Smart money VCs focus their food & beverage investments on tech innovations, backing plant-based meat products, food R&D startups, and more.
While top-tier VCs have traditionally focused on tech startups, rather than consumer goods, several “smart money” firms are beginning to steer funding directly toward food & beverage startups — albeit in several very specific areas. Nearly all the food & beverage startups that have attracted smart money are focused on transformational technologies such as plant-based protein and animal-free eggs — startups that may not only be selling products, but are designing new processes that could change what we eat.
We used our CB Insights Business Social Graph tool to look at which food & beverage companies have been backed by smart money VCs. Our analysis includes startups producing branded, packaged food products or food development technologies. We did not include food delivery startups or meal kit startups such as Blue Apron.
Out of our list of 24 smart money VCs, nine have invested in food and beverage startups since 2013, backing 14 startups between them. Khosla Ventures was most active, funding eight food and beverage companies since 2013. Interestingly, Google Ventures (though a corporate venture arm, not a smart money VC and not included in the graphic) is actually the second most active investor in this cohort of smart money-backed startups, backing five of them since 2013.
For more on how we selected our 24 “smart money VCs,” please see the explanation and full smart money list at the bottom of this post.
Smart money VCs’ food & beverage investments nearly all focus on replacing common food items. These innovations may be more scalable than simple “flavor innovations,” or startups working on a new snack product or beverage flavor. Within that broad mission, the startups fall into several categories:
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Note: To analyze smart money trends, we looked at the activity of 24 top VC firms, selected according to portfolio valuations and investment outcomes. Some of the investors are linked to relevant research briefs. Here’s our full list of 24 smart money investors:
- Sequoia Capital
- Benchmark Capital
- Accel Partners
- Greylock Partners
- Andreessen Horowitz
- Union Square Ventures
- First Round Capital
- Bessemer Venture Partners
- Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
- New Enterprise Associates
- Founders Fund
- Lightspeed Venture Partners
- Foundry Group
- Index Ventures
- Khosla Ventures
- Social Capital
- Emergence Capital Partners
- True Ventures
- Floodgate Fund
- General Catalyst Partners
- Spark Capital
- Battery Ventures
- Redpoint Ventures
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This report was created with data from CB Insights’ emerging technology insights platform, which offers clarity into emerging tech and new business strategies through tools like:
- Earnings Transcripts Search Engine & Analytics to get an information edge on competitors’ and incumbents’ strategies
- Patent Analytics to see where innovation is happening next
- Company Mosaic Scores to evaluate startup health, based on our National Science Foundation-backed algorithm
- Business Relationships to quickly see a company’s competitors, partners, and more
- Market Sizing Tools to visualize market growth and spot the next big opportunity