Like last year, we’ve surveyed the field to see the most active investors in the space, and are sharing that data publicly. Our goal? Help startups and investors understand the foodtech investment landscape, and shout out the leaders funding the future of food.
💯 In all, we identified 106 noteworthy investors. They’re a mix of foodtech-focused VCs (47%) or crossover VCs (33%), with some corporate funds (12%), accelerators / incubators (5%), and syndicates (2%).
👩 34% of this year’s funds are female-led, about the same as last year (32%), though is higher than the 15% of European VC general partners who are women. In the broader venture industry, women represent 43% of directors and principals, but only 18% of GPs.
🌎 Most of our profiled investors are based in EMEA (55%), though the USA (32%) is the most active individual country. 9% of our investors are APAC-based, and just 2% are in LATAM.
↔️ We see a wide spread of investment activity, with a median of 4 deals per investor but an average of 8.3. The median check size is $1m (though the average is $2.8m, as larger checks pull the mean up).
Sources: FoodHack, Crunchbase+, Dealroom
It’s not a simple year to be raising or investing. So let’s take a look at who’s out there –– after a quick recap on total investment volume and trends we’re observing as we put a wrap on 2022.
Foodtech deal volume is down significantly this year after peaking in Q3 2021. Per Dealroom data, total $ volume decreased 65% in Q3 compared to 2021 –– a massive hit, to say the least.
The downturn was most extreme in the near total absence of ‘megarounds’ like Infarm’s $200M Series D in Dec 21 or Gorillas’ $1B Series C in October 2021, largely meant to fuel continued rapid growth before an IPO or serious M&A activity.
Since Russia expanded its war in Ukraine in February, enough market uncertainty has chilled IPOs and large acquisitions (while valuation multiples sank), meaning the top-dollar investment rounds have all but vanished.
In Q3 2021, there were 490 foodtech rounds < $4m (pre-seed and seed), according to Dealroom. In Q3 2022, there were 422. That 14% decrease is certainly meaningful, but the VC dropoff is so far concentrated on later-stage larger rounds. Those large rounds (>$100m) made up 60% of the Q3 2021 deal volume (in $), but are just 31% of Q3 2022’s volume.
Sources: Crunchbase+, Dealroom
There’s less cash and more caution than there was a year ago, thanks to fiscal policy, inflation, and general uncertainty. Investors have enjoyed an unprecedented 13 years of growth-minded fiscal policy, with policymakers keeping interest rates low and pumping money into markets through the pandemic. But as demand peaked in 2021, supply fell apart. That, combined with the destabilizing effects of Russia’s war in Ukraine, drove runaway inflation (which happens when there’s too much cash for too little goods).
In response, policymakers cranked up interest rates to pull money out of the economy and temper inflation. Inflation is easing and employment remains strong, but in my opinion, the downswing is just getting started.
2019-2021 saw an influx of new investors flocking to foodtech, largely VC funds previously focused on high-margin software products or new players without a specific investment thesis.
With low interest rates and lots of cash, these crossover investors largely saw foodtech as an exciting and high-risk asset class (with a climate-friendly halo effect), following the scent of high-profile companies like Beyond Meat.
Now, with high interest rates, cooled growth, modest valuation multiples, and few blockbuster IPO success stories, these crossover investors pulled back from foodtech. The loss of that capital is painful (and will hurt through 2023), and we’re not sure if or when the space will see this kind of outside interest again.
However, we do see the most active investors are staying active in the space. Of our 25 most active investors last year, 12 have increased their investment volume, while 13 decreased. This year’s top 25 made 63 more investments than in 2021.
🥇SOSV: with 56 investments this year and over $1.5B in assets under management, multistage VC SOSV’s portfolio grew this year to include companies like UPSIDE Foods, Milk Moovement, and NovoNutrients.
🧑🔬 FoodLabs: Berlin-based FoodLabs backs a range of leading foodtech startups across the entire foodtech value chain, including alt protein (Bosque Foods), vertical farming (Infarm), delivery (Gorillas), and consumer tech (mitte). 47 investments in 2022.
💡Big Idea Ventures: alt-protein fund and accelerator Big Idea made 48 investments (including 36 new investments) this year in startups like Animal Alternative, MeliBio, and Minutri (Lypid) via their $50m New Protein Fund. Based in NYC, Paris and Singapore.
🍃 S2G Ventures: with 45 multi-stage investments (including 18 led and 9 co-led) this year, Chicago-based S2G invests across food & ag with new investments in Atomo Coffee, Sound Agriculture, and Soli Organic joining a strong portfolio including Everytable, sweetgreen, Beyond Meat, and Apeel Sciences.
🤘Rockstart AgriFood: investing to improve our food system ‘from soil to gut,’ Rockstart has inked 42 investments this year in startups like MoooFarm, Orderlion, and Fieldsense.
🌎 Siddhi Capital: with excellent operational and outsourcing experience under co-managing partners Melissa Facchina and Steven Finn, Siddhi Capital invested in 35 startups like Ark Biotech, Liberation Labs, and Melibio to expand a strong portfolio including Magic Spoon, BlueNalu, and Beyond Meat.
🥕ProVeg: 30 investments via ProVeg Incubator under the ProVeg International NGO. Strong track record and focus on reducing consumption of animal-based products, with new investments in Libre Foods, Cultivated Biosciences, Bifidice, and ØZERS.
🌱 AgFunder: 30 investments across their accelerator program and impact fund, including 25 new investments. Highlight investments include Black Sheep Foods, Mooji Meats, Reel Seafood, Umaro Foods, Faeth Therapeutics, and Yeap Proteins.
💜HackCapital: with 24 investments, HackCapital’s 2022 investment highlights include Plantish, Hyfé Foods, Arkeon and Forsea Foods. Unlike other VCs on the list, HackCapital operates like a syndicate with a global group of climate-focused investors participating in rounds together, offering startups access to a wider group of angels & advisors, without cluttering the cap table.
🟦 Blue Horizon: Zürich-based foodtech VC Blue Horizon made 23 investments this year in pre-seed and growth companies like Atomo Coffee, Planetary, and Nucicer. Portfolio includes plant-based, cultivated meat, and synbio startups like Planted, Mosa Meat, and Geltor.
🌊 Astanor Ventures: Astanor’s 23 investments this year include Umiami, Planetary, and Source Ag, across regenerative food, ag, and ocean products. Prior investments include Stockeld Dreamery, Apeel, and Ynsect.
🧠 Gullspång Re:food: 21 investments from €5-10m in startups like Agreena Aps, Mission Barns, and Everytable, joining a portfolio including Oatly, and Planted.
🧑🌾 AgFunder: VC platform AgFunder added 18 investments with check sizes up to $1.8m, backing startups like Black Sheep Foods, Nom Nom Nom, Mooji Meats, and Reel Seafood. Diverse portfolio across food and agtech includes MycoWorks, Bear Flag Robotics, and Jüsto.
🌐 Döhler Ventures: the corporate VC’s 18 2022 investments include Clean Food Group and Willicroft, focused on nutrition, plant-based, and ingredient tech. Portfolio includes Lyre’s spirit co, Mighty pea, and Vrai.
🌉 PeakBridge: with check sizes up to $5m, PeakBridge’s 18 investments this year include Rival Foods, Standing Ovation, and Forsea Foods.
🇳🇱 DSM Venturing BV: the Dutch multinational’s venture arm made 16 investments and led 13 deals this year, averaging $2m check sizes. Startups include Phytolon, DouxMatok, and Sun Genomics.
🧫 CPT Capital: with 15 investments this year, the London-based family office added startups like Equinom,Liberation Labs, and Bright Biotech to a strong alt protein portfolio including Upside Foods, Impossible Foods, Redefine Meat, and Aleph Farms.
🌱 Sustainable Food Ventures: SFV invested in Loki Foods, Tiamat Sciences, Prose Foods, and Mati Foodsamong others in their 15 investments this year, writing checks from $50k to $150k.
🤝 Collaborative Fund: 14 investments this year (leading 5) including MeliBio, Hoxton Farms, and Mori.
👍 Good Startup: Singapore-based alt protein fund with 14 investments this year, like Avant, Omeat, and New School Foods.
🧪 E²JDJ: with a strong upstream & scientific portfolio, the New Orleans investor wrote checks to 13 startups including Aigen, Vori, Verdant, and Wicked. Also in their portfolio are companies like Good Catch, NovoNutrients, and Seed Health.
📍Lever VC: 13 investments in 2022 from Hong Kong-based and alt-protein-focused Lever, including Melt&Marble, THIS, Mozza Foods, and Avant Meats.
🛣️ Trellis Road: founded in 2020, Trellis Road has a growing and strong portfolio of $200-$500k global investments. This year’s 13 checks included NuCicer, MicroTERRA, and Project Eaden.
🌾 Unovis (New Crop Capital): a longtime leader in alt protein investment (previous investments in Oatly, Miyoko’s, and Beyond Meat), Unovis inked 13 new deals this year (leading 6) with checks ranging from $500k to $10m. This year’s startups include Paragon Pure, Plantish, and Tender, with follow-ons for Black Sheep Foods, Eat Virgin, and NUMU Cheese.
🔬Thia Ventures: writing 12 checks from €500k to €3m, the European investor backed Arkeon, Gourmey, Synonym and Bond Pet Foods this year.
🚀 Y Combinator: the US-based tech startup accelerator made at least 11 agrifood investments including Mooji Meats and Positive Food Co.
*Quick disclaimers: all data is sourced from FoodHack, CrunchBase and Dealroom. As data on total funds deployed is hard to come by, we made the list based on total deals closed - meaning that the list clearly favours early stage investors. The list would look very different when you factor in total volume deployed. If you have updated data on your fund, please feel free to email us at Laura (at) foodhack (dot) global. And if your fund is missing, you can add it here
Get instant access to the data on FoodTech's top investors here.
Look out for our next article featuring many of these VCs to read their prediction and see what they're excited about in 2023.
There are some incredible VCs out there, but there are also some terrible ones. FoodHack asked founders to identify the best FoodTech investors to work with.
And now we can spill the beans
Sharing industry expertise, support with fundraising and recruitment, and unlocking connections to the industry can be just as valuable as the investment itself for many early-stage start-ups.
So we asked founders: Which VCs truly go above and beyond? 📈
Over 110 different VC funds were mentioned on cap tables, wishlists and, in a way, blacklists.
Let’s see who came out on top...
As the winners were crowned live on stage today at FoodTechIL.
Mission: Supporting purpose-driven entrepreneurs who are solving systemic challenges to planetary health.
20+ investments including: Planet A Foods, Planetary, Hier Foods, Vosbor, Hoxton Farms, Orbillion Bio, Juicy Marbles, Concert Bio and Root Global
🧑🏫 1-1 coaching
🤝 Introductions to corporates and investors
📊 Support with valuable market research data
🎯 Guidance on fundraising strategy
🔍 Identifying potential advisors
"At Nucleus it is our passion to support purpose-driven entrepreneurs working to rebuild our global economy in a greener way from the bottom up to enhance planetary resilience. We are most excited about founders with deep domain expertise and creative ideas, supporting them at the Nucleus of their journey!" Maximilian Bade, Founding Partner at Nucleus Capital
Mission: Backing the most ambitious entrepreneurs tackling key challenges across the entire value chain of the food industry.
40+ investments including: Formo, Bosque Foods, MushLabs, Infarm, Sundial Foods, Tupu, Microharvest, WNWN Food Labs, Foodji
💸 Fundraising support for future rounds
📚 Coaching from FoodTech leaders
👋 Introductions to other investors
🤝 Connections to industry experts
💼 Professional recruiting support
"A big thank you to FoodHack and all the FoodTech entrepreneurs. Today, more than ever, we clearly need a food revolution and even more so, we need creative pioneers that are at the very forefront of innovation in the world's largest industry – pioneers like FoodHack. At FoodLabs, we’re strongly convinced that entrepreneurs, technology and science will be pushing the boundaries for a more sustainable food system. And we’re beyond excited to be working with mission-driven founders driving positive impact for the decades to come," Patrick Huber, General Partner at FoodLabs
Mission: Investing in purpose-driven entrepreneurs with a shared vision for a well-fed and sustainable world.
40+ investments including: Nobell Foods, Nova Meat, Upside Foods, Meati Foods, Oatly, Plantish, SuperMeat, Miyoko’s Creamery, Beyond Meat, Atlast, Aleph Farms
🤝 Connections to other investors and industry partners
💡 Instrumental in strategic decisions
📈 Advice on fundraising, retail targets and food service growth
🔬 Industry expertise and know-how
👋 Introductions to manufacturers
"Our sincere thanks to FoodHack and all the food entrepreneurs. Unovis applauds the visionary individuals driving change in the global food system and considers it a privilege to play a part in this transformation," Dan Altschuler Malek, Managing Partner at Unovis (New Crop Capital)
Yes, investors hold the key to a startup’s next fundraising milestone, but beyond investment, the value of knowledge-sharing and support for the founder(s) shouldn’t be underestimated.
Fundraising is hard. Let's all give founders the support they need, so they can get back to building the future we all want to see.
It’s time: you’ve got your gazillion-dollar idea on the back of a napkin (or more likely on a Google doc) and you're now ready to go all-in on the startup life. But are you sure you can do it alone?
Enter the cofounder: something between a business partner and a spouse, here to round out the leadership team, support with critical skills that you're missing, and set your startup on the path to success.
True, cofounders aren’t required. In fact, over half of startups exit with just one founder. And some of foodtech’s biggest names are solo-founded, including both Beyond Meat (Ethan Brown) and Impossible Foods (Patrick Brown).
But most foodtech startups require a magic mix of expertise behind the wheel: test tubes and spreadsheets, sales plans and flavor wheels, websites and pitch decks. It’s very rare for one person to have everything it takes to take an idea into a successful business, and early-stage investors know this, typically choosing to back teams rather then solo founders.
But choosing the right cofounder is tricky, and it’s damn important. According to Harvard prof. Noam Wasserman, a whopping 65% of startups fail due to conflict among cofounders. Ouch. So this week, we’re looking at how to find your ideal cofounder match along with some real, weird and wonderful examples from the community.
Finding a cofounder can feel like choosing the other half of your brain. Boostbar CEO Pascal Uffer recommends asking, “are you both blind in the same eye, or truly complementary?” and "what happens when 💩hit's the fan".
That’s what a good working relationship is all about: rounding out the founding team’s profile so that you’re able to handle the (many) challenges your startup will face along the way and being able to stick together when things (inevitably) get tough.
In foodtech, a well-rounded startup will look very different based on what you're building. A new eGrocery platform might mean pairing a growth marketer who can mock up a quick landing page, with a retail supply chain expert who understand the market needs and white spaces. For an alt-protein startup, it could be a fermentation specialist who will make the first prototypes a reality, with a sales wiz who knows how to best position the company to potential investors.
Typically, winning foodtech founding teams include a mix of 1) technical and scientific expertise 2) business development, marketing, branding and sales abilities 3) logistics, processes, admin, regulatory and legal know-how.
If you're dealing with cutting-edge science or new technologies, technical know-how in the early days is highly recommended. Otherwise, the pressures to exaggerate the science or scalability of the business can tank the whole mission - a common problem for biotech startups, and also the case for many of the more scientific segments of foodtech.
And finally, as important as complementary differences are, it’s also vital that the founding team is 100% aligned on your core mission as misalignment slows your go-to-market, reduces team buy-in, and overall, slows innovation.
We asked founders where they met their cofounder match, some of the interesting responses included dating apps, former clients and customers turned cofounders, father and son teams or spouses turned business partners. Here's a closer look at a few:
🏫 Universities. Universities provide an ideal setting for founding teams to meet, connect over like-minded interests and start working in a low-risk environment. The idea and team for Swiss plant-based startup, Planted first began at the ETH university in Zurich, and universities like Harvard and Stanford have been the meeting point for founders at Facebook, Google & Microsoft.
👪 Personal Network. Friends from high school, siblings, parents, friends of friends, spouses. We’ve heard it all. With the long hours and ample stress that comes with founding a company, ensuring you actually get along with your cofounder is an absolute must. Looking at the people who you already spend the most time with can be a good place to start. One Planet Pizza was founded by father and son team Joe and Mike Hill, and the Wonderlab Doozy founders are actually husband and wife team, Kristen and Karl Sutaria (talk about commitment).
💡Startup and pitch events. Getting yourself and your idea out there early on through startup and pitch events is another great way to meet with potential cofounders. Search for ‘pitch events near me’ on Google, attend relevant meetups in your industry, join Clubhouse pitch events or look for networking and mixer sessions by accelerators and funds in your domain.
🤝 Professional Network. Whether it’s a connection on Linkedin, a former client turned cofounder, a colleague at your job who's looking for a change of pace, or a fellow coworker at a desk near you - take a look into your rolodex or immediate work surrounding to meet with other, likely skilled professionals, who share a passion to build. Andreas Duss of Boreal Botanical highlights that his now co-founder, Mike McKenzie was a former client of his, and the founding team at Zurich based Wood & Field met through their former workplace.
💻 Platforms. There's a rising number of startup matchmaking platforms looking to solve this problem and spur innovation. The founders of plant-based pet food startup, Omni, met through a website called Work in Startups after co-founder Shiv Sivakumar put out a call for applications via the platform. YCombinator’s Startup School, cofoundme, CoFoundersLab, and StartHawk also all boast solid success stories of winning teams meeting their match.
🙏 Divine Intervention. Sometimes, life just brings you together. The idea for UK-based VFC came when Matthew Glover, the co-founder of Veganuary, tried Adam Lyon’s vegan chicken dish at his omnivore restaurant. And the founding team at Dubai-based, Sprout was cooked up when co-founders Oz Erbas Soydaner and Katerina Papatryfon, meet whilst walking their dogs. So keep an open mind, maybe that jerk who just cut you in line could one day be your future sparring partner 🤷
Great, you’ve now found your dream cofounder and are ready to get to work. But first, let’s put that relationship on paper and formalize the equity setup. Usually, this step happens right after incorporating –– as founders typically have endless to-do lists, this tends to get left to the last minute, but should really be a top priority.
Every startup’s structure is unique, but there are a few best practices to keep in mind:
🥧 Avoid 50/50 splits. They sound fair, yes, but can create corporate deadlock in decision making later on. Of course, the minority cofounder faces greater uncertainty and can be forced out by the majority party –– but the initial responsibilities and risk often point to one cofounder taking a larger share. Some disagree with this tip (including YCombinator’s managing director), and European startups do skew more evenly. But we still think it’s best to avoid the risk of deadlock down the road. Here's a helpful guide that might help figure out the best split.
🕒 Vest founder shares. Which simply means setting a specified time period or event where founders can keep all or a certain percentage of their stock shares. A four year vest is the norm and it helps to ensure somebody doesn’t take a big piece or end the business if they leave early on - leaving the other founders in an awkward situation.
💰Build a buyout plan in case a cofounder ends up leaving the company. That includes pre-setting expectations that if a founder leaves during their vesting period, the company can buy back the shares. The share price of the buyback is sometimes pre-set to a nominal fee (i.e. $0.0001 per share), or it can be calculated based on a fair market rate.
Finding a cofounder is a critical and challenging step in your startup story. But as is true with much of the hustle, it’s actually ok to take your time. A few months without a cofounder with you at the wheel is way better than shacking up with the wrong person.
As you start your search, get the word out. Post your story on LinkedIn, attend events, put yourself out there, grab coffee with people who have what you’re missing. Founders often have the impulse to go fast, go alone, and go in secret. But if your idea is solid, then nothing is more important than executing it with the right people.
And if all else fails, drop us a line with what you're building and who you're looking to connect with and we'll see if we can help. No promises.
Passionate, smart, gritty-as-hell, sure –– but no founding team is capable of solving all of the many problems a startup will face. And the best teams will be honest about what they don’t know, and ask for help.
Enter the startup advisor. They’re a pillar of expertise, sounding board for great (and bad) ideas, and a channel for key introductions to partners, new hires, and investors. It’s a flexible concept, but generally advisors round up the strengths of a founding team with deep domain knowledge and a set of outside eyes for the startup.
p.s. looking for an advisor or looking to advise startups? Fill in the form here and we'll let you know when we've found a match
Advisors have relevant experience and a useful network they share to help startups navigate their early growth. Every advisor relationship is unique, but generally an advisor has two or three focus areas they can help with (i.e. fundraising, partnerships, marketing, sales strategy, or manufacturing). An advisor might be….
Typically, advisors only support a handful of companies (at most) as a side gig, with the exception of ‘exited’ founders or semi-retired professionals who spend most of their time advising.
Generally, an advisor is good at whatever your founding team isn’t. In foodtech, founders are often knowledgeable about a technology (i.e. fermentation, alt proteins, crop health) or skill (product marketing, sales). Or, they’re a business wiz with an MBA and an understanding of how good businesses operate.
But no matter how passionate and smart your founding team is, there are always going to be challenges you’ve never addressed before. Advisors know these challenges and can help you avoid common mistakes and think through problems. Their support usually comes in the form of:
🧠 Expert guidance: strategic support navigating core business challenges
👂 Sounding boards: a collaborative sparring partner to work through new ideas.
🤝 Key intros: an open rolodex of possible customers, distributors / manufacturers, and investors.
💵 Fundraising credibility: a “we’re serious!” stamp for investors, demonstrating external, expert validation for the startup’s idea.
The engagement looks different in every case, but typically is a more agile “hotline” relationship between the founding team and advisor, as well as standing check-ins.
Many startups also engage several advisors together into an Advisory Board. This structure helps keep the founding team accountable and pools expertise.
To identify where an advisor will make the largest impact, startups should first take an honest look at their strengths and weaknesses –– a classic SWOT analysis is a great way to map what help you need.
With that in mind, get the word out to your network.
We also asked a few founders for their tips on this topic, including Peter Schatzberg, CEO of Sweetheart Kitchen(multi-brand cloud kitchen), who tells foodtech founders “don't limit yourself to looking for advisor(s) in foodtech or from VCs / funds,” and recommends looking for “a seasoned veteran from an international corporate enterprise.”
Schatzberg believes an advisor from a corporate setting offers “expertise driving for profitability, creating process and controllership, and learning how to lead. You know your domain, you are the startup person. So surround yourself with people that balance the equation.”
We also know there’s a huge appetite for mid-tier corporate leaders who want to get involved in food innovation and startups –– if you’re a startup with some connections working in Big Food & Big Ag don’t be afraid to drop a DM and ask if they know anybody who might help.
💡 Looking for an advisor fill in the form here and we'll let you know when we've found a match
Finding advisors is all about who you know. And where better to meet your match then at this years FoodHack Summit
With 500 industry attendees joining, from scrappy and venture-backed startups to big name VC funds, multinationals and seasoned founders, you're sure meet your match.
Grab one of the last few remaining early bird tickets here and use code NEWSLETTER-10 for a discount at checkout.
First, become an expert in a problem startups need help solving. Advisors aren’t just a friendly face –– they have real-world experience to offer.
With that, make it clear what your expertise is on LinkedIn. Engage regularly on topics that interest you and include your interest area in your headline (i.e. “Operations Director interested in food innovation & advising startups”).
Then, start approaching startups in the areas that interest you, noting the near-universal truth that startups love talking about what they’re doing. Ask for a 30-minute Zoom coffee with founders and see what challenges they are facing, and if it’s something you can help with.
🧠 Looking to advise startups? Fill in the form here and we'll let you know when we've found a match
Advisors are usually paid with one of the following:
🥧 Equity. Depending on the startup’s size and stage (and the advisor’s scope), startups often give an equity stake a 0.25 - 1% to the advisor. Provides a strong incentive to the advisor to actively support the startup in hopes of a growth in their share value.
💵 Cash. While challenging at an early stage, fees for advisors can be a highly effective and efficient investment, expanding your team’s brain power and expertise without shelling out another salary.
So, how much exactly?
It is common to calculate compensation (whether cash or equity) based either on an hourly rate (i.e. $200 / hour) or a fraction of a full-time compensation plan.
Example: if you expect an advisor to assist 2 hours per week, that’s 5% of a full-time role. If a full-time version of that role would be a $100K salary, a $5K annual fee (either in cash or a share of equity) could be a fair rate.
While typically the startup compensates the advisor, it’s also not uncommon for advisors to also invest in the startup to have some ‘skin in the game.’
Every startup needs advisors. Maybe they’re your existing investors, but more often than not, the bit of equity or cash you pay to a separate advisor is a must-do to fill in the gaps of your founding team.
As with angels, the infrastructure to find advisors is unfortunately murky. It’s a messy web of who you know and how you get the word out. That’s a big reason why accelerators can be so valuable: they’ve pooled together domain experts for participating startups.
We do hope to see more platforms emerge here to connect startups with advisors, likely hosted by existing media companies, accelerators, or investors.
Advisor and startup matchmaking is something we hope to do more of here at FoodHack. We just launched a new feature - Advisor x Startup Matchmaking to help better connect both sides. If you have any other ideas for how we can best support the space here, let us know, we’re all ears 💘
“It’s all a bit serendipitous.”
That’s how Daniel Skavén Ruben describes the matchmaking process between startups and angel investors –– early-stage, individual investors who support companies at the very beginning of their journeys.
It’s a process he knows well, as a food tech expert, investor, and advisor to startups, VCs, and accelerators. He’s also the host of this year’s FoodHack Summit (and writes the excellent FoodTech Weekly newsletter –– subscribe!).
This week, we sat down with Daniel to chat angel investing: why it’s needed, how it works, and tips for startups seeking angel investment.
Angel investors are individual investors who invest in the earliest stage of a company’ growth. They invest a ‘small’ amount (typically $10K to $100K) before other more traditional investors would be confident enough to invest.
“It’s an interesting risk / reward,” says Ruben. “Early-stage startups are very high risk, and most will not make it. So valuations at that stage are very attractive.”
That means angels do have a shot at a nice big return –– but most angels aren’t just looking to get in early with a unicorn. They typically have expertise and a network in the startup’s space, so they can actively advise the business towards success. For experts like Ruben, that’s an “opportunity to pay it forward and give back.”
Because angel investors tend to play a hands-on role, they often focus on the industry they know best. In Ruben’s case, that’s “advancing a more sustainable and nourishing food system,” but “other angels have other focus areas. You can optimize the food system for different things. You may care deeply about animal welfare, organic, locally-grown, nutrition, gender, economic opportunity.”
So what about the startup receiving the investment?
First, It’s available. In the early days, the best a foodtech startup can hope for from a VC is “come back later.” It’s at this stage when angels come in to provide much-needed capital to a great idea or product that might not have a real business plan sorted out.
Second, you gain an advisor. Most angels know your industry well, with a great network of partners, distributors, or possible team members to introduce you to. A small equity stake in the company gives the angels a great incentive to do everything they can to support the business.
According to Ruben, the key is to “get yourself out there. Don’t be afraid of sharing your idea. There’s probably 100 people out there who already have the same idea. It’s all about how you execute that idea. You need to dare to share. Even if there are companies doing something similar, there are also differences in how you approach things.”
There are a lot of ways to get the word out. Here are a few examples:
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Who should apply? If you're a (pre)seed startup shaping a sustainable food system through innovative technology, and looking to scale up: Apply here before the application deadline of 2nd August 2021.
It’s a loose (and new) category, but we’re seeing more and more “angel syndicates” –– groups of angel investors who curate investors and startups in one place, host pitch events, share intel, and make introductions.
Syndicates range from informal groups of investors who meet up for coffee, to formal teams with shared staff to help find and approach potential investments.
Most syndicates these days will feature your foodtech startup and have relevant investors in the their network, but here are a few foodtech-focused syndicates worth looking into:
We put out a call to find out who are the most active angel investors in FoodTech, and received 50+ suggestions from founders and investors. Here are a few that stood out (in no particular order).
Ruben strongly recommends companies “don’t be too secretive.” It’s key to get the word out on your business to the right audience and start building traction early on.
Angel investors are normal people like you and me (just with some extra pocket change to spare). Like any normal person, angel investors are more likely to trust, and invest, into people they know. So start networking and building the relationship early on.
It’s vital to “learn about the market you’re trying to disrupt. Subscribe to relevant newsletters. Find investors who have invested in similar spaces.” That knowledge will help lend you credibility and approach angels with relevant asks. More tips on researching an investor here.
Think of your angel conversations as ‘pressure tests’ for your ideas. Use them to collect feedback on your business idea and pitch. Angels generally care about your space and want more innovation and growth in the area –– they’re in your corner, even if you’re not in their portfolio.
Finally, whatever value you expect the angel to bring –– get it in writing. A major piece of the value angels offer is their advising, so try and map out that engagement as best you can. Here's some helpful tips on advisory shares.
If you're angel investing in foodtech or a startup looking for investors, come join us at this years FoodHack Summit on October 5-6. With already 30+ startups and 20+ investors in foodtech attending, you might just find your match.
Boring disclaimer: This is not financial or investment advice and should not be taken as such. This is not intended to serve as the basis for any investment decision, and doing further due diligence on a potential investment is highly recommended. Invest (or don't) into startups at your own risk.
Blockbuster IPOs. High-rolling acquisitions. Celebrity investors. There’s been a perfect storm accelerating investment in foodtech over the past 12-18 months in particular, with foodtech growing 31% faster than general VC activity in 2020.
Just last week, we saw:
But dig in past the headlines, and investment starts to sound pretty complicated. Every investment round is unique, and those involved tend to only share the snappy stuff with the public.
So this week, we’re sharing 30+ of the most important terms for founders and advisors looking to understand the mechanisms of foodtech investment. Get out the flashcards, time to study up 🤓
p.s. This is a 7-minute read - Save the guide for later or strap in for a long-read.
💡 Accelerators: programs that help early-stage startups grow via expert coaching and intros to investors and strategic partners. Accelerators are fixed-term, cohort-based, and mentorship-focused. Read More: Accelerator Database
✅ Accredited Investor: a high-income investor (individual or institutional) who can make equity investments with less regulation and government oversight. This varies widely by country, but equity investment is regulated differently than publicly-traded stocks. In the USA, the Securities & Exchange Commission doesn’t require complicated investment registration if the company is only taking investment from accredited investors. It’s up to the company to make sure investors are accredited if the company wants to avoid government oversight of non-accredited investors.
🤝 Advisors: an outside expert supporting a startup with strategic advice and key introductions. Usually a pro in one area, like marketing, finance, fundraising, or a specific technology. Compensated either with equity (more common) or cash. Read More: Advisor <> Startup Matchmaking
💸 Angel Investors: the earliest investors in a startup, typically individual investors with checks from $10K -$100K. Angels know the space well and often are highly active advisors in the early days. Read More: Angel Investing 101
📉 Anti-Dilution Rights: future investment rounds ideally increase the valuation of the company. But this isn’t always the case. With this in mind, some investors require an anti-dilution privilege that protects them if future investment rounds have a decreased valuation (a “down round”). These are not required, but an investor might request or demand them in negotiations (particularly if the startup might be over-valued).
📈 Annual Revenue: the sales coming into a company over 12 months. Simple, yes, but a key piece of the valuation puzzle. Startup valuations typically take AR and multiply it to assess a startup’s value (how that AR is reported varies widely -- could be 12 months trailing, 12 month forecast, or a hybrid). This year’s banner trend in funding is that the multiplier for valuation keeps increasing. While 5-10x used to be typical for high-growth startups, 40-50x is now typical. Read More: Valuations in foodtech
🌉 Bridge Round: typically a tactical, smaller round to extend a startup’s runway or achieve a specific goal before the next, larger round. While it sometimes can be a red flag that a startup is struggling, it’s also common that they just need a fast check for a big initiative or market entry. One recent example: cultured seafood co Shiok Meats closed a bridge round on July 21 to open a new production line, and likely used that capital for their acquisition of Gaia Foods just 20 days later.
🔥 Burn Rate and Runway: burn rate is simply the amount of money a startup is burning, inclusive of all the sales revenue against all operating costs. It’s usually expressed as a $ value lost each month. Burn rate is used to calculate the Runway, which is the length of time before a startup will run out of money. Seed-stage startups should aim for 12-18 months of runway to avoid joining the 29% of startups which fail after they run out of money.
🧢 Cap Table: a record of all the shareholders behind a company, including employees, investors, advisors –– anybody who has a piece of the equity pie.
💵 Convertible Note: a startup’s earliest money is typically raised by the startup selling ‘convertible notes’ to investors that turn to equity later on. This process is simpler than issuing equity, and entitles the investor to a certain number of shares as soon as a future financing event takes place (or once the startup hits a certain valuation). Convertible notes usually include a discount, meaning the holder of the convertible note gets their shares issued at a lower share price. That’s more bang for their (early) buck than investors joining on later when a proper equity setup is established. Read about the related SAFE agreement below.
🕴 Corporate VCs: many corporations have their own investment arms, including Cargill Ventures, Kellogg’s Eighteen94, or Nestle’s Inventages. Why? Sometimes they’re scouting for strategic partnerships (imagine a global meat operator investing in a sustainable animal feed startup). Sometimes they’re just chasing a big return. It’s a growing space (currently around 10% of all foodtech investment) and a huge focus area for the big players. Read More: Investors Database
🔎 Due Diligence: before investing, investors (especially VCs) will comb through your financial plans and ‘kick the tires’ by talking with customers and your core team. This process used to take a few weeks, including several in-person meetings. But due diligence is less and less of a priority as investment velocity increases. Why? First, lockdown: we’re better at connecting over Zoom than we were 2 years ago, and in-person meetings are still often impossible. Second, it’s a founder’s market, so VCs are hesitant to ask too much or delay the process –– largely because of the outsized impact of Tiger Global, which has thrown out the playbook and invests at a velocity never before seen. That means corners being cut to get checks out, fast.
🥧 Equity Crowdfunding: crowdsourcing startups, where the small-scale private investors also get a small slice of equity. Of course, the small guys don’t get the same privileges as proper investors, and the likelihood of returns is slim. It’s especially popular with women and women of color who have historically been excluded from traditional VC.
🌎 Impact Investing: incorporating social and environmental returns into an investment strategy. While this term remains popular outside of foodtech, it’s almost redundant in our space. Investors in foodtech are generally aware that the only viable, long-term investments address the environmental and social problems in our food system.
🔔 IPOs & SPACs: how companies convert private stock to public stock, and issue shares for trading among the general public. Provides the company with a boatload of capital and a liquidity event for all investors with shares. Read More: Foodtech IPOs and SPACs Explained.
💰 Liquidity Event: something that enables investors to ‘cash out’ the value of their shares. Typically these are acquisitions, mergers, or IPOs.
👩💼 Lead Investor: the co-host of the financing party, the lead investor issues the first term sheet, agrees on key points (especially the valuation). It’s impossible to negotiate everything with every investor, so the lead sets the table for the round’s other investors. The lead investor usually writes the largest check, but this isn’t always the case.
📜 Pay-to-Play: a requirement that investors participate in future rounds, or risk losing certain privileges (usually control over the startup like anti-dilution rights or a vote on liquidation events). These are typically not included in Series A rounds.
▲ Post-Money Valuation: the value of a company immediately after a financing round closes.
▼ Pre-Money Valuation: the value of a company just before a financing round closes. The two valuation types matter when determining the ownership share after funding is complete.
📈 Recapitalization: re-balancing a company’s debt and equity to stabilize the company’s financial setup. Companies usually do this by taking on some debt and ‘buying out’ shareholders. The reasons vary, but recapitalization is usually to solve a problem (i.e. too many investors, bad investors, or investors who are sick of waiting for a return and want to get out).
💵 Rolling Funds: a type of VC fund where investors can subscribe to the fund at any time, and regularly pay into the fund via quarterly payments. That’s different from conventional funds, where all investors join up together and nobody’s invited to the party later on. It’s a new type of fund that started in software, and has found it's way into foodtech.
Fill in our survey here about your investment appetite for a future piece we're putting together about individuals and private markets.
⭕️ Round: startups fundraise in rounds, where multiple investors participate on an agreed-upon valuation and distribution of shares. Each round, the startup has to buff up their business plan, negotiate terms with each investor, sign agreements with each investor, and go through due diligence. Issuing stock also typically requires sign-off from other investors and the chance for previous investors to participate, meaning a company can’t just take a check whenever an interested investor comes knocking. That’s why investment runs sequentially (Series A, B, C, etc), with each round ideally increasing in size and valuation.
🏃♂️ Runway: see Burn Rate.
⛑ SAFE: a Simple Agreement for Future Equity. SAFE agreements lay out a future path to the investor receiving equity, but provide the startup with cash immediately. The SAFE agreement will list the event that will issue equity to the investor (typical trigger events include future financing rounds or the sale of the company). Read about the related Convertible Note above.
🌱 Seed Round: the earliest funding round, typically with a small number of investors investing in a company that doesn’t yet have a viable product. Pre-Seed is an even earlier-stage spin on the same story. These differ from Series Arounds in that investors don’t yet expect a crystal-clear business plan or advanced proof points of the business. Of course, you’ll still need some indicator you’re on the path to success to secure seed funding.
🤝 Syndicates: a special vehicle to fund startups, where a syndicate is assembled with the sole purpose of funding one specific startup. Syndicates are started by a syndicate lead (typically an experienced investor with a lot of capital), after which any accredited investor can join the investment with a small (minimum $1000) investment. If the syndicate investment later yields a return, the syndicate lead gets a commission fee of everybody’s earnings (somewhere between 5 and 25%). One FoodTech syndicate, FoodTech Angels, earns 15-20% interest on the carried gains of their investment.
📊 Term Sheet: the preliminary, non-binding agreement between an investor and the startup. Term sheets define the valuation for the company, the amount raised, share price, and other rights for the investor.
❓ Valuation: the process to determine how much a company is worth. Valuations are agreed upon between the company and the investor. The company often sets their goal valuation they want investors to agree to, while the investor analysts assess the business and come up with their own number. Valuation can be calculated on an absolute(based only on the company’s earnings and growth) or relative (comparing the company to others in the space) bases. Read More: Valuations in foodtech
⏰ Vesting: the schedule by which shares are issued to a shareholder. All equity shares can vest, no matter who’s receiving them: including cofounders, investors, and employees. For founders and employees, it’s a way to keep folks on board and reward them for their service. Sometimes, that’s after a specific event, but usually it’s a set timetable. For employees, it’s typically a one-year cliff after which stock starts vesting on a monthly basis.
💸 VCs: venture capital firms are the primary investment engine for startups. They tend to join up once the startup is well-validated, with a strong business plan and established product. VC funds distribute a big pot of cash that’s pooled by various wealthy individuals, investment banks, pensions, and foundations. VCs make money in two ways. First, they earn carried interest, often 20%, when investments make a profit (i.e. a $100M fund earns $110M, the VC earns 20% of the $10M return). Second, VCs earn a management fee each year, often 2% of the value of the fund. VC firms often have an area of focus, and that’s especially true in foodtech. Read More: Most Active VCs in FoodTech
💦 Waterfall Distribution: the ‘pecking order’ by which investors are paid out when an investment produces a return. Waterfall distribution often starts by covering initial investments (put in $1M, get $1M back).
👉 TLDR: Don't have time to read everything? Find our guide online to refer to later.
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You're a startup founder. And you’re looking for business angels to join your first (or next) raise. But not sure who or where to start?
We’ve got you covered.
Having angels as part of your fundraise brings you a wealth of experience to draw on, plus the investment itself.
And while angel investment isn’t new, it is on the rise. 📈
According to Dealroom.co, last year angels participated in rounds totalling an impressive $6.2 Billion. In FoodTech alone.
So it’s about time you met them. All in one place. 👇
Below you can find a list of 200+ impact angels in AgriFoodTech.
And if you'd like to join 150 other angels investing like top tier VCs into the future of Food and Climate, apply here to join HackCapital.
🇭🇰 Sonalie Figueiras (Hong Kong) - a sustainability expert, food futurist and eco-powerhouse.
In the AgriFood space, she is currently most interested in diverted waste sidestreams, alternative and climate-resilient crop innovation (alternatives to fat, cacao, coffee and wheat) and the role of education in the future of food (content, engagement and information).
“I think angels that are on your side can make your company fly! They often are the most passionate, helpful and time committed of all your investors. All startups need 1 or 2 super supportive angels.“
🇸🇪 Daniel Skaven Ruben (Sweden) - a mentor for multiple accelerators, editor of FoodTech Weekly and advisor to countless rising stars in FoodTech
Daniel is interested in innovations and technologies that can help make the food system sustainable and nourishing. These include fossil-free fertilizer, agriculture automation, CRISPR, personalised nutrition, food waste reduction solutions, sustainable packaging, and compelling alternatives to animal-sourced foods.
“Many early-stage startups share similar needs, e.g. fundraising, press, PR, marketing, recruitment, and go-to-market strategy. I can often add value in these areas.“
🇩🇪 Martin Weber (Germany) - serial seed investor with 25 investments including Infarm, Formo and Core Biogenesis
“The only way to predict the future is to make it. Entrepreneurs believe their story will come true. This requires confidence … and delusion. It helps to be somewhat detached from reality — to assume that, for whatever reason, you are the one who can see into the future, and that in the new world your product/service will be needed and successful, despite overwhelming evidence (i.e. the current reality) that it’s not.“
🇺🇸 Beatriz Franco (USA) - former lawyer, banker and agtech startup CEO
Beatriz sees opportunities in three main areas: technologies solving for scalability of fermentation and cell-based alternatives; hybrid solutions offering better tasting and more affordable food products and food waste upcycling startups to create food innovations and next generation packaging and materials.
🇦🇹 Ryan Grant Little (Austria) - impact entrepreneur, angel investor replacing animals with better alternatives
Although Ryan only started angel investing in 2021, he has already backed 20+ alt protein startups, advising many more and is a FoodHack Ambassador in his adopted city of Vienna.
“I like this space because it’s full of smart and interesting people, but also people with the same values I have when it comes to animal welfare and changing a very broken food system. It’s also fun as hell to be at the very beginning of what will be the most important industrial shift of our lifetimes.”
🇩🇪 Daniel MacGowan (Germany) - startup founder, active angel investor, and ex-lawyer
Besides investing capital, Daniel brings with him first-hand operational experience of building and exiting his first company Otto’s Burger, and his own continued learning from founding and scaling up FoodTech startup Kynda.
He has a portfolio of 20+ startups with enabling technologies and infrastructure within the alternative protein space including Plantish, Tandem Repeat, Forsea and Nowadays.
🇸🇪 Leo Groenewegen (Sweden) - Cultured meat expert, alternative protein enthousiast and bioprocessing specialist
Leo is an angel investor in 20 early stage companies including Mzansi Meat, The Pack and Arkeon and is interested in the areas of snacking, cellular agriculture, agbiotech and alternative protein.
🇺🇸 Erin Culley (USA) - former music agent, serial entrepreneur and early-stage impact investor
Erin is approaching 30 investments in Food and ClimateTech. She reveals that being an angel investor is both satisfying and gratifying: “your cheque can be the difference between getting someone off the ground, or not“.
🇳🇱 Lize Hartley (Netherlands) - INSEAD MBA graduate, M&A Consultant, startup founder
Lize combines her experience as founder of Plasta (an FMCG brand selling plasters for a range of skin tones), and her current role as an M&A Consultant, focusing on both pre-deal- and post-deal activities means she brings a wealth of experince to the cap table.
🇦🇹 Markus Linder (Austria) - entrepreneur and impact investor
Markus is focusing on globally scalable business models with impact on the biodiversity and climate crisis. He is currently the Founder & CEO of tech startup inoqo. In 2019 he became active as an angel investor and mentor for several emerging global start-ups and has made 6 investments across agrifoodtech and biotech.
🇫🇷 Jordan Wolfe (USA / France) - Entrepreneur and active angel investor funding Trilo Bio, California Cultured and Helaina
Jordan’s mission is focused on changing our systems of production and is most interested in the areas of innovative ingredients, functional foods, alternative protein and biotech.
🇸🇬 Michal Klar (Singapore) - Investing in alternative protein startups in Asia Pacific and supporting entrepreneurs in plant-based, cell-based and fermentation.
“Great angels have deep, relevant networks - investors for follow on rounds, media, potential partners and more. The best of them can also be the first external sounding board for founders.“ As an angel investor, Michal brings his APAC network and prior startup operating experience. But he also tries to manage expectations and transparently share with founders what he cannot help with.
🇺🇸 Dilara Kanca (USA) - investment associate, former founder and angel investor
Dilara is passionate about sustainable food systems, impact and climate action. As a third generation Family Business Leader she can offer experience and guidance to early-stage startups. Recent investments include Tandem Repeat and Evo Foods.
🇬🇧 Stephanie Peritore (UK) - Strategic board advisor, impact, ESG and sustainability investor
Stephanie thrives on innovative ventures and technology, creating disruptive brands, leading trends and generating revenues.
She has over 20 years of experience within investment banking, fund management and startup investing and her strengths include negotiating complex structures, creating ad hoc solutions, building great teams, as well as mentoring and helping team members achieve their full potential.
🇺🇸 Ayna Arora (USA) - Harvard Candidate and former Global Director at ZX Ventures
Ayna is passionate about accelerating ventures focused on the circular economy space and bringing together corporates and startups.
With a background in product, strategy, and investment in early stage ventures she brings novel products to market in the B2B and B2C spaces.
🇸🇪 Gregoire Letort (Sweden) - Impact angel and entrepreneur combining Food & Wine Tech with sustainability
Gregoire is committed to helping start-ups to take off with a keen interest in sustainability, especially where food is in focus, because of the role it plays in our climate crisis, and the solutions we must create and scale to help to solve it.
“I’ve invested in, or held board positions on, more than a dozen FoodTech and WineTech start-ups around the world. I know what it takes to scale, from managing complex supply chains to managing cash, handling distribution networks, recruiting talents.“
🇨🇭 Justin Jacquat (Switzerland) - procurement leader, FoodHack Ambassador and early-stage investor
Justin is a commercially-savvy procurement leader with an entrepreneurial background offering several years of experience within global supply chain and business operations in the CPG industry.
“I'm convinced that everyone can make a difference to make our planet a little better.“ With this in mind, he has invested in multiple FoodTech startups including Forsea Foods, Nowadays and Brevel and supports impact driven founders that are mainly seed and pre seed.
🇺🇸 Brandon Chong (USA) - investment partner and impact angel in companies aiming to be global leaders including EVERY, BlueNalu and Future Farm.
Brandon backs founders with bold missions to reinvent global food supply chains for the better and has made 10 investments in startups under this thesis.
🇱🇮 Oliver Stahl (Liechtenstein) - serial entrepreneur, startup mentor, board member and impact investor
Oliver has made over 18 angel investments in foodtech startups including Kombuchery, Esencia Foods and cookeat.ch. His thesis is ‘It cost the double and it will take twice as long’ and has a wide range of experience advising startups on their scaleup journey.
🇬🇧 Lian Michelson (UK) - Investor, entrepreneur and experienced CEO
Lian brings her first-hand knowledge of building technology businesses, managing teams, and running operations and logistics. She is currently working with startups, accelerators and VC funds as an investor, mentor and advisor and interested in computational biology to increase yields, and cell ag in the seafood space.
“Impact angels are supporting your company not just for financial returns. They believe the more your company scales the more impact you create, so they are accessible and are here for the long run.“
Have we missed anyone?
Food and ClimateTech angel investors (often ex-entrepreneurs) are mission-aligned with early-stage startup founders to drive transformational change.
They offer their capital, expertise and learnings in a focus area they know first hand.
It's no secret that women are underrepresented across the sector, so we're profiling 30 females from around the world who are at the forefront of funding breakthrough technologies that shape a better future for people and planet.
🇺🇸 Alicia Robb, Founder and CEO, Next Wave Impact - also Managing Partner of two early stage venture funds.
🇺🇸 Ashley Hartman, Managing Partner, Bluestein Ventures - focusing on early-stage investments in the future of food.
🇺🇸 Ayna Arora, Impact Investor - a former entrepreneur specialising in early stage deep tech. Invests via the FH Syndicate.
🇺🇸 Ba Minuzzi, Founder and CEO, Umana - leading conscious investing aligned with her values.
🇺🇸 Beatriz Franco, Vita Ventures - supporting founders tackling the world's most critical challenges. Invests via the FH Syndicate.
🇨🇭Camille Bossel, Co-Founder, FoodHack - designer turned entrepreneur. Invests via the FH Syndicate.
🇪🇸 Diana Piemari Cereda, VP Marketing, Eatable Adventures - building tomorrow's food companies. Invests via the FH Syndicate.
🇺🇸 Dilara Kanca, Investment Banking Associate, Barclays - passionate about sustainable food systems. Invests via the FH Syndicate.
🇨🇭Emilie Dellecker, Co-Founder, FoodHack - building a global FoodTech community through ambassadors. Invests via the FH Syndicate.
🇸🇪 Erika Homber, Venture Analyst, FoodHack - democratizing angel investments. Invests via the FH Syndicate.
🇦🇹 Eva Sommer, CEO and Founder, Fermify - focused on innovations in plant- and cell-based food
🇺🇸 Erin Culley, Impact Investor - investing in solutions to support people and planetary health. Invests via the FH Syndicate.
🇺🇸 Gili Elkin, Founding General Partner, ICI Fund - backing entrepreneurs with sustainable, disruptive tech
🇺🇸 Heather Courtney, CEO, Alwyn Capital - investing in solutions that remove animals from the supply chain
🇬🇧 Kerstin Robinson, Co-Founder, Nix & Kix - combining her experience as a start-up with global banking
🇳🇱 Lara Nuchowicz, Impact Investor - funding purpose-driven brands and sustainable tech. Invests via the FH Syndicate.
🇳🇱 Lize Hartley, Private Equity Associate, McKinsey - ambitious ex-entrepreneur, funding and supporting startups. Invests via the FH Syndicate.
🇳🇱 Lydia (Liet) van Beuningen, Impact Investor, The Mothership Investments - investing in female founders
🇺🇸 Mariliis Holm, Co-Founder and Partner, Sustainable Food Ventures - backing innovation in cell and plant-based
🇺🇸 Melissa Facchina, Co-Founder and General Partner, Siddhi Capital - strategic, venture-based partnerships with food and beverage brands
🇨🇱 Priyanka Srinivas, Founder and CEO, The Live Green Co - accelerating a global transition to sustainable food
🇬🇧 Rebecca Wheeler, Partner, ForGood - supporting challenger brands with purpose
🇲🇽 Rocio Cavazos, Founder, The Ananda Group, Partner, SIMA Funds - prioritising regenerative solutions
🇭🇰 Sonalie Figueiras, Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Green Queen Media - social and environmental advocate. Invests via the FH Syndicate.
🇸🇬 Sandhya Sriram, Group CEO, Chairman and Co-Founder, Shiok Meats - investing in trailblazing founders
🇸🇪Sandra Malmberg, Investor, EQT Ventures - focusing on Food and ClimateTech
🇺🇸 Shayna Harris, Managing Partner, Supply Change Capital - paying experience forward to impactful startups
🇳🇱 Silla Scheepens, Partner, Future Food Fund - transforming the food system by supporting entrepreneurs
🇬🇧 Stephanie Peritore, Founder and Managing Director, Mindful Bites - funding mission-aligned, vegan startups. Invests via the FH Syndicate.
🇺🇸 Tracy Chen, Brand Ambassador, GlassWallSyndicate - funding plant-based and alternative protein startups
🇪🇸 Victoria Betoeski, Founder and Managing Partner, The Connecting Architects - improving our health and food system
As a result, founders often have a go-at-it-your-own mindset. But in life and in business, we’re better off learning from other people’s mistakes and successes (no matter how much we tend to go off and do everything our own way).
Accelerators are here to help companies grow fast and smart. Through a combination of expert guidance, direct investment, and introduction to investors and partners, accelerator programs might just be the right thing for your business.
This week, we’re highlighting a few of the leading accelerators actively supporting foodtech companies, the benefits of attending an accelerator, the potential reasons why not to attend.
Let’s start with a quick definition. Accelerators are:
📅 Fixed term: typically 3-6 months, with a clear timeline often ending in a public “demo day” or other event showcasing participants.
🧑🤝🧑 Cohort based: companies move through accelerators with a group of others.
🤝 Mentorship focused: accelerators are designed to introduce startups to mentors and experts that provide strategic guidance on your business.
Most accelerators offer investment as well, either in grants or equity investment. Many accelerators are closely linked to investment funds, with an expectation or opportunity to raise from the fund after the accelerator wraps up.
In terms of timing, accelerators often run on a 1x / year cadence. A high share of accelerators gather applications in Q1, select companies in Q2, and run the program in Q3-Q4.
"But, what about incubators?" They’re similar, but incubators typically (1) don’t have a set timeline and (2) focus on early product development. Accelerators almost always, well, ‘accelerate’ existing businesses with an established product and team. We’re still including a few incubators here given the overlap.
So what do accelerators actually offer founders? Quite a lot actually.
🧠 Expert Guidance: the managers and mentors behind accelerators are pros. They’ve either helped heaps of companies along your dream path, or walked it themselves.
🤝 Peer-to-Peer Support: most accelerators are cohort-based, meaning you’ll benefit from a group of like-minded founders encountering the same challenges (or at least very empathetic to your unique barriers).
💰 Investor Intros: accelerators are all about connections to investors, often wrapping up in a public Demo Day that’s like an all-you-can-fund buffet for investors in the space. And the end of an accelerator is a great time to raise: you’ve learned a ton, tightened up your business plan, know your ask, and are ready for the big dance.
💵 Direct Investment: whether in equity investment or no-strings-attached grants, many accelerators inject cash into the business during or after the program. A number of accelerators are also backed by governments or NGOs to stimulate innovation, without taking equity.
🥇 Seal of Approval: accelerator participation is a positive flag that the startup is legitimate and already passed a rigorous selection process (many accelerators reject > 97% of applicants). i.e. The Norrsken Impact Accelerator had 2000+ applications for a total of 20 available spots. There’s a reason everybody who went through Y Combinator lists “YC 2020” in their LinkedIn headline like an NFL player listing their college team 🏈
Accelerators sound pretty sweet, right? But let’s zoom in on some of possible downsides to round out the story.
⏱️ Unnecessary Help: a major selling point of accelerators is investor intros. But it’s a founder’s market these days with more resources available to fundraising founders than ever before. Think carefully if what the accelerator offers is worth taking yourself out of play for.
👀 Distractions: many accelerators include social functions, demo days, and other workshops that (even if beneficial) are not the core work of the business. We all love a happy hour, but review exactly what time is required by an accelerator (including the ‘fun’ stuff!) and factor that in as a cost you could otherwise be investing in your business.
➗Dilution: speaks for itself – if your accelerator takes equity in the business, stop and think if that’s the most value you can get for that stake. Maybe it’s better for you to say, raise a bridge round for the same dilution, to then go hire a great CFO or sales rep.
Accelerators are only as good as the mentors, investors, and managers behind the program. Lots of great accelerators (including in FoodTech) have ‘gone dark,’ due to the loss of key people or sponsors. It’s a hard, expensive business to run, and the accelerator landscape will always be in flux.
That being said, accelerators will become an increasingly vital innovation engine in food & agtech. We’re only in the first inning of a new era of change in foodtech, juiced by new tech, massive climate challenges, and more mindful consumers (and yes, heaps and heaps of investment cash) and accelerators play a key role in helping the industry, and the innovative companies in this sector to get there.
Historically, a lot of the secret sauce has been bottled up by big corporates. But foodtech is now more transparent and democratized, with even the biggest players investing in startups rather than building everything in-house. Early pioneers like Impossible and Oatly are giving thousands of employees a front-row view of what it takes to win. That’s a bottomless supply of mentors and partners to ensure accelerators serve up great and relevant advice.
Specific technologies will also continue to cluster into dedicated accelerators, like the newly-launched Mylkubator for alt-dairy or IndieBio for biotech. An accelerator for insect products, precision fermentation, or AI in agriculture? Yes, yes, and yes.
We’ll also see more governments following the model of places like Singapore and Switzerland, nurturing accelerators and offering direct grants to participants. To stay relevant in a time of remote and global work, governments must actively nurture their innovation ecosystems. It’s either that, or risk their economy hollowing out and falling behind.
There’s a lifetime of lessons being learned every day, and accelerators are perhaps the best way to make sure we learn from past hits and misses.
Startups, corporates, successful entrepreneurs, investors – we’re all better together. And accelerators are the best forum to bring us to the same table. Pull up a chair, let’s get to work 🚀
We typically fear what we don't understand.
Which is why the FoodTech sector can often get quite a bit of backlash.
From molecular farming to upcycling food sidestreams, 3D printed alt-meat to honey made without bees, the future of food is evolving fast.
Since it's hard to understand (and keep track of) the latest innovations and technologies, here at FoodHack, we've put together a few resources that make FoodTech easily digestible - and with that a little more approachable.
- Ryan Bethencourt - crazy futurist / builder / investor.
- Sonalie Figueiras - first source for anything alt-protein and materials.
- Bruce Friedrich - alt-protein data and insights for everyone.
- Irina Gerry - nice breakdown of key issues and transition to alt-protein.
- Laura Hodgkiss - stories of leading founders/investors, digestible FoodTech listicles.
- Ron Shigeta - startup mentor/ advisor to 100+ food and biotech startups.
- Good Food Institute - the definitive resource for all alt-protein milestones, research and trends.
- FoodHack's Trend Reports - digesting 100's of hours of research into 7-minute digestible reports.
- Edible Planet Ventures - the latest IPOs, M&As and investments across the food chain.
- Alt-Meat - covering the full alt-meat market.
- Climate Tech VC - for the very latest climate deals and news.
All the above make this sector a little more understandable, and each has their own fun twist to keep you engaged and coming back for more.
Have we missed any other resources? We'd love to know what else you’re reading / listening to, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
The world’s largest environmental movement is fast approaching, AKA Earth Day.
And since this year’s theme is ‘invest in our planet’, we asked 30 leading Food and Climate investors which technologies are their priorities to invest in.
Plus they’ve also shared a few words of wisdom to help you close your first/next funding.
Because while fundraising is tough rn, the climate crisis isn’t going away. And it’s people like you who can develop and scale the solutions we desperately need.
Why not come and join these investors and hundreds of other active angels, investors and trailblazing founders at the HackSummit?
We’re less than a month away until doors open, so make sure to grab one of the few remaining tickets.
P.S. use code EARTHDAY20 to save 20% on your pass (valid until Sunday 23rd April).
Jessica Burley @ Planet A Ventures
Christian Guba @ FoodLabs
Christian says: "Non-dilutive grants can be a great way to fund impact-driven startups without giving up equity. Also consider the amount of funding needed and whether or not VC funding is actually the right fit and finally, seek out investors who share your vision with an extensive longlist (it’s a numbers game)."
Steven Finn @ Siddhi Capital
Steven says: "Give it time! I used to tell people to give it 6 months, now I say 9-12. Don't plan to raise significant capital to do everything. Raise 2 years of runway - a little bit more than what you need to hit specific focused milestones."
Gil Hosky @ Flora Ventures
Gil recommends: "Entrepreneurs are hustlers and don’t be shy to knock on every door they can. Fundraising is all about momentum, so try to get initial commitments for your round from existing investors or friends and family and on the back of that to get momentum to bring other investors in. AgriFood-Tech entrepreneurs (even early stage ones) should showcase investors a clear path to commercialisation within short-medium time while solving a real unmet consumer or industry needs."
Hadar Sutovsky @ ICL Planet
Hadar explains: "Fundraising in this macro environment has become challenging and is expected to see continued slowdown in H01 2023, that’s a fact. My advice is partnership. Partnering with a larger company or joining a corporate incubator or accelerator can be a good way for startups to access new markets, customers, resources while also accessing smart funding."
Erika Hombert @ HackCapital
Erika’s Advice: "Don't stop believing in a better future. Be realistic, especially regarding the current investment climate and the climate challenges ahead, but don't get too wrapped up in the current cultural negativity. In order to build a sustainable and prosperous future we must be able to envision it first! I feel there are too few stories on what the end game is. All great changemakers in history have held their dreams independent of the environment they were in."
Yael Alroy @ Viola Ventures
Yael’s advice: "Founders fundraising their first/next investment should prioritize shaping a robust business model, validating it with potential customers, and having a clear G2M strategy, in addition to focusing on technology. Understanding the market, showing a path to revenue, and having a strong, solid and experienced team are also key for successful fundraising in this current environment."
Catia Cesari @ Volta Circle
David Kappeler @ Foundation for Technological Innovation
David’s top tips: "Be aware that the current context is rather tough and therefore the fundraising time is longer (x2). For startups in their first round of financing: first seek non-dilutive aid such as state aids like SPEI or FIT, which are not subject to the same tensions as investors. Then complete with business angel networks (SICTIC, BAS, Verve Ventures). For more mature companies: the first reflex is to ask existing investors to connect with a lead investor for the next round."
Maximilian Bade @ Nucleus Capital
"Optimise for the right syndicate composition in your first round (functional value add, network, follow-on financing). Don't optimize on valuation before you have found PMF!"
Puja Balachander @ Carbon13
Puja’s recommendation: "Stretch your runway by cutting costs, and looking into equity free sources of funding, even small amounts like equity free accelerators, or community/university grants. Get creative about showing you have product and commercial traction. For example, maybe you can't get a paid pilot or LOI, but you can still show you have strong relationships with customers by producing co-branded content, research reports, etc."
Tong Gu @ Pact VC
Tong’s advice: "Lead your narrative with a long term vision (to get people excited) but also back it up with what you have done to-date to demonstrate you are the right team to make it a success. Understanding your unit economics and how to grow while improving the UE is key for the current fundraising environment."
Steve Molino @ Clear Current Capital
Alexandre Luyet @ Conexkt
Alexandre says: "Founders should remain steadfast in their vision while maintaining the flexibility to adapt their strategies. Prioritise the fundamentals: establish a profitable business model, optimise expenses, focus on sales, and extend your runway."
Josef Seidl - Angel Investor
Josef shares: "Regardless of the current economic situation, it remains very critical for founders to focus and solve a real and big customer problem (painkillers instead of vitamins). The big opportunity right now: It's easier to hire some great tech talents because of recent layoffs (tip: layoffs.fyi)."
Antony Yousefian @ The First Thirty
Antony explains: "With lifting interest rates, return on capital is going to increase for VC and thus on start-ups themselves. So start-ups need to show either clearer returns on capital in business plans, if revenue or traction is not there today. Traction, traction traction, focus, focus , focus."
Jonathan Berger @ The Kitchen
Jonathan’s advice: "Try to better understand what your investors are facing – the appetite of their LPs, the pressure on returns, the back to basics on valuations. Build the relations with investors before fundraising and familiarise them with your story. Try to simplify your operation and show strong metrics with as low risk as possible. Be explicit on your KPIs."
Tamara Giltsoff @ Anthemis Group
Lauren Abda @ Branch Venture Group
Lauren shares "Focus on the fundamentals - a clear value-add, distinct differentiators, and a reasonable valuation. Time spent building rapport with investors who share your vision and updating them regularly on your developments whether you are fundraising or not, is always time well spent."
Frédéric Krebs - Angel Investor
Frédéric's advice: "Be extremely active when it comes to funding your startup. It’s a full-time job and it takes months to be known, recognised, and retained. So get out of your office or lab, meet VCs or angel investors every single day. Use Zoom for more time efficiency but it is harder to make a great impression. Trust the process because in the end, you will inevitably get a network effect through it. You will be contacted. If not, question your technology, your team, your business model, or… your skill at fundraising."
Dominique P. Locher - Angel Investor
Dominique’s top tips: “Generate clear value with your vision, be truthfully mission-driven, be contagious with your passion, and start building early relationships with investors and not only when you desperately need cash since the runway is short!”
Marika King @ Pinc, Paulig Venture Arm
Marika explains: “Investments in FoodTech have dropped 80% since the end of the peak in Q1 2022 so understandably there are challenges. Still, deals are being made and money needs to be deployed. It does take longer though, so reduce burn rate and try to prolong your runway. Also, look for investors who can really deliver value and will support you long term.“
Paul Rous @ Regenerate Ventures
Daniel Skaven Ruben - Angel Investor
Daniel’s advice: "Understand that fundraising processes (including due diligence) take a long time, that valuations have fallen drastically, and that many VCs are struggling too. Be crystal clear on your path to profitability. If all else fails, rebrand as a ClimateTech company as there still seems to be funding for those startups."
Michael Goblirsch @ Square One Foods
Michael recommends: "Be realistic with your valuation; adaptable and flexible (with your ticket size/ terms); show traction and a clear understanding of your market and know your numbers; seek feedback and advice from experienced entrepreneurs and prepare for difficult funding until mid 2024."
Piotr Grabowski @ AC/VC Foodtech Impact Fund
Piotr notes: "At the moment fundraising, more than ever, requires patience, persistence and a really entrepreneurial mindset. Do your work, maybe slower, but consistently. Go as far as possible. These are not days of high salaries, redundant costs and extensive marketing budgets. Be honest with your team what the situation looks like, do not overpromise and remember to reward them when the coin flips. Also ask for help and take care of yourself. If your mind and body are not right, your business won’t be either."
Erin Culley - Angel Investor
Peter Schmetz @ Vorwerk Ventures
Peter suggests "In the case of a non-revenue generating, tech-relying businesses should make sure to have a clear path to market while also being clear in communicating your milestones. In the case of an already revenue-generating business, show a realistic path to profitability while also being prepared for steep growth scenarios."
Greg Michel @ Cell Capital
Greg’s advice: "Back to the lean methodology: focus on piloting/ commercialising your product or part of it even if it’s not perfect, show you have initial traction. Get in touch with VCs well ahead of when you need to raise, keep them updated as you execute against your roadmap."
Markus Pfeiffer @ Bloom Partners
Markus advises: “Buzz” technologies such as Blockchain and AI are relevant, but only if backed by credible evidence! Real differentiation of the product/service, solid proof of product/market fit (beyond a handful of friendly customers), and being bold in terms of valuation and fundraising asks, demonstrates confidence in a company's potential for growth and success. Don’t let yourself be dragged into bargain deals!”
Laura Estankona @ Rumbo Ventures
Laura recommneds: “When fundraising I would make sure you do have some profile in your team who is an expert on the field you are starting your venture, that gives you credibility, especially in a technical sector like climate-tech. Also, have a clear path to profitability and be flexible to pivot your project and adjust it to the sector & market needs. I would also suggest being up-to-date with current ongoing changes in regulation that affect the environmental field.“
Agree/disagree? Get in touch and tell us which technologies you’re most excited about.
team (at) hackcapital.co
Better still, join us all at the HackSummit and let’s catch up in person. Hope to see you there 👋
Whether it's to uncover new investment opportunities, hear from fresh talent or get up to speed on the latest trends…
…The FoodHack Meetups have become globally renowned (always free) events for FoodTech professionals to meet and exchange ideas.
In 2022, these Meetups often needed a waiting list.
And a ‘full house’ became the norm.
So we’ve almost doubled the number of FoodHack Ambassadors.
Opened 13 more Chapters.
And strengthened 6 existing Chapters.
Making it easier than ever for you to meet your local FoodTech community. Whether it’s your first or twenty-first FoodHack Meetup!
P.S. Sign up to our weekly newsletter to hear when the next Meetups take place.
🇮🇹 Bologna: Riccardo Astolfi. Serial founder turned startup scout and business creator in plant based, fermented foods and regenerative agriculture.
🇬🇧 Nottingham: Edmund Keenan. An angel investor with 18 years’ experience in food manufacturing process design.
🇬🇷 Thessaloniki: Theodoros Sofianos. A serial founder passionate about leveraging technology to push the limits of the food industry.
🇷🇼 Kigali: Dennis Nyarko. Startup founder volunteering internationally and nationally in food systems, climate and nature conservation.
🇦🇺 Sydney: Rebecca Screnci. A biotechnology consultant helping founders, CTO, CSOs, investors and tech enthusiasts build companies from the ground up.
🇩🇪 Berlin: Jordi Morales Dalmau, a biotech CTO will join the Berlin Chapter with Naomi Sparks, Sarah Decoine and David Schoensee.
🇨🇭Lausanne: Jean-Marc Parveaux and Marie Bonnin. A big food marketing expert and a hands-on academic join forces with the current Lausanne Chapter with Luc-Etienne Dandrieu and Camille Aouinaït.
🇬🇧 London: Edmund Keenan and Anna Heslop. An angel investor and business consultant bring a passion for scaling up novel tech to join the team in London, led by Sascha Dutta, Rose Yombo-Djema and Xavier Maxwell.
So now you’ve met the newest additions to our growing FoodHack Community...
...It’s time to join them in a city near you.
With new Meetups announced each week, sign up to be the first to know when and where they will take place.
Plus meet the Ambassadors (and hundreds of the brightest minds in ClimateTech) on 11-12th May at the HackSummit in Lausanne, Switzerland. Grab your ticket here.
This International Women's Day, we're highlighting many of the incredible women breaking new ground and investing in a better future across Food and ClimateTech.
Their steadfast determination and north star vision is rewriting the future of our planet. Both for us and future generations to come.
You’ll find the full list of 300+ top women in Food and Climate below.
Many you'll know, but plenty of new names to watch in 2023 👀
And if you're ready to meet many of these women and the wider Food and Climate community IRL, join us at the HackSummit on May 11-12th in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Use code WOMENINCLIMATE for an extra 10% off
Get instant access to the data here.
Add them to the list by completing this short form.
Yet despite its critical role in tackling climate change, marine ecosystems are under threat from pollution, overfishing and man made disruption.
For this year’s World Ocean Day, the theme is Planet Ocean: Tides are Changing.
So we’re highlighting 150 CEOs and Founders working across regeneration, restoration, conservation and the clean up of our ocean.
🐟 Whole cut seafood alternatives
🤖 Real-time analytics and robotics
Responsible marine construction
💦 Removing waste from waterways
🎣 Sustainable fish farming and feed
🌊 Biodegradable plastic alternatives
Pesky Fish is building a global supply chain where fishermen can sell to customers with 100% transparency to create an economically and ecologically sustainable industry for fish, fishermen and consumers.
Atlantic Sea Farms is a vertically integrated, regenerative seaweed aquaculture company, diversifying how our coastal waters are used and providing a local, fresh, healthy alternative to imported seaweed products.
Urchinomics turns ecologically destructive sea urchins into high value seafood. This helps kelp forests recover and brings marine biomass and diversity back to coastal ecosystems, sequesters CO2, and creates meaningful employment in rural, coastal communities.
"Our food system is one of the world's biggest problems. And two thirds of the meat industry itself is wholecuts. So if we want to solve the climate crisis we have to solve food and to solve food we have to solve whole cuts," shares Chris.
“At Loki Foods, we believe that by providing innovative and nutritious options, helps alleviate the pressures on our fragile marine ecosystems. As the seafood capital of the world, Iceland holds a special place for the planet. We're extra sensitive to the changes in our oceans and committed to restoring their health," explains Christopher.
BettaF!sh aims to save and restore our oceans by using cultivated European seaweed to make authentic plant-based tuna alternatives. "With seaweed at the core of our product, we are building a new seaweed industry that also creates a sustainable alternative to fishing and re-balances our oceans," adds Deniz.
🇩🇰 David Erlandsson Co-Founder at Aliga Microalgae - Developing naturally nutritious algae
"At Aliga Microalgae, we believe that algae have a significant part to play in the transformation of the world’s food systems, from providing healthier clean label ingredients to creating green and sustainable nutrition for humans and animals," shares David.
The Great Bubble Barrier helps governments meet changing regulations on waste management in waterways, help cities fight plastic problems in their waters and help waterboards to save on their cleanups after high water.
Carbonwave markets seaweed extracts to the agricultural industry as organic fertilisers and biostimulants; plant-based leathers for fashion and interiors; and broad-spectrum emulsifiers with a wide range of applications across cosmetics and skin-care products.
Just last month eFishery reached unicorn status with a $108M series D raise. It has a customer base of approximately 60,000 farmers, and is targeting 1 million fish farmers in its “digital cooperative” by 2025.
ECOncrete’s nature-based solutions for marine construction enhance biodiversity with a unique patented technology. In compliance with industry standards, ECOncrete’s technology can be seamlessly integrated into any types of marine infrastructure in a scalable manner.
Cleanhub brings waste collection to coastal regions - where they are needed most. Resulting in 1000’s of new waste management hubs globally which will directly prevent plastic waste from reaching the ocean and provide jobs for local communities.
Open Ocean Robotics’ boats are equipped with sensors, cameras and communication devices to capture information from anywhere in the ocean with instant access to it. The boats harvest energy from the sun and the wind, and can travel nonstop for months, without producing any greenhouse gas emissions, noise pollution or risk of oil spills.
"Plantish exists to save the oceans and eliminate the need to consume marine animals by providing more sustainable, more nutritious, and more delicious fish options," shares Ofek.
Origin by the Ocean is building a business ecosystem based on farmed and harvested algae which they turn into ingredients that are used in the production of everyday consumer goods.
"Forsea’s vision is to target only highly priced endangered species that have an unmet market need. Our first product is a freshwater eel, an endangered species that cannot be bred in captivity and has market demand of billions of dollars," details Roee.
SharkSafe Barrier has developed a novel and eco-friendly approach to solve the shark-human conflict, by providing the first effective, shark-specific and nature-inspired technology, to protect surfers and swimmers from large sharks without harming the ocean fauna.
Archireef is harnessing the power of 3D-printing and applying their proprietary algorithms to print reef tiles made from natural materials and work with government entities and businesses to incorporate marine ecosystem restoration into their ESG and sustainability agenda.
Access the full list here
Add them in by completing this short form.
Listed curated by HackCapital, the platform for sustainable finance that enables purpose-built fundraising and liquidity tools for impact funds and startups including OceanTech, FoodTech and ClimateTech.
The FoodHack Demo Day saw 200+ investors from around the world tune in to watch 12 high impact startups pitch for investment.
The founders proved there is no shortage of talent or ambition in the agrifood sector. Each presenting for 2 minutes, followed by questions from the judges.
Deciding the winners was no easy task, so we left that to the judges!
Let’s dive in…
⏳ 2 minutes to pitch
🏆 3 winners
👩⚖️ 4 judges
🚀 12 startups
🤝 60+ investors <> startup intro’s
💸 200+ investors
Plant-based alternatives to dairy, meat and sugar
🥓 Raging Pig Co and 🧀 Grounded Foods are bringing more sustainable alternatives to meat and dairy lovers, without compromising on taste or health.
🥗 Naturannova are using computational biology and precision fermentation to develop an all natural plant-based sweet.
🧪 Arda Biomaterials are upcycling brewery waste into an alternative protein material to replace leaders.
☕️ Kaffe Bueno are upcycling coffee side streams to create multi-functional bioactive ingredients.
🏭 ProteinDistillery obtain sustainable protein from upcycled brewer’s yeast to offer great taste, nutrition and pleasant mouthfeel.
New protein sources
🧫 PoLoPo are using molecular farming to increase protein content in potato tubers for a plant bio-factory for high scale production of animal-derived functional proteins.
🍫 WNWN Food Labs showcased their sustainable, scalable cacao-free chocolate using novel fermentation and food chemistry (and chocolate is just the start).
🍄 Kynda are empowering food producers to drastically reduce their carbon footprint by using biomass fermentation to produce mycelium.
🌾 Improvin have developed a food industry platform for carbon reductions across the supply chain.
Novel strains and microbes
🔬 Wild Microbes and 🍄 Mycolever (who came out of stealth at the Demo Day) revealed how they are unlocking superior microbes to increase microbe diversity.
Four judges dug deeper into the technologies to reveal their true scale-up and impact potential.
How would they really be able to stand up against competition, increase consumer adoption and gain regulatory approval.
12 powerful pitches. But there could only be three winners:
Wild Microbes have the potential to have a big impact on a lot of other FoodTech companies in their mission to unlock better performing microbes to generate an upswing across the whole industry.
The judges were impressed by Ben’s clear, concise pitch whilst bringing a bundle of energy to the stage. A promising solution to find and cell-ebrate the best ‘natural athlete’ microbes.
PoLoPo revealed their novel approach to growing proteins by using molecular farming with potatoes. A very sustainable and durable plant.
This could prove to be a much needed alternative in the drive to fulfill demand from a (much needed) protein shift. We’re excited to witness Maya and Raya’s spud-tacular impact.
WNWN Food Labs’ fermentation technology has enabled them to create a full range of ethical, sustainable and resilient alternative ingredients to produce chocolate.
The judges were convinced their round would be oversubscribed thanks to rave reviews of their products by the FoodTech community, a more scalable solution than synbio and a choco-lot of investor interest.
Now: We’re busy flooding the inboxes of the 12 founders with investor introductions.
Next: We’ll work with angel investors in the FoodHack Syndicate to fill the rounds of at least three of the founders from the Demo Day.
Then: We’ll share the funding rounds of each of the startups once they are announced.
Join us next time: Our next Demo Day takes place in March 2023.
Can’t wait that long? List your startup’s fundraise here.
Until next time…
If your technology has world-changing potential, doesn’t the world deserve to hear about it?
Bringing on a pr agency means you can tap into new skill sets and connections to communicate your breakthrough to new markets, geographies, partners and consumers.
So you might be looking for a PR agency to:
But where do you start looking for one?
Expertise in: Executive communications, stakeholder engagement, reputation management, integrated marketing communications
Expertise in: Communications, public relations, marketing services, senior counsel and guidance
Expertise in: Branding, digital marketing, SEO, PR, funding raises and newsrooms.
Expertise in: Public relations and reputation, investor relations, fundraising and public affairs
Expertise in: Integrated multichannel PR campaigns, one-off reports and everything in between
Expertise in: LinkedIn management, content creation, press office services focussing on recruitment, investors visibility and multimarket PR
Expertise in: Public relations and communication services
🇬🇧 Kibbo Kift Agency - Representing activists, arts movements, creative brands and start-ups, future-thinkers and social justice initiatives related to sustainability and conscious consumerism 👉 Contact Sam Narr
Expertise in: PR and performance marketing across Google and Facebook/Instagram, product launches, brand representation
Expertise in: Media coverage in leading trade and tier 1 press, as well as podcasts and awards
Expertise in: Public relations, social media, new media, trade show support
Expertise in: Public relations, social media and content marketing
Expertise in: Communication strategy, content strategy, copywriting, LinkedIn
Expertise in: Public relations, influencer marketing, event support and consultancy
Expertise in: Strategic consulting, media relations, content curation
Expertise in: Endorsements, product development, brand positioning, digital marketing, sales
Expertise in: Creating powerful ideas, generating engagement, PR and organic impressions for brands
Expertise in: Media relations, influencer engagement, brand collaborations, events, communication strategy and digital content
Expertise in: Communication strategy, press, graphic design, event organisation, photography
Expertise in: Marketing, PR consultancy and providing strategic counsel
Expertise in: PR partnerships, digital marketing, brand development, PR training
Ready to hear more?
We’ll be diving into the topic and importance of PR strategies to get the word out on your startup at the HackSummit on May 11-12th.
Where Marie Fabiunke at FoodLabs and Katelijne Bekers at MicroHarvest will share their insights from both a VC and startup perspective.
Meet and hundreds of founders and funders in Food and Climate at the HackSummit. Use code PRSTRATEGY to save 10% and join them.
Behind every cloud is a s̶i̶l̶v̶e̶r̶ green lining.
And following the past 12 months, we’re seeing entrepreneurs’ exceptional technologies break onto the scene that can outlast downturns and overcome unprecedented challenges.
Funding from FoodTech investors enables these founders to develop and scale impactful technologies.
So we asked 20 high impact investors what they predict for the year ahead.
P.S. if you too are ready to back exceptional early-stage founders, apply to invest through HackCapital.
Christina Ulardic @ Astanor Ventures
Christian Guba @ FoodLabs
Steven Finn @ Siddhi Capital
1) Companies who were previously coached to move faster and take more shots on goal are retraining themselves to preserve cash and focus only on their north star.
2) On the ingredient side, customers are going to move slower than ever. This includes younger challenger brands who are focusing on the core over the future, as well as big CPG players who are slowing down innovation to focus on quarterly bottom line in the current market environment.
3) Brilliant people who could make a difference in this space are going to not start companies that may have existed in a better funding market for their own personal and job security related reasons. Many will also choose to work at established firms instead of taking personal risks on startups that may not get funded.
Kevin O'Shaughnessy @ S2G Ventures
Albrecht Wolfmeyer @ Proveg Incubator
Steven Molino @ Clear Current Capital
Clara Camesasca @ Volta Circle
Brett Brohl @ Bread and Butter Ventures
Ashley Hartman @ Bluestein Ventures
Katarzyna Gil @ ICOS Capital Management
Thomas van den Boezem @ PeakBridge VC
Robert Dupree @ Alwyn Capital
Jean-Gabriel Tarnaud @ Döhler Ventures
Erik Byrenius @ Trellis Road
Brian Bernstein @ Rich Products Ventures
Maya Benami - impact investor
Stephanie Dorsey @ E2d2j
Pierre-Mathieu Pélissier @ Thia Ventures
Nathan Cooper @ Barrel VC
Gil Horsky @ Mondelēz International
Erin Culley - impact investor
As we step into 2023 with cautious optimism, top FoodTech founders will continue to raise rounds.
And VCs and investors will continue to back the founders trailblazing innovation across AgriFood.
Sign up to get the latest funding news and announcements straight to your inbox each week.
And, if you’re looking to start investing in early-stage startups too, apply to invest through HackCapital.
Agree, disagree or did we miss a trend?
We’d love to hear your thoughts, drop us an email: team (at) foodhack (dot) global
46% of the world’s habitable land is used for farming, according to the UN FAO.
And one third of all greenhouse gases come from our food system.
Which is why scientists and entrepreneurs are unlocking radical ways to feed growing populations sustainably with nutritious foods.
Meet Adnan Oner, a scientist-turned-founder.
Who has combined his background in applied, theoretical and particle physics with entrepreneurship.
To leverage science and technology for a better future for both us and the planet.
Six years ago he was already exploring problems around emissions, the technologies available and the solutions that didn't yet exist.
He quickly began to realise the damage caused by industrial agriculture and the biodiversity crisis we’re facing.
Inspired by George Monbiot’s article on replacing photosynthesis in food production to relieve most of the world’s surface from agriculture, Adnan was spurred into action.
And just last year, he founded Farmless.
Using renewable energy (instead of photosynthesis), Farmless grows single cell microbial protein with a liquid feedstock made from CO2 and hydrogen, green ammonia and minerals as a feedstock.
Simply put, instead of brewing beer, they brew microbes that have been selected for their food properties.
And instead of using sugar, they use a feedstock that is made from renewable energy.
As a result, Farmless uses 10-25x less land compared to animal proteins.
And 10-100x less land compared to plant proteins.
With (significantly) less land required, Farmless’ mission is to give back the land we borrowed from nature and rewild our planet.
"We believe this technology has the potential to end factory farming, rewild our planet and draw down gigatons of carbon," explained Adnan Oner, the Founder and CEO of Farmless.
Today Farmless came out of stealth to announce a €1.2 million pre-seed round with Revent, Nucleus Capital, Possible Ventures with participation from HackCapital, Sustainable Food Ventures, VOYAGERS Climate-Tech Fund, TET Ventures and renowned angel investors.
The funding will be used to accelerate R&D, improve formulation and overcome regulation and scale-up challenges. Ready to partner with food companies.
And as renewables get cheaper and cheaper, agricultural-free microbial protein has the potential to become the cheapest form of protein in the coming decade.
With the call for carbon labels on the rise, and food companies looking to reduce their carbon footprint, Farmless is at the forefront of enabling companies to put the most sustainable food products on supermarket shelves.
Adnan Oner will deliver a keynote at 11.55 on May 12th at the HackSummit in Lausanne. It's the first opportunity to hear from the founder on his plans to free food production from animals and agricultural land.
The market is tough, valuations are down, it’s a hard time to fundraise.
But, it’s also the best time to invest.
With almost 2 decades of corporate and venturing experience behind him at PepsiCo, Kraft and Mondelēz International, Gil Horsky has decided that now is the best time to launch a new AgriFood-Tech VC.
Throughout his career in the food industry, he’s seen first-hand the successes and failures of AgriFood startups. He believes that one of the greatest opportunities for FoodTech entrepreneurs is to be from the beginning more commercially focused and problem-orientated in solving unmet needs for the consumer and industry.
And now he’ll be funding the next generation of AgriFood-Tech startups.
As the Founding Partner of FLORA Ventures.
By investing in European and Israeli AgriFood-Tech startups at the intersection of planetary and human health, that adhere to the fund’s manifesto of “Good for People, Kind to the Planet”. From pre-seed to Series A.
Gil Horsky spent the last 16 years working around the globe in senior executive roles at multinational food corporations. So, if there’s anyone who knows how they think and what it takes to get on their radar for collaboration, venture investment and M&A, it’s Gil.
And he’s teaming up with Esther Barak Landes, one of the most famous and successful Israeli early-stage disruptive tech investors in a variety of verticals: FinTech, AgTech, Healthcare and Digital Transformation.
Who brings a 20 year track record of identifying and investing in early winners, and then helping them lay the foundations to become a big company that gets at one point acquired or goes public. Esther also founded the Nielsen Innovate Fund, an early-stage incubator and fund that specialised in Retail-Tech and digital media technologies.
Esther and Gil are strong believers that entrepreneurs should surround themselves with people they enjoy working with. So, as investors they’re looking to mix approachability and high integrity, while being the right added-value partners for entrepreneurs when times are good and, more importantly, when times are tough.
And what’s more, FLORA Ventures is backed by top-tier Strategic and Institutional LP investors and has a bigger network of strategic corporate partners and advisors from the entire value chain of the AgriFood-Tech industry.
So, founders backed by FLORA Ventures have early access to design partners who will guide them on industry and consumers' unmet needs, pilot their technology and be by their side from the very beginning.
Corporates are very important partners for startups, and can help them accelerate their time to market especially in the AgriFood-Tech industry, in which the go-to market can be challenging and takes a long time.
But it can also be challenging to work with corporates, they can be slow to respond and drain your resources as an entrepreneur if you don’t set-up the right collaboration framework.
For example: You might have your champion at the corporate, but they can easily change roles within the company and then you will start from scratch.
Gil has been on that side of the table for almost 2 decades and now he’s ready to share his experience with entrepreneurs on how to successfully navigate the corporate world.
According to Gil, it doesn't really matter if you're working with Mondelēz, Givaudan, PepsiCo, Walmart, Unilever or DSM. They all have a lot of similarities in the way they think and operate.
Getting on their radar early, building a collaboration framework, making sure it’s a win-win from day 1 are all important factors for a successful partnership with Big Food.
And for founders moving along the collaboration process, whether it’s graduating from a corporate acceleration program, starting a small R&D collaboration, to getting an investment or even being acquired, it is important to understand the implications and risks.
FLORA Ventures invests across pre-seed to Series A, but it has a sweet spot for leading rounds of seed stage companies who have already received angel or incubator pre-seed investment of at least €1M.
And they’re targeting investments based on a gameboard of 7 key areas:
With an investment evaluation framework of the 3 P’s:
Backing the best-in-class purpose driven people with big dreams, global ambitions, and the grit to execute and succeed.
Funding solutions with high growth potential that serve large markets, and that have the right industry dynamics and regulatory path to deliver outlier returns.
Investing in ventures with purpose to build a healthier, sustainable and more resilient agrifood tech system that’s aligned with their ESG and impact guidelines.
The FLORA Ventures team is heading to the HackSummit on 11-12th May where Gil Horsky will moderate a panel discussion on ‘Food as Medicine’.
He’ll be joined on stage by:
Nora Khaldi @ Nuritas who’s using discovery tools and AI to find new functional ingredients that can be used in food.
Anand Parikh @ Faeth Therapeutics who’s developing diets for cancer patients as a critical pillar to fight the disease.
Richard Day @ ADM who’ll share how ADM is partnering with startups such as Brightseed to scale food as medicine solutions.
Adam Melonas @ Chew who's partnered with some of the world’s largest food and beverage manufacturers to create 1,000's of products that offer solutions to combat childhood obesity, malnutrition and severe food allergies.
Ready to be a part of the Summit action? Use code FLORAVENTURES to save 10% on your summit pass and meet the team 1-1.
Centre plate, as a meat substitute or as a secondary ingredient, mushroom’s popularity is ‘shrooming.
Leading chefs to showcase gourmet mushrooms on their menus.
And retailers to tap into this soaring trend.
But take Germany for example, which already imports over 62,200 tonnes of fresh and chilled mushrooms each year.
It is building new and expanding existing mushroom farms to increase production capacity by 4% YoY.
But is this enough to keep up with demand?
Eldad Arnon and Daniel Lock don’t think so.
Eldad, ex-Delivery Hero and former Infarm Director and Daniel, former strategy consultant and ex-VP of Business Development at Kalera have teamed up and founded Tupu.
The duo are on a mission to disrupt the mushroom industry by applying their knowledge of vertical farming, to scale local, gourmet mushrooms.
And develop a cost-efficient, modular mushroom farming system.
With their localised production, Tupu offers a sustainable, reliable, nutritious food source to help feed growing populations in our cities.
They’re currently cultivating 6 varieties of gourmet mushrooms: Shiitake, King Oyster, Yellow Oyster, Grey Oyster, Lion's mane, Coral Tooth.
At a rate of 2.5 tonnes per month on a 600 sqm farm.
Tupu are leveraging robotics and AI to significantly reduce labour costs and maximise outputs, without compromising on quality.
This includes using a semi-automated harvesting process, computer vision to monitor and forecast yield, and plenty of sensors constantly monitoring climate conditions, mushrooms, and substrate health.
Their space-efficient container model means they can overcome the challenges of finding urban space in Germany's capital, and reduce the need to transport mushrooms across the country/continent to reach Berliners.
And at the same time they’re working with universities in the Netherlands to upcycle side streams to create rich protein products combined with bioscience for more resilient and nutritious mushrooms.
Each week restaurants, wholesale partners and premium food services across Berlin are ordering Tupu’s mushrooms.
And following recent discussions with retail giants, as well as organic supermarkets Tupu’s gourmet mushrooms will soon become (even) more accessible for consumers.
They will soon double down their production capacity using their technology to enable more customers to buy fresh and sustainable mushrooms around Berlin and the region. Time well spent to increase long-term efficiency and outputs.
Plus they’ll be joining us at the HackSummit on May 11-12th so be sure to check out their locally-grown gourmet mushrooms.Use code MUSHROOMFARMING to save 10% on your summit pass.
“Just like in nature, it took some time for mycelium to grow on me — I first knew it as the stuff that made my chores harder on the family farm where I grew up in Vermont. Mycelium was a nuisance because it held together the wood chips I had to move, but that was also the spark of an idea that would shape my life's work,” shares Eben Bayer, CEO and Co-Founder of Ecovative and MyForest Foods
While studying at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Eben began to understand its immense environmental and commercial potential, upcycling low value waste into high value products that are fully compostable, and leaving behind compost and clean water as a byproduct.
Together with his fellow graduate and co-founder Gavin McIntyre, he launched a business and started exploring mycelium's commercial applications.
Ecovative started with a focus on construction materials, before pivoting to protective packaging, where they could be faster to market and address a big environmental problem: single use plastics.
The idea for mycelium bacon was something that came through experimentation, and realising that mycelium is a tissue just like bacon they just needed the right recipe to make it taste like the real thing.
After just 18 months, their top notch research and development teams had a delicious, market-ready product. In fact, Eben told us it's so delicious that MyBacon now regularly outsells pork bacon, and is now available in over 50 retail locations, and growing.
The business for mycelium in food and packaging has grown very fast over the last few years, and with Ecovative’s Forager division entering the fashion, apparel and automotive spaces, they see immense potential to further reduce humanity's reliance on plastics and industrial animal agriculture.
Ecovative is now operating brand new facilities that, together with a network of partners and licensees, produce millions of pounds of mycelium every year.
They also acquired a state-of-the-art facility in the Netherlands, which will supply raw materials throughout the international mycelium supply chain they are building.
Looking ahead to the future, they plan to integrate their AirMycelium technology within existing mushroom farms all over the world. Following a successful pilot program with Whitecrest Mushrooms, a farm in Ontario Canada, opening billions of pounds of potential production globally.
And they’re now positioned to increase production over the coming months and years to put new mycelium products in the hands of everyday consumers.
These industries Ecovative is addressing are huge, and entrenched, which presents a big challenge for any emerging company or technology.
But this is also what makes them worth transforming - the company is finally in a position to do just that after expanding Ecovative’s production facilities the past two years.
Mycelium technologies can only benefit our planet when they achieve price parity and performance in the same marketplace as these established industries and products that are draining our planet's resources.
That means the bottlenecks are largely about the time it takes to perfect the technology and bring it to scale. Working with the advantages of biology makes it possible to hit and exceed performance standards across product categories, with a fraction of the waste and energy of traditional processes.
Eben and his team are confident that before long, in food and packaging and many other industries, mycelium won't be seen as the alternative, but the first and best choice for the planet and profits.
First, make sure you have really understood the problem you are solving and the fundamental techno-economic constraints that relate to your technology as well as the industrial constraints in the market you are entering.
Get clear on these through your own conversations with customers, investors, and peers.
Once you have a clear thesis on where your technology can solve the biggest problem – better than all other approaches – and with a rational business model, then crystalise your thinking and focus on building (e.g. tune out the noise).
As you build, work as hard as possible to put prototypes, even crappy ones, in front of your customers, this will help you iterate on your business and technological hypotheses.
Make sure to feed these forward into your core assumptions to make sure that your north star -- the thing that will make your business tremendously impactful and valuable.
Finally, make sure to get the right people around you, on your team, on your board, and as your investors.
Focus on values, ethics, and strengths that complement your own and those of your board. Don’t over index on valuation or ownership, instead over index on great people with great values who share your vision.
Choosing the right collaborators and partners is crucial in bringing any business from idea to something that's sustainable and makes a difference.
Nothing happens in a vacuum, in business or in nature, so thoughtfully building our networks is one of the most important things any entrepreneur can do.
Eben will be joining a fireside chat at the HackSummit on 11-12th May, where he’ll share what Ecovative has been up to this last year. Spoiler alert: they've got some truly exciting partnerships and projects underway.
Most of all though, he’ll make the case that the biggest moonshot is really an Earthshot, that the greatest priority and opportunity for emerging industries is in harmonising human activity with our home planet.
Hear from Eben and 100 leading Food and Climate voices on stage at the HackSummit. Use code ECOVATIVE10 to save 10% and join them.
After almost two decades as both a lawyer and investment banker, Beatriz Franco left the corporate world and doubled down on technology as a catalyst for change.
First as an investor and advisor, and later as the CEO of an agtech startup, Beatriz moved her way through the startup ecosystem, sitting at every seat of the table.
It was during this time, that she realised that the food system alone was contributing ¼ of greenhouse gas emissions.
Because of this, together with pressure on food production from both population growth and climate consequences, she decided to focus on supporting new technologies solving the massive challenges of our food system both as an angel investor and through her own venture firm, Vita Vera Ventures along with Partner, Brita Rosenheim.
But what’s driving her to put her money where her mouth (and heart) is?
As the severity of climate change comes into focus, there has been a much-needed surge of investments into technologies such as renewable energy.
However, Beatriz saw the gap in food sector investments, and was compelled by the clear need for solutions combined with the clear lack of sufficient capital.
She truly believes this is not only a real need but a real opportunity for financial returns.
Beatriz is laser-focused on technologies reducing GHG emissions, food waste and plastics, improving food and materials production while using less resources, and creating sustainable options without asking customers to compromise.
With so much experience to offer startups, what’s her #1 advice to founders in the space?
To surround yourself early with the best team you can, both internally and externally (through advisors, value-add investors and collaborative communities, such as Foodhack, who really care about what you are doing and will support you) and most importantly, be adaptable.
As for where she's looking to invest in next, Beatriz is prioritsing 3 key areas:
With a growing portfolio of startups, Beatriz gives founders crucial financial backing and with such a diverse and technical background, startups can draw on her experience as she can relate to their challenges with both advice and empathy.
A winning combination she hopes will give founders the best chance of success.
Use code ANGELINVEST to join them in Lausanne, May 11-12th.
Conventional chocolate has a choco-lot of supply chain problems with links to deforestation, climate change, child labour and slavery.
But the bittersweet reality is that the world is full of chocoholics.
In fact, chocolate is the most widely and frequently craved food.
And global demand is predicted to reach 43.5 million tons by 2030.
But there is no cocoa-free chocolate alternative on the market.
Meet Ahrum Pak and Dr Johnny Drain, the co-founders of WNWN Food Labs.
Between them they have a wealth of experience in investment banking, management consultancy and food science.
And now they are on a mission to bring ethical, sustainable, future-proof chocolate alternatives to market.
Using fermentation, their scalable, proprietary process makes flavour-identical, cacao-free alternatives to chocolate.
The result: chocolate that’s low-carbon, vegan, caffeine-free, palm-oil-free, made from sustainable plant-based crops, and lower in saturated fats and sugar.
Already, WNWN FoodLabs (an acronym for Waste Not, Want Not) have released three cocoa-free chocolate products via D2C to test demand.
And they quickly sold out.
To keep up with consumer demand, today they announced a $5.6 million funding round enabling them to scale up their manufacturing, grow the team and bring products to retail this year.
HackCapital, PeakBridge, FoodLabs, Geschwister Oetker Beteiligungen Group, Mustard Seed Maze, PINC and Investbridge AgriTech with CellVC all took part in this funding round.
Which comes at a crucial time, not least because the European Union recently agreed a new law to prevent companies selling commodities such as coffee, beef and soy into the EU market that are linked to deforestation.
And as legislation on sustainable ingredients comes into force, and consumer awareness of the chocolate supply chain and its environmental impact increases, WNWN Food Labs are poised to take a slice of today’s $116 billion chocolate market.
A win-win for consumers, workers, producers and the planet.
Join Ahrum Pak at this year's HackSummit where she'll give a keynote presentation on her startup journey and what's next for WNWN Food Labs.
Use code WNWNSUMMIT to save 10% and look forward to meeting the global Food and Climate Community in Lausanne.
The current global protein demand exceeds 200 million tonnes. And with the world’s population expected to reach 9.8 billion in the next 30 years, the race is on to find sustainable protein alternatives.
Produced in over 100 countries worldwide and the third most important food crop in the world. Potatoes are an abundant, resilient, cheap and versatile yet underused food source.
Could the humble potato be the key to a scalable, cost-effective protein source to meet the food industry's protein demands and to nourish the world’s growing population?
Dr. Maya Sapir-Mir and Dr. Raya Liberman-Aloni think so.
Maya and Raya believe they can turn this versatile, yet underused vegetable into a scalable protein source with molecular farming.
As plant metabolic engineers, they know how to manipulate plants to express, produce and accumulate proteins. They met over 15 years ago, during their PhD studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and worked side by side for 6 years.
After working for a few years in small biotech startups and seeing the rise of plant based and precision fermentation technologies, they wondered how they could bioengineer and manipulate plants to produce and accumulate high amounts of high-quality functional proteins.
To make this idea happen, they teamed up to launch PoLoPo at the beginning of 2022.
Together, they are developing a plant biofactory producing proteins that can be used as functional ingredients in the food industry. With potatoes.
PoLoPo’s potato-to-protein pathway uses molecular farming to produce high functional, nutritious animal proteins, identical to the source. Only with plants.
A technology gaining traction and investment in 2023, cited by Sifted as the newest trend among FoodTech investors.
To start, PoLoPo will replicate Ovalbumin (egg white protein) that will match Ovalbumin produced from chicken eggs’ functionality, nutrition and protein sequence.
Setting their sights on the $26.6 billion egg protein market and meeting the industry demand for egg white protein alternatives.
Today they’re one step closer, as they announce a $1.75M pre-seed fundraise from HackCapital, FoodLabs, CPT Capital, Siddhi Capital, Plug and Play Ventures and Milk and Honey Ventures.
They will use this funding to accelerate commercialisation from lab-to-scale, establish partnerships with manufacturers to adopt PoLoPo’s egg protein and step up on R&D to offer prototypes in the coming year with quality, functional samples.
And since potatoes can turn 2-3 crop cycles per year and the downstream process is already well established, they are poised to scale up production and easily integrate into existing processing facilities.
Leveraging molecular farming as a facili-tater to replicate animal proteins at egg-ceptional scale.
Ready to meet Raya, Maya and the founders of 100+ emerging Food and Climate technologies?
Join us at the HackSummit on May 11-12th and use POLOPO10 to save 10% on your summit pass.
CO2 emissions are accelerating climate change. Since the greenhouse gas remains in the atmosphere for 100s if not a 1,000 years.
So with time running out for it to be removed naturally, three PhD scientists are putting it to work to tackle the climate crisis.
And create a sustainable, regenerative food source.
To nourish growing populations with sustainable functional protein ingredients.
So let’s meet them.
And the 3.8 billion-year-old-microbe they’re using.
Growing up in Austria, Gregor Tegl was convinced there must be a smarter way to produce food and resources more sustainably.
He explored sustainable enzyme production during his PhD studies and soon realised the power of fermentation.
So he teamed up with his now Co-Founder, Günther Bochmann, who was actively working in biogas and gas fermentation.
Combining enzyme production with fermentation technology in a bioreactor proved to be a very sustainable concept with many applications. Including food.
Next they needed to find the right microbe.
Günther was already working with leading microbiologist, Simon Rittmann who saw the potential of Archaea, single-celled microorganisms. And they developed a gas fermentation technology.
When Berlin-based company builder EVIG met the 3 founders, they saw the potential of bringing people and technologies together.
Together they founded Arkeon.
Arkeon has developed a 1-step fermentation process using patented technology to create vegan, all-natural, customisable, GMO-free protein ingredients from CO2.
Plus, their strain of Archaea produces all 20 amino acids needed for human nutrition, without the need for extensive land or water, and bypasses traditional agriculture processes.
So Arkeon’s customisable B2B products can be used as clean label ingredients for (plant-based) food and beverages, alternative proteins, flavours and aromas, supplements, as well as cell culture media for cultivated meat.
And today they announced an additional raise of US$4+ Million from FoodHack, ICL, aws Gruenderfonds and Tet Ventures.
This additional funding (with over US$10 Million funding to date) will accelerate product development plans, technology buildout and infrastructure expansion.
Starting with the arrival of a massive 150 litre bioreactor.
And they plan to onboard a pilot facility as soon as 2024, using it for both gas fermentation and their enzyme technology to realise their go to market strategy.
These 3 scientists-turned-entrepreneurs are shooting for the stars, with the support of a 30-strong mission-driven team.
Ultimately guided by a North Star: to feed the planet with sustainable and nutritious food.
Petroleum oil powers jet engines, heats our homes and is found in the foods we eat.
Often used in food preservatives, flavourings and colourings, petrochemicals extend a product’s shelf life and increase freshness.
And enhance the colour of our foods.
Because we eat with our eyes first.
But pressure from regulators to remove artificial flavours and synthetic food dyes is rising. So too is demand for natural and healthier foods.
This got Ricky Cassini and Mauricio Braia thinking.
With a background in industrial biotechnology, Mauricio teamed up with Ricky, a serial entrepreneur and business consultant.
To create a petroleum-free ingredient platform for natural colours, flavours and fragrances. Using fungi.
To compete in the premium natural ingredients segment.
And remove petroleum colorants from the food supply chain.
Using precision fermentation and synthetic biology, Michroma creates fungal biofactories to produce small molecules, like colours, more efficiently.
And bioreactors offer a proven, scalable pathway to produce natural colours, that outperform synthetic and carbon neutral dyes.
Today Michroma announced a $6.4 million Seed round with investment from HackCapital, Supply Change Capital, Be8 Ventures, CJ CheilJedang, FEN Ventures, Boro Capital, The Mills Fabrica, Portfolia’s Food & Ag Tech Fund, New Luna Ventures, Siddhi Capital, Groundswell Ventures, IndieBio, GRIDX
And Angel investors Allen Miner, Jun Ueki and Steve Zurcher from the Keiretsu Japan Forum, Guillermo Rosental, Franco Goytia, Pablo Pla and Mat Travizano.
This impressive funding round enables Michroma to:
Michroma’s first product is a high-performance, natural, vegan, GMO-free red colorant, called Red+.
A temperature-resistant and stable colourant that keeps its colour during pasteurisation, cooking, and extrusion.
With applications across frozen, fresh, convenient foods, supplements and beverages.
Now, Michroma are Red-y to bring a kaleidoscope of natural colours to our dinner tables around the world.a
Iceland produces 1.3 million tonnes of seafood annually, fishing makes up 40% of its GDP and its people consume 92 kg of seafood per person per year, more than any other country.
But even the most prolific fishing areas in the North Atlantic Ocean are threatened by climate change, overfishing and the country’s GDP in fishing is steadily decreasing.
This got American-Icelander Chris McClure thinking. Could Iceland future-proof its position as a heavy seafood producer and create a more resilient seafood economy by including plant-based and cultivated seafood?
Having been a vegan for decades, Chris has witnessed the increasing demand for plant-based alternatives in Iceland. From a handful of options, it is now home to the world’s largest fully vegan supermarket, Vegan Budin.
In early 2022 he founded Loki Foods with Bjorn Adalbjornsson, Chief Science Officer and Assistant Professor at the University of Iceland. Just as Iceland is known as the seafood capital of the world, they have ambitious plans to make Iceland famous for alternative seafood.
Using just a handful of ethically sourced, sustainable ingredients, their first product, Loki Fillet, is a plant-based alternative to white fish cod. Known to Icelanders as white gold.
The Loki Fillet tastes, looks and flakes just like traditional white cod. So it can be prepared and cooked in the same way as conventional seafood options.
Better still, it is nutritionally superior to conventional fish: high in omegas, iodines, low in salt and mercury and has the right balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat, without microplastics.
And he claims it to be a world first, made with 100% renewable energy.
To accelerate its plans, Loki Foods recently raised a pre-seed funding round of $650,000 from investors including FoodHack, Sustainable Food Ventures, MGMT Ventures, VegInvest, Lifely VC and Kale United.
The funding will be used for product development and building on their strong R&D foundation to develop a whole line of alternative seafood products from the Arctic in the coming years.
If the Loki Fillet can convince Icelanders to diversify their diets, it certainly cod be a catalyst for a wave of sustainable alternatives and exports for the nation.
The fermentation of food and drink can be traced back as far as 7,000BC.
Fast forward to today and entrepreneurs are applying this ancient process across the alternative protein sector to enhance the sensory and functional properties of their products.
Isabella Iglesias-Musachio knows the technology’s potential following a decade-long obsession experimenting with every type of fermentation.
Liquid state and solid state, from kombucha to cheese-making, to japanese fermentation and working with fungi.
In April 2020 she set out as the Founder of Bosque Foods to tackle issues of climate change, environmental degradation and animal welfare by developing a fermentation platform to cultivate mycelium - the "roots" of fungi.
Working with a team of scientists, they create minimally processed, clean-label, nutrient-dense, tasty mycelium ingredients and products.
Starting with whole-cut pork and chicken filets, she has already opened lab spaces on either side of the Atlantic, and secured $3M seed funding.
So, how did she gain the know-how to turn her passion into an emerging FoodTech company in just two years (and in the middle of a global pandemic)?
During Isabella’s studies in sustainable agriculture in the US, India, and Argentina, she learned about the systemic issues of our food system and how they link to issues of climate change and environmental degradation.
She gained first-hand experience of building early-stage startups and scaleups from scratch. She led the expansion of US-based tech startup Techshop in France, and scaled the operations of vertical farming German unicorn Infarm to the U.S., Canadian and Japanese markets.
Helping build and scale technology startups sparked her passion and fostered her entrepreneurial spirit.
And an idea had been brewing for quite some time.
In April 2020, just as the world went into lockdown, she founded Bosque Foods.
Isabella developed early prototypes with a biotechnologist and was soon accepted into IndieBio, the world's leading biotech accelerator program based in San Francisco and New York.
Following a $3M seed funding round led by FoodLabs, followed by Happiness Capital, SOSV, Blue Horizon, Blue Impact and Angel investors Arman Anaturk and Lawrence Leuschner, they opened a lab in Germany,
With a foothold in both the United States and Germany, Bosque Foods is a first mover in Europe with ambitions to bring their pioneering alternative protein solutions to markets around the globe.
In the meantime, they are doubling down on R&D to prove the scalability of their manufacturing process and aim to get their whole-cuts into the hands of mission-aligned chefs and restaurants this year.
By developing both proprietary fermentation technology and highly in-demand alternative protein products, they are en route to building a more sustainable, equitable and animal-free food system.
The sky really is the limit.
“Can I taste it?” is a guaranteed question an investor will ask an alternative protein founder.
And rightly so.
Taste is the top reason we choose plant-based protein products, according to consumer researcher, Mintel.
But this pressure to develop prototypes and prepare a go-to-market strategy can lead startups to revert to existing ingredients and tool kits.
Creating new recipes, not new technologies.
As an active investor and mentor to startups in alt protein, Chris Bryson saw fewer early-stage founders advancing plant-based products' taste, texture and appearance with novel, proprietary technologies.
This got him thinking.
When he sold his former company Unata to Instacart in 2018, Chris began to peer behind the curtain and learn about our broken food system.
Feeling compelled to help, he began to put his time and money into various solutions.
First he started investing in startups.
And then Chris founded New School Foods to fund a series of R&D projects.
He sponsored academic research into alternative processing technologies, scaffolding techniques, new ingredients, and new flavour developments related to whole cut meats.
After three years of partnering with leading food science universities, New School Foods developed a set novel food structuring technologies to deliver a number of firsts for the meat alternative industry:
New School Foods’ first product: plant-based salmon filet looks, cooks, tastes, and flakes just like wild salmon
And today New School Foods announced a raise of $12 million USD in seed funding from investors including HackCapital, Lever VC, Blue Horizon, Hatch, Good Startup, Alwyn Capital, Joyance Partners, and others, as well as grants from multiple Canadian government grant agencies.
The fundraise will support New School Foods' expansion from lab to pilot scale, as they move into a new facility, start commercial distribution and set up a production assembly line.
And with taste a top priority for this alt protein startup, they aren't planning to scale back their product improvements and R&D anytime soon.
Their o-fish-al product launch will be one to watch out for.
Today the international cheese market is worth $200B. And the vegan cheese market is expected to rise to $7.10B by 2030.
But although demand for alternative cheese is on the rise, few startups have successfully replicated its meltability, functionality, taste and texture.
This got Nathalie and Maya thinking.
Could they combine their expertise to replicate the taste, texture and nutrition of conventional cheese through precision fermentation to offer a more sustainable way to enjoy dairy?
Turns out they could.
Here’s how it began:
Nathalie Rolland comes from a family of animal farmers.
She co-founded Agriculture Cellulaire France and was a researcher in consumer acceptance of cultured meat at both the University of Maastricht and the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRAE).
She was also a cellular agriculture specialist at ProVeg International.
Maya Bendifallah brings her years of scientific expertise including a Master’s and a PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology where she studied the structures and dynamics of proteins similar to caseins.
Driven by the alternative protein momentum and convinced they could both play a part in creating a more sustainable future, they teamed up to found Nutropy in 2021.
Together they are on a mission to reinvent premium cheese through precision fermentation, whilst combining traditional French cheese making processes.
So how are they doing this?
Nutropy programmes yeast to produce bio-identical milk ingredients, which are fed sugars, minerals and vitamins in bioreactors to produce milk ingredients that are harvested.
And their first aged cheeses have the potential to use significantly less natural resources, emit less greenhouse gasses and are free from lactose and cholesterol.
Today they announced a €2M funding round from FoodHack, Beast, Big Idea Ventures, Trellis Road, VegCapital, Techmind, FoodTech angels and the French government.
Nutropy are already collaborating with industrial cheese producers and French cheese specialists. And now they are kickstarting the pilot production of their milk ingredients.
With their drive to create more sustainable premium cheese and respect for traditions, next generation alternatives could be served on our next cheese board very soon.
Fermentation-based technologies to make proteins have been around for many years. But several challenges often limit their application and economic feasibility.
The process of making these proteins is very costly and high risk.
Problems include achieving high yield, overcoming infrastructure bottlenecks and the threat of contamination.
This got Mohammad El Hajj thinking.
He studied biological systems to make recombinant proteins at the University of Manchester in the UK.
And saw that we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of plant biotechnology.
During his PhD, Mohammad focused on chloroplasts as vehicles to make recombinant proteins and overcame hurdles in the regulatory framework to facilitate the technology's commercialisation.
He and his team developed a safe, low-cost, low-carbon manufacturing process that enables extraordinarily high yields of proteins from tobacco leaves.
And so Bright Biotech was launched. With a quintet of co-founders.
Mohammad has joined forces with his University supervisor, Anil Day, and former employers and business mentors, Tariq Ali and Farid Khan, along with Rania Deranieh, an expert in cell culture.
Their system has applications across clinical, cosmetic and medical industries.
So why did they focus on the cultivated meat industry, a comparatively smaller, less developed market?
One barrier for cultivated meat is the high cost and availability of growth factors.
And since Bright Biotech can make them in large quantities at very low cost, they can directly impact the goal of achieving price parity for cultivated meat to reduce our unsustainable reliance on animal agriculture.
Plus no other competing system has reported such high yield with ultra-high scalability.
In numbers: Tobacco generates more than 10,000 seeds per plant and produces a very high fresh leaf biomass: 100 metric tonnes per hectare a year. This can produce 200 kilograms of growth factors and 100,000 metric tonnes of cultivated meat.
The plants of Bright Biotech are the bioreactors and produce proteins with only light, water and CO2:
Now to scale:
Bright Biotech are currently fine-tuning their prototype with CPI’s innovation services to produce their proteins at commercial scale.
And today, they announced a seed funding raise of $3.2M with investment from the FoodHack Syndicate, FoodLabs, Big Idea Ventures, CPT Capital and other business angels.
So what’s next?
They’ll expand their product portfolio by generating plants that make different growth factors, develop in-house protocols for validating the growth factors and expand their team.
They also plan to develop standardised protocols that are reproducible, make commercial volumes and fulfill orders in 2023.
And with that, the cultivated meat industry can move one step closer to achieving (or beating) price parity and serve it to consumers around the world.
As soon as next year? With technologies like Bright Biotech's coming out of stealth, it may well happen sooner than you think.
The future's certainly bright.
The alternative dairy market is projected to grow to $61.43 billion USD by 2029.
But replicating the creamy sensation consumers crave in traditional dairy is a complex challenge.
Coconut, vegetable oils and nuts are popular alternatives but they lack the structures found in yeast to give it that sought-after creamy mouthfeel.
Tomas Turner believes he has found the solution. Unintentionally.
So how did it all begin?
Tomas first learnt about the alternative protein industry and met various members of the Good Food Institute as co-founder of his local Effective Altruism chapter in Lausanne, Switzerland.
And in April 2019, he gained first hand experience as an R&D intern at Planted, Zurich under the supervision of Lukas Boni, the startup’s co-founder.
Through his network he heard that breakthroughs in fats produced by microbial sources were widely neglected, even though they had a strong chance of disrupting the industry.
So when he returned to complete his Master’s thesis at the University of Geneva, he focused on researching the microbial production of milk fat.
As Tomas tested his extraction process he didn't recover pure fat, he instead had a white creamy ingredient with no GMO, lactose or cholesterol.
Soon after graduating, he won the WUR Rethink Protein challenge, validating the technology’s potential. So he teamed up with Dimitri Zogg to found Cultivated Biosciences with the goal of developing clean-label, creamy alternative fat ingredients for plant-based dairy.
The co-founders had met several years before on a 3-day hiking trip across the Gruyère mountains, a region famous for its deliciously rich double cream.
The pair have now fittingly gone on to develop an equally rich alternative dairy ingredient.
Today, Cultivated Biosciences has announced a $1.5M pre-seed from investors, including FoodHack, Wingman Ventures, Big Idea Ventures, Blue Horizon, Proveg International, EVERY’s Arturo with the support of ex-supervisor-turned-advisor Lukas Böni.
Their proof of concept delivers on creaminess so now they are set on improving their bioprocess to make it economically viable and scalable as well as fine tuning their technology to fit the properties of different foods.
In just 12 months they plan to have very close partnerships with brands incorporating their ingredients, so consumers will finally be able to enjoy their creamy delicious plant-based products, without compromise.
Previous-generation technologies such as nylon and polyester are becoming less sustainable and economically viable with each passing year.
And with the global fashion industry valued at $3 trillion, even niche segments tackling circularity and animal-based materials represent billion dollar opportunities.
But solving the complexities of the fashion industry at scale requires a fundamental understanding of how breakthrough circular approaches can supplant previous material innovations.
With over 30 years’ experience in materials and biomimetics behind him, Melik Demirel is taking his research out of the lab, from proof of concept and into commercialisation.
The Penn State University Huck Endowed Chair Professor has teamed up with two recognised experts in biomimetic design, Benjamin Allen, PhD, and Gozde Senel-Ayaz, PhD to found Tandem Repeat and bring their proprietary Squitex biofermentation technology to the fashion industry.
By mimicking squid genes, they have developed a sustainable, non-polluting replacement for petroleum-based fibers that is biodegradable and environment-friendly.
It’s the first of its kind.
The all-natural performance fabric is sustainable, strong, flexible, self-healing, thermally responsive and adaptable to existing manufacturing processes.
With elasticity a key performance characteristic, Squitex can be blended with natural materials for almost all types of clothing. And its versatility means it can replace non-sustainable cotton, polyester, elastane blends with a fully sustainable alternative.
Whilst we can’t add this squid-gene inspired material to our wardrobe just yet, it’s only a matter of time. They have plans to build a successful clothing line based on Squitex’s novel properties.
In the meantime, ink-redible traction is growing.
Tandem Repeat has been recognised by H&M Foundation for Global Change, Tommy Hilfifer Social Innovation Challenge, Microfiber Innovation Challenge Prize and US Department of Energy Contract to name a few.
And they have 5 patents issued, letters of intent received, contracts in the pipeline and a Seed round (with FoodHack one of the investors) closing imminently as they aim to to become a DeepTech unicorn in the next 5 years.
For now they are focused on minimizing engineering and technical risks, building up their technical and business teams, developing producibility assessments of key technologies as well as techno-economic cost models.
With the potential to expand across the textile, medical and cosmetic markets, Tandem Repeat is only scratching the surface as they continue to unlock new applications through sustainable synthetic biology.
There are over 10,000 different recorded species of mushrooms in the world. They are a sustainable, meaty and nutrient-rich food source.
So, why are only a handful of varieties available on supermarket shelves?
The delicate and irregular shape of gourmet mushrooms means carefully growing, harvesting and packaging them requires significant labour and is difficult to automate.
Labour makes up to 80% of production costs for mushroom farmers.
This got Stanford grads Jamie Balsillie and Wilson Ruotolo thinking.
How could they automate existing mushroom farms? They explored adding AI and robotics technology to legacy farms, bringing down labor costs and getting mushroom harvesting to a consumer friendly price.
It wasn’t the silver bullet they had hoped for.
Instead they needed to design a purpose-built, fully-automated farm from the ground up. A considerably bigger task.
In January 2022, Jamie and Wilson founded Hedgehog to build robotic mushroom farms to unleash fungi as our next major food source.
With Wilson’s expertise in dexterous manipulation robotics and with technology to simulate gentle gecko-like robotic hands, the pair believe this can be applied, at scale, to carefully harvest and package mushrooms.
And so too do Y Combinator.
Earlier this month, Hedgehog announced they have been accepted into Y Combinator’s prestigious S22 cohort to finetune their robotics technology.
Having already raised $1.8M from investors including FoodHack (and additional fundraising plans in the pipeline), the founders are currently working on prototypes and iterating on agronomy.
In addition to iterating their harvesting and packaging robotics, they are developing AI and computer vision to decide optimum picking time, and going from proof of concept to on-farm implementation.
As early as 2023, they are planning to scale their production capacity to 50-100,000 lbs of specialty mushrooms per year.
By bringing more varieties of mushrooms to consumers at an affordable price, they hope to kickstart a wider adoption of the nutritious ingredient.
Now Hedgehog are focused on building the robotics and software to bring gourmet mushrooms to the masses.
Combining biopharma and foodtech to advance alternative whole cuts 👇
The balancing act of meeting (and surpassing) consumer expectations to replicate authenticity, taste and texture in plant-based whole cuts is no small task.
Add to that the goals of scalability and maintaining affordability.
And in parallel, developing cultured meat whole cut alternatives.
Meet Insa Mohr and Jochen Mueller, the Co-Founders of Mooji Meats, rising to the challenge.
Having an impressive track record in the biopharma industry and with years of experience working with bioprocessing businesses, Insa realised the parallels between biopharma and the foodtech industry.
Discovering that one of the biggest challenges for plant-based meat and lab-grown meat is the realistic replication of whole cuts, she immediately thought of bioprinting used to replicate real tissues today.
Insa sought a similarly exceptional partner to achieve her goal of establishing a game-changing bioprocessing/bioprinting company to disrupt the alternative meat industry.
Joining forces with her good friend Jochen Mueller from Harvard School of Engineering who she notes as ‘one of the best people to bring scalable bioprinting to the food industry’ they founded Mooji Meats.
Insa led the company’s initial funding round and secured $3 million in May 2022. Under Insa’s leadership, Insa and Jochen are well on track to developing alternatives to existing texturing technologies in plant and cultured whole cuts using 3D printing.
Hack Ventures, The Good Startup, Collaborative Fund, Lever VC and AgFunder all participated in the company's recent raise which is being used to grow their lab, hire new talent and develop their prototype.
Mooji Meats now has the potential to apply their 3D printing technology, which can simultaneously print with hundreds of nozzles to extrude alternative meats, cost effectively and at scale.
By closing the gap between mimicking meat and real meat, the startup is poised to take a (sizable) share of the $1 trillion US meat market.
‘‘I believe that the times where meat is associated with harming animals will be history one day. Once we have authentic plant-based meat and lab-grown meat, meat will turn into something that cherishes animals. Imagine eating a delicious steak in a restaurant and seeing the happy cow that donated the meat running around a field in plain view,’ shares Insa Mohr, Co-Founder.
Given the Baltimore-based startup’s technology aims to inexpensively produce scalable and texturised whole cuts, we hope it won’t be too long before chicken breasts, tuna fillets, wagyu steaks can be enjoyed (sustainably) by vegans, vegetarians and meat eaters in the US and beyond.
Having just built their lab, the duo (and recent talented hires) are finishing their prototype with the three pillars of texture, cost and scale in mind, and will be ready to update us later this year. Stay tuned!
Growing up in a family of entrepreneurs, Daniel MacGowan always knew he wanted to start something of his own.
Intitally he took the typical path, studied law, worked at a large firm, followed by a stint in investment banking.
Today he's an exited founder thats building his second business, Kynda, producing mycelium based meats, has become one of the most active European angel investors in FoodTech and built up an an impressive portfolio of companies backed.
But how did he get there?
In 2013 Dan founded Otto’s Burger in Hamburg, Germany, inspired by Patty & Bun and Honest Burger who he saw were rapidly expanding across the UK.
His success at Otto’s Burger brought him face-to-face with the reality of meat production at scale. He saw the slaughter process first hand and decided to offer more vegan products to their customers (this was way before alt protein was even considered a thing).
At first - they didn't see much interest from customers.
But then the Beyond Meat buzz began.
As one of the first restaurants in Germany to sell Beyond, Dan was early to see that consumers actually were open to replace their meat patties with plant based versions - and this sparked his next idea.
Dan and his co-founder started creating vegan meat patties and nuggets of their own and a few tests and iterations later, Kynda was born.
In 2020 Dan sold his first business, Otto’s Burger to a private equity company. This gave him the time to fully focus on his next venture and the capital to start angel investing.
Since then he's been growing a portfolio of investments that include MeliBio, Nowadays, Plantish, Hyfe Foods, Mooji Meats and is now looking to back startups enabling technologies and infrastructure within the alternative protein space.
Besides investing capital, Dan brings with him first-hand operational experience of building and exiting his first company and his own continuing learning from founding and scaling up a FoodTech startup.
Since 2021 Dan has been an active part of the FoodHack syndicate, championing for the next wave of alt protein founders and providing them with the capital and expertise to continue growing their business.
And what’s the latest at Otto’s Burger?
Kynda’s products are on the menu and most recently meat-free has become the standard, and ‘with meat’ is an optional extra cost.
As a teen entrepreneur turned seasoned founder, Ryan Grant Little is now an angel investor backing 16 (and counting) FoodTech startups.
Ryan’s drive to transform our broken food system can be traced back to the hundreds of hours he spent on the kill floors of North America’s largest slaughterhouses.
He was the founder of a biogas company, and slaughterhouse waste was the most valuable feedstock.
Just last year when Ryan exited a company and sold his shares, he had both the rainy day cash and motivation to start impact investing.
After listening to Bruce Friedrich on Ezra Klein’s podcast, Ryan was instantly hooked by the innovation happening in the plant based space.
In September 2021 at the Good Food Institute Conference he started building up his connections in the industry and got first-hand exposure to some of the best and brightest minds in this space.
This confirmed his decision to *slowly* dip his toes into the (alt protein) water.
Today, 10 months since his first foray into alt protein, he is already advising multiple FoodTech startups, has invested in 16 of them and is a FoodHack Ambassador in his local city of Vienna.
Whether you’d consider this active or impulsive investing, it’s not without careful (slightly unconventional) due diligence.
Ryan admits he can’t capitalise on the opportunities in alt protein’s white space nor understand the science quickly enough if he works alone.
And so he collaborates with like-minded investors through the FoodHack Syndicate, joins in the deals they are investing in and benefits from the collective intelligence to diligence startups.
So are his days as a serial founder over?
No, not yet. He says he’s still got one or two more startups in him. But for now he’s passing on his knowledge to fellow founders and sharing the multiple challenges he’s overcome.
Two things in Ryan’s interest - the expansive opportunities that come with mycelium for foods and companies which are working on cultivated pet food so he can feed his cat sustainably.
The next 12 months will offer a myriad of opportunities to support pioneering founders and Ryan will no doubt be behind a handful (or more) of the most impactful startups breaking onto the scene.
If you’re interested in angel investing in FoodTech and ClimateTech startups with the Syndicate, apply today.
Meet the 3 brothers growing one of the worlds most sustainable proteins 👇
Their idea for Brevel first began with a simple question:
"How can we find solutions that could feed our growing population sustainably and ethically."
Luckily for them - they had all the skills and ambition between them to find a solution to this age old question.
Ido had worked as a chief engineer in a microalgae company and realized the potential impact of these microscopic organisms.
Matan was a medical doctor who saw the health and wellbeing value that came with microalgae consumption.
And Yonatan was the visionary vegan who was driven to find solutions to feed our growing population sustainably and ethically.
The 3 of them decided to team up and work together - and set off to find a way to bring microalage to masses.
One of their breakthroughs was to combine sugar-based fermentation of microalgae with a high concentration of light at industrial scale.
The end results is the production of non-GMO microalgae at cost levels comparable to pea and soy.
Today the company is piloting their micoalgae solutions with Food & Beverage leaders across the globe - resulting in an improved nutritional profile of products without changing taste, color, texture, or cost for the end consumer.
Brevel’s vision attracted the attention of leading FoodTech VC's and the company just announced the close of an $8.4 million seed funding round together with Good Startup, Tet Ventures, NevaTeam Ventures and FoodHack
The team are now in the process of scaling up and establishing their pilot facility - getting closer by the day to bringing sustainable and nutritious microalgae to the masses.