Capsule Hack is supported by many innovative organizations, including our friends over at Big Idea Ventures! Big Idea Ventures invests in new ideas and entrepreneurs who aim to fight tough problems, and has already begun to make strides. Capsule Hack had a chance to get the inside view on Big Idea Ventures after a great conversation with Kitty Lang, the Program Associate at BIV’s New York office.
What was the spark to launch Big Idea Ventures and what are the origins of the organization?
Big Idea Ventures was started by our founder and Managing General Partner, Andrew D. Ive, who used to run the Food-X accelerator and is one of the most active investors in the food space. Food is something that connects everyone, no matter your beliefs, culture, experiences, or values. We believe that in order to shift the culture around animal consumption, we need to be making alternative options much better. At the end of the day, people’s diets will become more plant-based because the food is delicious, affordable, and accessible.
We currently have two offices/accelerator locations, one in NYC and one in Singapore. Both locations run two accelerators a year; each accelerator program is a five month in-person program where we help the companies scale their production, find co-packers, provide mentorship, get distribution, and meet investors.
What does the relationship with Capsule Hack mean to Big Ideas Ventures?
I’m really glad that BIV is a Challenge and Innovation Partner with Capsule Hack because solving global warming is an opportunity for all industries, communities, and disciplines to come together and do much more than we can do alone. I’m excited to see all the great ideas that will come from Capsule Hack.
Big Idea Ventures plays an important role in nurturing entrepreneurs aimed at fixing complex problems. What sort of big ideas and ventures are you looking to invest in?
We invest in pre-seed and seed stage startups who are looking to scale and grow their businesses quickly. We focus specifically on plant-based and cell-based products in the growing alternative protein sector; however, we will consider non-food startups that are in the same vein. We exist to support mission-driven entrepreneurs who are creating better options to shift the future of food; we are working with them to make the industry and its practices more sustainable for our planet, the animals, and our health.
The New Protein Fund focuses on moving towards plant-based diets. What growth have you seen since launching those programs?
We exist because there has been a huge amount of investment interest in the alternative protein space. The two largest LPs in our first fund, the New Protein Fund, are Tyson Ventures (yes, the meat Tyson) and Temasek Holdings (the Singaporean government). We’ve seen a lot of interest from the private sector, including many traditional meat and dairy producers wanting to get into the plant-based space because they know that’s where the industry is going. Some governments, such as Singapore’s, are now realizing the importance of creating their own food instead of having to depend on imports, which are usually unsustainable from both an economic and environmental standpoint.
With the COVID-19 crisis, we are already seeing an uptick in alternative protein innovation from China as they consider modernizing and improving their food systems. Feeding the world is a systems issue that we are all facing and we believe there are long-term sustainable ways to do it. The hard part is starting the movement and aligning incentives in order to shift the culture around food.
What is the difference between a direct investment with Big Idea Ventures or applying to the New Protein Accelerator?
We do much fewer direct investments, as our focus is more on accelerator investments and then following on with more capital. A direct investment from us is usually for later stage startups with a lot of traction who are raising their seed or A round. I would say that if you’re interested in working with us, definitely apply to the accelerator first because you never know where that conversation will go. Most of the companies in our accelerator are trying to scale so we’re able to help them get a co-packer, distributors for both retail and food service, and professional services for marketing, legal, accounting, HR and many useful connections.
We have an extensive investor network and are able to help founders raise money more easily and quicker than if they were trying to raise by themselves. We also invest follow-on capital of up to 3.5M after the accelerator program to keep supporting our founders and maintaining our ownership as the companies grow.
What new locations, programs, or growth are coming to Big Idea Ventures?
We’re always trying to find partners and collaborators in different industries to work with because there is so much to do in this space. There’s been a lot of interest from both corporations and governments, as more and more of the world is realizing that our food systems need to be sustainable and respectful of all stakeholders.
We are planning to open new locations as demand rises. We want to support and grow as many entrepreneurs as possible with our resources. Some locations that we’ve considered include Los Angeles, Paris, Berlin, and Mumbai. Our expansion will depend on which locations and partners have the most interest in starting an accelerator with us.
How can people support the work of Big Ideas Ventures?
Go vegan! Just kidding, kind of.
I really hope more people are open to trying new foods and are willing to consider transitioning into a more plant based diet in the coming years. If you are interested in learning more about plant based diets and animal farming, I highly recommend watching The Gamechangers , Forks over Knives, and Dominion.
What should people know about applying to Big Idea Ventures?
If you want to grow your business and get early stage investment, definitely consider applying to our accelerator program. We have worked with a wide range of founders from those who have never sold their product to those who have been selling their product for years.
Our first cohort consisted of 12 companies across the two locations with products including plant milks, cheese-free cheeses, vegetable snacks, condiments, cell-based foie gras, plant-based minced pork, jackfruit dim sum, and plant-based lamb.
Check out our blog to learn more about the application process and what we look for in a strong application. Don’t hesitate to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested and have questions for us 🙂
Big Ideas Ventures might be looking for you! The list of companies they have invested in keeps growing, right now it includes graduates from the New York and Singapore office:
Uproot: Provider of B2B plant-based milks and bulk dispensers for use in cafeterias in schools, hospitals, cafes, and offices. Uproot dispensers assist food services in streamlining operations and reducing packaging waste
Grounded Foods: First to market with a unique product and process, creating cheese-free cheeses using two of nature’s superfoods: fermented cauliflower and hemp seed. Products contain no dairy and are free from nuts, soy, gluten, and GMOs.
Pleese: Helps people transition from traditional dairy with plant-based cheese for use on pizza, burgers, and sandwiches.
Revolution Gelato — Delicious plant-based gelato using simple, clean ingredients that tastes better than dairy.
PlantKind Foods — Manufactures high-quality plant-based staples, starting with condiments and dressings, to help meet the rapidly increasing demand in the industry.
Black Sheep Foods — Using food science to recreate the flavor of fresh lamb and dry-aged lamb in multiple forms such as burgers, kebabs, and shawarma.
PATCH Organics — Offers Pumpkin SeedMilk, a milk alternative for people embracing food decisions based on taste, ingredients, environmental impact, and social awareness. Patch is closing the gap in non-allergen friendly dairy alternatives that satisfy the palette.
GOURMEY: France’s first cultured meat company, reinventing the iconic delicacy: foie gras. The company is building a technology platform around duck stem cells that will give life to meat products sold under its consumer brand, first distributed in premium channels like high-end restaurants
Karana: Reinventing iconic Asian products to create healthy, plant based, and sustainable foods. Their unique supply chain and production process for the native ingredient jackfruit sets them apart.
Confetti: Craft artisan snacks made from nutrient-dense “ugly” vegetables in heritage Singaporean flavors.
Phuture Foods: Developing 100% sustainable plant-based meat that looks like, smells like, tastes like, and feels like real pork. The Asian market is responsible for 50% of pork consumption worldwide and Phuture provides a sustainable alternative to the market at a price that is lower than real pork.
LVL Life — A functional beverage company that harnesses the power of highly nutritious plant-based ingredients.
Are you ready to see your organizations name on that list? Submit your idea to Capsule Hack and then onwards to their BIV accelerator! A Big thanks to Kitty Lang and the BIV team for giving us the inside scoop and all the trailblazing work they are doing.