Impact investor and Wild Earth CEO Ryan Bethencourt and Finless Foods’ former head of science Mariliis Holm unveiled this week a new fund for early-stage founders working in the alternative protein space. Sustainable Food Ventures (SFV) is the first rolling fund on the AngelList platform and will work with cell-based, plant-based, and recombinant companies. The Plant CEO podcast was first to break the news.
The fund specifically looks for young CPG companies working in the cell, plant, and recombinant spaces to make food products more sustainable and better for the planet. SFV clearly states on its website that it does not invest in companies involved with animal agriculture.
As Bethencourt and Holm discussed on the Plant CEO podcast, SFV is a rolling fund, where investments are are made each quarter of the year rather than as a single lump sum. Bethencourt said this approach is “democratizing access to earlier stage investments” because it allows individual investors to contribute smaller amounts of money to a company (e.g., $10,000). Previously, there was “no vehicle” in which to contribute these small amounts.
“I think it’s going to be a huge game-changer for founders who would like to do more to help their fellow founders,” he said. For example, Dr. Sandhya Sriram, cofounder and CEO of Shiok Meats, is already committed to the fund.
The fund will also look for what Bethencourt and Holm call “under-appreciated founders”—that is, women, minorities, and those who don’t fit the age range or geographic location of the average tech startup founder. SFV itself is based in North Carolina, not the typical location for a tech startup.
So far, SFV’s fund has over $1.5 million committed for this quarter and aims to reach a total fund size between $6 million and $10 million over the next year. The fund will invest between $50,000 and $150,000 into each company.
Both Bethencourt and Holm have a long history in the food tech world. Outside of Wild Earth, Bethencourt has backed numerous early-stage startups including Shiok Meats, The NotCo, Geltor, and Memphis Meats. Holmes co-founded alt-protein company Nonfood before her work at Finless Foods.