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food investor network includes Bill Maris, Kyle Vogt

By dailymail / Published on Saturday, 12 Aug 2017 19:40 PM / No Comments


The vegan mafia is not restricting itself to entrepreneurs who don’t eat meat. Many of the founders of their portfolio companies are more concerned with the environmental or societal impacts of meat, for instance, or are looking for new ways to feed a growing global population.

“A lot of people who are involved in our space are not vegan, but they view the current system as unsustainable,” explained Rasch of VegInvest.

Some of the investors, like Vogt, have day jobs but invest in the space on the side. Vogt made the decision to go vegan about a year ago, after his wife opened a farm animal rescue. If she was spending her time saving animals, he figured that he shouldn’t be eating them.

“As an engineer, I feel compelled to do what I can to have the best possible impact on society,” he said. In Vogt’s view, one approach is to appeal to people’s hearts. Another, which he also finds compelling, is to convince people in a more pragmatic way. It’s possible, he believes, to make alternatives to existing food sources that are both “better tasting and cheaper.”

“These are fundamentally great businesses,” he said. “And if they succeed, they will have an advantage over food that was raised in the traditional way.”

That view is also shared by Bannon, who invests in early-stage companies that are mission-driven but also make money. Bannon and his co-founder Ela Madej are both vegans, but stress that they’re not in it purely for philanthropic reasons.

“The case for giving up meat is clear: There’s a health case, an environmental case,” he said. “But we have largely given up on education as a tool for convincing people.”

Bannon says the entrepreneurs in his network are instead approaching the market with a “strict business lens.”

As a result, the space is attracting investors who aren’t vegan or vegetarian but see a way to make a solid return. Silicon Valley venture funds like Obvious Ventures are investing both in companies that are making it easy for people to access fresh, local food, including meat and fish, as well as plant-based alternatives.

“This isn’t about kale and tofu,” explained Rasch, who went vegan more than a decade ago. “Well, some of it is, but it’s also about bringing new biotech to food, drugs and materials.”