Faced with the challenge of feeding a planet of 10 billion people in the midst of a climate crisis, it’s never been more crucial for the world to shift towards a more sustainable food system. Making it their mission to support entrepreneurs and startups who are innovating solutions for a sustainable, healthy and nutritious food system across the world, these six women VCs are paving the way by investing in the new food revolution and in most cases, championing racial, socio-economic and gender diversity among founding teams..
1. Alicia Robb (US)
CEO of Next Wave Impact, Advisory Board of GFI
Alicia Robb is an angel investor and managing partner of two early stage venture funds. As the founder and CEO of Next Wave Impact, a Boulder, Colorado-based VC firm on a mission to increase diversity in angel investing and high growth entrepreneurship. As a plant-based investor, Robb has supported a plethora of animal-free food techs, including cell-based seafood maker Finless Foods, BillionVegans, Vegan Fine Foods, and the Gold Leaf Collective. Robb is also on the advisory board of the Good Food Institute (GFI), a nonprofit dedicated to growing and accelerating the alternative protein revolution.
When you look at the gender and racial gaps in high growth entrepreneurship, one reason is because they get only a tiny fraction of venture capital and angel financing.Alicia Robb in an interview with Real Leaders
2. Rosie Wardle (UK)
Investor at CPT Capital, Senior Advisor at the FAIRR Initiative
Based in London, Rosie Wardle is an investor at CPT Capital, a venture capital supporting startups and entrepreneurs who are developing the future of food and materials. Wardle is also a senior advisor to the FAIRR Initiative, a global collaborative network of investors addressing ESG risks and opportunities across the protein value chain that encourages investors to safeguard their portfolios using responsible strategies. Many of the biggest food techs feature amongst Wardle’s alternative protein investments, such as Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, Good Catch, OmniFoods, Alpha Foods, Kite Hill, Clara Foods, Perfect Day and many more.
Essentially, what we’re trying to do is raise awareness among investors about the impacts of the current supply chain [and] we are asking the companies to diversify their protein.Rosie Wardle, in an interview with GreenBiz
3. Samantha Wong (New Zealand)
Partner at Blackbird Ventures, Mentor at Startmate
New Zealander Samantha Wong is a partner at Blackbird Ventures, a Surry Hill, New South Wales-based VC dedicated to “supercharge” Australia and New Zealand’s pioneering startups. Wong led the firm’s alt protein investment in exotic cell-based meats maker Vow Foods, and Blackbird also backs plant-based meat brand Fable Food Co. and Sunfed, a company making boar-free bacon and chicken-free chicken. Wong is also a mentor at Startmate, a Sydney-headquartered financial services firm operating accelerator and fellowship programs for entrepreneurs across Australia and New Zealand.
We look for the crazy dreamers who think really big and aren’t afraid to look beyond what might seem weird or too hard on the surface. You see that in companies like Rocket Lab, Soul Machines, Lanzatech and Sunfed. We’re excited to meet the founders following in their footsteps.Samantha Wong, in an interview with Idea Log
4. Ela Madej (Poland / US)
Co-Founder & Partner at Fifty Years, Y Combinator Alum
Ela Madej is an entrepreneur and investor who has co-founded Fifty Years, a San Francisco-based seed fund that backs businesses that are solving the world’s biggest problems, from health tech to clean energy. Within Fifty Years’ portfolio are a number of sustainable alternative protein startups, including animal-free ingredients maker Geltor and leading cell-based meat firm Memphis Meats. Apart from investing with Fifty Years, Madej is a vegan, a Y Combinator alum and founder of impact.tech, a community of people from the tech industry who are seeking to drive purpose-led profits. She is also a board member of Rebellyous Foods, a Seattle startup offering plant-based chicken nuggets, patties and chicken strips.
We need a pandemic-proof food system that can meet the nutritional needs of our growing human family. We’re also happy to support job creation in a time when many other businesses are having to lay off workers.Ela Madej, in an interview with Food Business News
5. Lisa Feria (Puerto Rico / US)
CEO of Stray Dog Capital
Hailing from Puerto Rico and now based in Kansas, Lisa Feria is the CEO of Stray Dog Capital, a venture capital firm dedicated to early-stage startups and products that seek to eliminate animals from the supply chain. Leading the mission-driven VC, Feria has made alternative protein investments into numerous cell-based and plant-based food techs, including some of the most recognisable startups such as Meatless Farm Co, Alpha Foods, Miyoko’s Creamery, Beyond Meat, Good Seed Burger, Memphis Meats and SuperMeat.
It has to be better. As it relates to taste, as it relates to price, we’ve got to get to a point where these alternative products or these products are a no-brainer. They’re better for the environment, they taste amazing, they’re the right price. Up until we get to that point, then it’s really difficult to be completely successful.Lisa Feria, in an interview with Food Business News
6. Matilda Ho (China)
Founder & Managing Director of Bits & Bites, Founder of Yimishiji
Matilda Ho is the founder and managing director of Bits x Bites, China’s first food tech venture capital investment firm financing the leading startups that are developing sustainable solutions for the challenges of our broken global food system. To date, Bits x Bites has provided funding to a wide range of companies, from plant-based protein innovators and startups developing functional chickpea-based protein ingredients to AI-forward firms and indoor farming solutions. Some of the investments that Ho has led within the alternative protein world include Future Meat, InnovoPro and Wild Earth.
With a mission to shape the future of good food, Bits x Bites is a big step forward to inspire and support the entrepreneurial community to bring new ideas for solving global issues.Matilda Ho, in an interview with Deal Street Asia
Lead image designed by Green Queen, individual photos as credited above.