companies attract investors. If a company is certified as part of the QNBV Program, eligible angel and venture capital investors who make cash equity investments can receive a Wisconsin income tax credit of up to 25% of the investment’s value.
Fork Farms received its QNBV designation in April 2021.
“WEDC’s QNBV designation will provide Fork Farms significant lift to our organization's mission,” Tyink said. “It will aid us in growing our business and focusing on ways that we can create transformative social benefit. Overall, we believe their support of the local startup community is critical to building a vibrant Wisconsin state economy."
From the seed of an idea to strengthening the roots
In August, Fork Farms announced it had closed a successful $2 million series A funding round. The funding will allow the company to expand into new markets, continue developing the next generation of its Flex Farm products and hire more talent.
“Wisconsin’s business environment has helped Fork Farms grow significantly,” Tyink said.