The Found8 monthly Meet The VCs event is a Found8 original initiative to drive early-stage investment knowledge to share with our members and the greater innovation community. Kicking off the first MTVC for 2020, we are honoured to have Christian Cadeo, Managing Partner for Big Idea Ventures in Asia to Found8 High Street Center to share their knowledge on the future FoodTech and Food, along with Rayner Loi, Co-founder and CEO of Lumitics.
Christian Cadeo is currently the Managing Partner for Big Idea Ventures, an alternative protein venture capital fund based in New York and Singapore with primary investments from Temasek Holdings and Tyson Food. Coming from, AdMob which was eventually acquired by Google for US$750MM, and JUST which raised US$372MM, Christian has extensive experience working at some of the largest companies in the world.
In this Found8 Meet the VC, we gain valuable insights into the developments
in the FoodTech space in the coming years, the process of investing in ideas and people starting FoodTech startups, and the BIV application process for funding.
Meet the VC: Big Idea Ventures
The Focus on Alternative Proteins
BIV chose to focus on alternative proteins for 3 key reasons.
1. The capitol potential in this space is enormous – Impossible Foods just raised funding of $300M, Beyond Meat has raised a total of $122M in funding over 7 rounds; the capital being raised and capital being offered in FoodTech is one of the largest in a single industry right now.
2. Consumers are driving the demand of eating better, and being better to the environment. There is a new level of awareness of what people are consuming and its effect on the future of this planet.
3. Cadeo explained that the product has guaranteed growth, because, put simply “everyone needs to eat”, and with the increasing scrutiny on the farming industry, alternative proteins has a secure development path unlike a lot of other industries/verticals.
A Look at the BIV Portfolio Companies
Confetti Fine Foods was started by Betty Lu, a Singapore based entrepreneur. Confetti Fine Foods chips are colourful vegetables treated with unique Food Tech allowing them to retain over 80% of their original nutritional value. This compared to regular baked potato chips that contain >5% of it’s orignial nutritional value, allows people to snack on whole vegetables in a delicious on the go.
Gormey from France is using cells taken from duck liver, and cultivating foie gras in a lab, aiming to reduce both environmental and animal cruelty aspects of the foie gras industry in France.
Starting Your Own Food Tech Company
Cadeo explained ‘don’t be scared away by the term food tech’ – you don’t need a technology background to start a Food Tech company. Where they we get their biggest returns are from the culinary players – people interested primarily in how things taste. Once the idea is fleshed out, you can find the right people to fill in the technology gaps, and build fully functional team.
Additionally Cadeo explained that big players in the food industry are also madly looking for new ideas. They’re looking for young companies in the white space of food tech to lead the innovation path for both them, and the industry.
BIV has 2 cohorts a year. The process is as follows:
- Apply for the cohort (twice a year)
- Get a $200 k investment for 7% of the company
- Work with the BIV team for 5 months under their supportive leadership
- After this period, BIV provides access and sets up a personal demo day for your company and others in the cohort, where we present your product to other investors for the next round.
- Following this, BIV gives you the option to come back and access additional capital.
What are you looking out for when reviewing deals?
When reviewing deals, BIV is really looking for companies that have already obtained a Minimal Viable Product.
Alternative protein: Where does the meat go?
One of the realities of new technologies is that some areas of industries, or entire sections, will become redundant – this is a reality in every industry in the world coming into the new decade. For FoodTech, the area that faces this threat is the livestock farming industry.
Cadeo explains that this is an unavoidable effect of the world moving towards consuming more sustainable protein. He explains that we need to help these people to adapt and move with the industry as it moves, in order to avoid falling behind. Agriculture will see a bomb over the next 10 years with funds like BIV is investing in companies that are collaborating with sustainable farms .
Threats in the Alternatives Protein Industry
BIV’s goal is that within the next 10 years, for every product containing animal product in a supermarket, there is an equal plant-based alternatives available. Cadeo explained that the biggest threat to reaching this goal is a lack of entrepreneurs. Not finding enough entrepreneurs with great ideas that can be developed into a consumable product is one of BIV’s and the industries biggest risk.
Biggest opportunity in The Food Tech Industry
Food Tech is still very much a ‘white space’ for entrepreneurs to develop ideas, and cause incredible change. Food Tech has been around for hundreds of years – tofu bacon, veggie burgers etc – but the extent of its growth has only taken off in the last 10 years. Why?
In order to get people to change their food habits for good, we need to start by making food taste just as good as, or even better than, their equivalent meat product. We now have the technology to do just that, but that’s only the first step. From there, we need to focus on working backwards adding nutritional value, reducing waste and improving sustainability, so this product isn’t just good to taste but good for the environment, and good for the consumer.
Additionally, Cadeo explained that the Singapore government is one of the fastest and most generous government they’ve experienced for entrepreneurs attempting to launch a product. As a market, the encouragement for setting up and developing a product is overwhelming in Singapore.
Talent and People
What are Food Tech Companies Looking for In Talent
Internally in BIV, Cadeo is looking for a) a sense of hustle and b) passion for what they’re attempting to do – change the way the world consumes food.
For BIV portfolio company owners, Cadeo is looking for entreprenurs that have a vision for their product – where they want to be, what they want to achieve with this product, the impact they want to have on the world. He explains it doesn’t have to be fully fleshed out, but the vision has to be there.