TopSeedz is an Ignite Buffalo Winner!

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Food-focused operations made up nearly half of the grant recipients awarded by Ignite Buffalo judges earlier this month.

Ignite Buffalo selected 27 local small businesses to receive a combined $1 million in grants as part of a Facebook-funded program aimed at helping promising operations take their next step.

Small startups working on establishing urban farming programs, fermented foods and seed crackers were among recipients of the largest awards. Here's a closer look at some of the food businesses that hope to use the Facebook fertilizer to power them into their next phase, along with a year's mentorship through state startup incubator 43North, with help from M&T Bank.

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TopSeedz

A $50,000 Ignite grant also will be a game-changer for TopSeedz, the seed cracker company founded by Rebecca Brady.

The New Zealander lives in Clarence, where she moved with her Irish husband, William Brady, who works at Moog.

They're raising three children, 11, 13 and 15 years old. In her spare time, she started a company that sells crackers made from seeds, flavored with sea salt, cumin or rosemary, rolled out and baked to a crisp.

She started selling them in 2017 in Horsefeathers, then local co-ops, the Clarence Center Café, Squeeze, O3, and Salt.

Then she got into some area Wegmans and Whole Foods. Now demand has exceeded supply. In her rented kitchen, she must use "four little ovens in two rooms, and I'm running back and forth, rotating trays manually," Brady said.

"With this money, I'm going to be able to buy an oven the size of a small bathroom, and roll trolleys in filled with crackers, and the oven will rotate them," she said. "Another piece of equipment will roll the crackers out for me. At the moment, I'm rolling every cracker out."

She expects to able to produce 700 boxes of crackers a day instead of 350, and work more days.

Next to be pitched: Rochester-area Wegmans.

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Read the full article from Buffalo News.

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