March 9, 2020
Guest Lisa Feria, Stray Dog Capital
Hosted by Jamie Harris, Sentience Institute
Lisa Feria of Stray Dog Capital on impact investing and animal-free food tech entrepreneurship
I think we forget sometimes because we look at Impossible, we look at Beyond, that they’re the tip of the spear, but there’s so much work and so much opportunity out there… We need to get to all the categories… Seafood in general is very, very underserved. And so getting access to amazing talented entrepreneurs who are going to focus on seafood… there’s a huge opportunity there, because that is such a level of high need. And there’s other categories like that, but I think… cheap, plant-based replacements specifically is an area of opportunity, and seafood is as well. There’s focus on burgers and hot dogs and products like that, especially in beef, and not enough focus yet on many of the other species that we need to get to.
Investing in animal-free food technology startups offers opportunities to disrupt animal agriculture while making a profit. But is high counterfactual impact not irreconcilable with good returns on investment? And what kinds of entrepreneurs and companies seem most promising?
Lisa Feria is the CEO of Stray Dog Capital, a group that invests in high-tech plant-based food and cellular agriculture startups. She also helped to found GlassWall Syndicate, a group of investors who collaborate to support animal-free food technology startups.
Topics discussed in the episode:
- How Stray Dog Capital evaluates which companies are likely to deliver good returns on investment and the skills that entrepreneurs need to succeed (2:25)
- How companies can make high-quality projections and estimates about their chances of success and expected market share (19:45)
- How Stray Dog Capital evaluates the impact of companies and how this affects their investments (24:35)
- Why Beyond Meat was such a success story for its investors and why IPOs (initial public offerings) are the “gold standard” for maximising return on investment (30:55)
- Why Stray Dog Capital focuses on early stage investments, how crowded the space of impact investing in animal-free food tech is, and the counterfactual impact of investments (33:35)
- The trade-off between counterfactual impact and return on investment (55:05)
- Why Lisa is optimistic about continued growth and opportunities for animal-free food technology (1:02:22)
- How Stray Dog Capital collaborates with other investors through GlassWall Syndicate (1:05:48)
- The markets and geographies that Stray Dog Capital is most interested in, and the importance of pre-existing demand for animal-free foods (1:07:54)
- Broad vs. animal focus in terms of the impact and strategy of startups (1:12:10)
- The expected impact (and challenges) of cellular agriculture / cultured meat companies compared to plant-based companies (1:16:27)
- Projected timelines for when cellular agriculture products will become cost-competitive with conventional animal products, and how investors deal with this uncertainty (1:24:15)
- Why more animal-free food tech entrepreneurs should focus on neglected product categories like seafood and chicken replacements (1:28:45)
- Career preparation for working at impact investment groups and as entrepreneurs at animal-free food tech startups (1:36:58)
Resources discussed in the episode:
Resources by or about Lisa Feria’s work:
Resources for using this podcast for a discussion group:
Transcript (Automated, imperfect)
Welcome to the sentience Institute podcast, where we interview activists, entrepreneurs, and researchers about the most effective strategies to expand humanity's moral circle with a focus on expanding the circle to fond animals. I'm Jamie Harris, researcher sentience Institute and the animal advocacy careers. Welcome to our sixth episode of the podcast. I was excited to have Lisa Feria on the podcast because Stray Dog Capital, the organization where she is CEO is heavily involved in funding new animal free food technology startups Stray Dog Capital has invested in high tech plant based food startups including beyond meat where share prices tripled on the first day of its initial public offering in May, 2019 Stray Dog Capital also invests in cultured meat, also known as clean meat or cultivated meat and the wider category of cellular agriculture products. These are food products that are grown from animal cells without requiring the sort of animals. These technologies are promising methods for displacing conventional animal products and facilitating an expansion of humanity's moral circle to encompass animals and other sentient beings.
In this episode, when I'm talking about impact investment, I'm mostly talking about specific form of impact investing. Active investment in enterprises that generate social or environmental goods, services or other benefits. This is different from socially responsible investing, operates through negative screening or divestment. That is where people stop investing in companies that they believe do harm to the world by screening out industry types such as those producing and selling weaponry or by only investing in best in class companies using various rating systems by not talking about that here. I also use the term socially neutral investors to refer to investors who are focused on maximizing return on investment and aren't interested in the social impact of their investments. On our website we have a transcript of this episode as well as timestamps for particular topics. We also have suggested questions and resources that can be used to run an event around this podcast and your local animal advocacy or effective altruism group. Please feel free to get in touch with us if you have questions about this and we'd be happy to help. Our guest today is Lisa Feria, the CEO of Stray Dog Capital and impact investing group seeking to support a transition towards an animal free food system and economy. She also helped found glass wall syndicate, a group of venture capitalists, foundations, trusts, nonprofits and individual investors with similar interests and goals. Welcome to the podcast, Lisa.
Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here.
Great. You're very welcome. So in January, 2013 there was a survey of impact investors and about 65% of respondents indicated that they were seeking market rate returns on their investments, but generally there's a trade off between impacts and return on investment. What does Stray Dog Capital optimize for impact for animals or profit?
Yeah, great question. And a question that I actually get asked quite often and the answer is that we maximize for both because we believe that there is a connection and an overlapping circle between companies that are solving real problems. And those real have really huge impact both on the environment and animals and human health. And so we are focused and our thesis is very laser focused on finding companies that will deliver both incredible financial returns for our investors, but also save the lives of many animals.
So which factors go into judging whether a company is likely to have good returns on investment?
So we look for companies that are making a significant change versus the incumbents. And what that means is that for example, even though we are food and food tech investment firm, we don't invest in products that could potentially have short term returns, but that don't really have a large level of impact because we, we believe in two things. The first thing is if we're going to invest in companies that are fads or really small companies or a, you know, very interesting in the current time but don't really have a massive marketplace issue that they're solving. We don't think that that's longterm sustainable from a return on investment standpoint. And the second piece is some of the companies that we invest in. As a matter of fact, all of the companies that we invest in are out there because they're solving these, this huge issue we have with climate change and the humane treatment of animals, human health, like whether they're solving really massive problems. And when you solve a massive, massive problems, those problems usually have a massive market behind them. So you have a lot of people that you're serving with this, uh, product or service that you're putting together. And so if you have a massive market and a great solution that solves a real consumer problem, there's financial return on investment there. And we believe in hyper-focusing on the companies that are particularly solving the issue of the current way that our food system is put together.
Okay. So is that, is that a kind of broad category in a way of screen out certain types of companies in the sense of, do you only invest in companies that focus on these issues of the environment and, and animal food production, but then within that, do they all fit into that criteria you had there of sort of addressing a longterm issue? Or are there certain companies that even within that category, you might say they're not disrupting the markets sufficiently and they have too short term focus?
Yeah, great question. So here, here's how we look at this. 99% of our companies that we, the companies that we look for and invest in, we'll have a large displacement impact on animal agriculture. I. E. you know, it's a cheese replacement as a milk replacement is a seafood replacement, et cetera, et cetera. We do have a few companies that we've invested in that while they do like they are, their purpose is always going to be displacement of the animal agriculture product. They do it in a in a smaller way, but because the team is such an incredible, we believe that they're going to still move forward and advance alternatives. Great, fantastic alternatives and categories. I don't have as much of an impact, but those are the, the the minimum within our, our target companies because we really want to punch above our weight. We really want our companies to make a huge difference.
So on this, on the kind of the return on investment side rather than the impact side, we'll focus on the impact side a bit more in a second. But is there, is there a kind of formalized quantified process for evaluating companies or is it a subjective assessment from multiple different people at the organization?
Our focus and we invest in early stage companies, what that means is that it's either pre-revenue and it's just an idea in somebody's head or a group of people. Um, or aid has a little bit of revenue but it's only been a couple of farmer's markets or it's coming out of a lab somewhere. Uh, but in any of those cases, the level of information that you have is very minimal. And so in many situations, I kind of laugh when I look at the, uh, financial projections that some of these companies, because you really have no idea. I mean it would be their financial projections would be no less or more accurate than if I asked you right now to write in a, in a napkin, what do you think a random company's financial projections are going to be that are, are addressing this specific problem?
When you're that early in a, in a, in a company's life lifespan, uh, there is a lot of unknowns. You don't have the whole team, you don't have, you know, a lot of data, you don't have turns. How are they turning in the, in the retail store. And so when you have to do is really take a huge step back and develop and leverage a very subjective measure along with whatever objective measure you have out there. So what does that mean? Number one and you're going to hear every investor say the same thing. The team is foremost. The most important thing in all of this. I will tell you that you know, some of the companies that I was referring to before that are disrupting smaller categories. The reason I've invested in them because is because they have a rock star team. And what that means is this is a team that will know, say, will not take no for an answer that will continuously reinvent themselves and pivot.
That is the team and the founders are able to attract others to get on the same boat and row with them. You know, they're able to paint such a incredible vision of the future that as an investor, all you want to do is help them move forward. You want to get an oar and you want to start paddling for them. But all of that also comes with the fact that, you know, we see thousands of companies. So there's a level of internal expertise that comes with having seen so many of these companies and having an already been through the entire pipeline all the way through IPO with some of our companies. And so we have expertise and experience that comes with having seen so many companies go through it that we're able to say, okay, so let's look at what you have. Do you have a, a sustainable competitive advantage, something that's going to take you above and beyond this one product you have? Do you have the right expertise in house? Do you have the right team? And so you look at some of the objective measures and compare it to what you've seen in the marketplace and the market size and things like that. But at the end of the day when you have an early stage company, there's a lot of subjectivity that goes into it.
Okay. So with this idea of the team being crucial beyond just the market size and the product category and that sort of thing, the two things you mentioned that I picked up on were the, the kind of idea of them being able to sell or paint a, an incredible vision and also this idea of relevant expertise. Um, the one, the one about vision is that, is that essentially just like charisma is an individual. I do wonder whether, and this is obviously something that you hear as you mentioned, other investors say this, you hear this when, uh, in, in context about for-profit startup investment generally, I just wondered how well correlated do you think that that sort of charisma and ability to sell the vision of the company is to actually being a great manager and leader or actually running a great company? I mean, I can definitely imagine that it would help to secure other investments. Uh, and maybe it's a, a key factor in just being a great leader generally is some research I've been looking at on leadership recently for Animal Advocacy Careers would suggest that that would be relevant. But is it an yeah. How key is it a part of being a great entrepreneur?
Yeah, this is a fantastic question and here's what I'll tell you. You don't get along or you don't get across the entire pond just by being charismatic, but you need to be charismatic in order to be able to attract the things that you need to be successful. And what are those things? Money, people, product. Because you're, here's the reality of it is if you're an incredibly talented person, but the extent of your vision for the company only goes as far as one foot in front of another. And I just have to put the fire off today and I don't know where I'm going. I don't know where we're going. You know, I don't, as opposed to having somebody who really can say, okay, yes I know you're only, you know, raising $1 million today, but what would you do if I give you $20 million on a person that can answer that question.
Truly has put the thought into it and said, I'm not yesterday. I'm a $20 company, you know, in sales, but I am on my way to be a $6 billion company and here's why this company is going to be the next beyond me. And it's not only about selling the vision and just having an ability to BS people, it really is about getting others excited about where we're going and establishing a clear vision and a pipeline to get there. Because what happens is not only G you excite investors who you need to grow. Number two, you excite other talented, amazing people to help you grow. And I cannot under like I cannot over emphasize how important this is because nobody is great at everything. Nobody. And so you're going to need a superstar sales team. You're going to need a superstar marketing team. You're going to need the best of the best in the R and, D to really help you reach even beyond your own capabilities as a founder or founders.
And how do you do that is because people believe that they are on a winning team and their own winning path and they understand where they're going and they understand what they need to do to get the company there. And so having that ability and that confidence that attracts money and attracts other people. Um, at the end of the day you do, and this is where the experience comes in. I do, my preferred place to go is people that are either serial entrepreneurs and have already either travel this path or you know, attempted it or have in their life always acted this way. You know, this is the famous people that sold the newspapers that had a paper route or you know, they were in the hitting the lemonade stands or they had the in or like just people that through their life just naturally show this instinct to be fearless and get out there and hustle basically.
And, but you have to have the foundation of something. It can't be just air that you're selling me. Right. But it really is important because what I've seen, and let me, let me give you an example of this. I had a company, um, I have a company that when I met them at expo West many years ago, um, we were doing a, an investor pitch event thing. And so I was on a table and different entrepreneurs would come and pitch and this entrepreneur, this woman, um, pitch me, and it was a category that I am interested in, but it wasn't my number, you know, one to five categories that I was looking for. Four fantastic options then. But when I sat down with her and she talked to me and this, she didn't even have one investor yet. I think she had a friends and family round and that was it.
But no, no, no large institutionals. And she explained her vision and not only, Hey, I'm here because there's a problem with milk, dadada, but really went above and beyond that and really explained to me and showed me her entire vision of what this company was going to evolve into and how was that going to fit into the market and why did they specifically deserve to have more than their fair share of their market? What are their competitive advantage? Um, you know, gave them an unfair advantage. Like she was able to kind of put all the plugin, all these pieces together. And when I walked away from that conversation, I have many conversations that day I was so incredibly impressed because she would be a CEO with her level of preparedness, her level of confidence, her level of vision, her level of just, you know, dotting all the I's and crossing all the T's is something that I see in much, much later entrepreneurs. Somebody who's been around the block and is already on their series D, you know, and their third company, never somebody who was at the seed stage and has never put a company together. And we ended up joining the company on the board and every single board meeting that I had, the level of preparedness of the board materials of her own team, the people that she was able to attract like it was, it was as if she was a $200 million company as opposed to a $5 million company. And that's, that's the boat you want to be on because it becomes, they already think so big and they're already able to attract such interesting, talented people that then it becomes this massive momentum driven, uh, in, uh, in eventuality, if that makes sense.
Yeah, those things do make sense. Um, one thing that one impression I was getting from some of the things you were saying there was that actually what's important there is the ability to sort of meticulously plan through these possibilities and be prepared for and understand where you're heading and that that is maybe as important, if not more important than the ability to sell it. Or do you think that, uh, can you sort of separate those two things as two key characteristics that are both needed or is, is does this sort of charisma side, is it, is it sort of just a cover up for where people haven't actually done that planning and they're able to sell it anyway? Is it the, the planning that's the important bit behind the charisma?
Yes, absolutely. I mean, you have to have the goods for sure, but here's, here's the thing and what does that mean is that she had the vision, but when I was sort of poking around, well, what is your assumption here? And how do you know this? And dah, dah, dah. You know, she had done her homework. It was definitely not only a error and nothing else behind it. It was backed up by some thoughtful planning and thinking. And most importantly, she had identified such a strong group of advisors and people that she eventually hired. She was well versed in many different areas because she was, I would say, um, I don't want to say the word paranoid necessarily, but definitely very thirsty, very thirsty to know all the different elements that might affect her business and how she was gonna, you know, learn from what had been done out there, but then go do it better.
But I would say the opposite side of that. So I know I had a, another company we ended up passing, but a entrepreneur who had a very unique idea, something I had not seen before. I'm one of those where, you know, if we had ended up investing, it would have been a moonshot. What we call him, you know, I get this works is gonna change the landscape completely. Uh, but there's just as high a possibility that it won't work. And this entrepreneur, he was able to sell an incredible vision of like, Hey, if this does work here, exactly where we would fit in, here's what we would bring to market. We will be the next general mills. Here's why I think that's, you know, that's going to happen. And here's what I need and blah, blah, blah. And you know, we were very impressed by the vision and intrigued by the, by what they were putting together.
But the more questions that we asked, the more though we realized that there was nothing behind the smoke, you know, it was all a hopes and dreams. And you know, so for example, when we look at the financial projections, and again, at this point, you know, you don't know anything because you're early stage. So it's just a lot of kind of made up numbers. But at least you need to make sure that you have the person who knows how to put that together slash make those numbers work. What does that mean is I could come up and say, Hey, my company is going to produce $10 million worth of products, but if I'm (me, right, if Lisa is) evaluating this company, I'm going to, the first thing I'm going to ask is how did you come up with a number? Well, it's because the, the actual marketplace of total consumption is this amount and I'm going to have 1% of that.
Well, how did you figure all that? You're going to have 1% of that. Well, because you know, in the meat category, that's how much it's grown. Well, but how do you know you're going to achieve that? What have you put in place to get to that 1%? Who's going to sell this? What channels? Who have you talked to? You know, and once you start, you know, dissipating the smoke. If the company hasn't done their homework, it's really evident really quickly. So the opposite is not true. You can be incredibly charismatic. But once I started kind of waving my arms around to get through the smoke and try to understand if you have thought through these things, if there's nothing there we want to invest. And then the third case of that will be companies that have a solid product but don't know what they want to be or who they want to be tomorrow.
I've seen many of those actually aware. They have a really good product, very impressive, better than the incumbent, but they have no idea of, you know, anything, uh, beyond tomorrow. And even at that, they have no idea beyond today and the crisis that they're going through today. And they, they don't know what they would do if you give him $10 million. They haven't really thought about it. They're just trying to, you know, pay the rent today and those make me nervous. And most of the times we don't invest in those unfortunately. But we can't, I can't S an investor come in and try to give you a vision. That's not how it works. Like the company and the founders need to have a vision.
Yeah. With that hypothetical example you gave, of the 1% figure that had nothing but smoke behind it, how would accompany it? As you're saying it is also uncertain of the stage, how would a company actually have something more than smoke behind that 1% figure? You mentioned the idea of having spoken to advisors, but is there, I mean, can people really be very confident in those sorts of projections? Uh, or even can you narrow down the confidence much more beyond just like, here's what we're aiming for?
Yeah. I mean, you narrow it down. If you, if you have a product, let's say it's food or food technology, there's a very clear, clear, clear path forward in terms of what you have to do. So you have to get a broker, you have to get a distribution within, especially if you're in the natural channel, you want to fire K, he then you gotta you know, there's, so there's a very, very, very clear path and there's averages on how long, how litter or how long it normally takes for a company similar to yours. And all they would take is somebody who's been there, done that a million times. Both. It could be an advisor or it could be somebody that you as a consultant to help guide you through the thinking of how long things are going to take. Because what ends up happening is then a, you get yourself a much better informed as to how long is this gonna actually take?
And I'll, I'll give you an example of this in a second. Um, and B, you start understanding what skillsets are needed to get there and what type of person do you need to go find to deliver these numbers and see you understand how many, how much money you need. Because if you underestimate, and I have seen this multiple times, if you grossly underestimate how or if you underestimate how long this is going to take you. So if you're, Oh, I'm going to get distribution in KCI in a month and then I'm going to be in whole foods arms and two months and they're going to love me and by month three I'm going to be delivering $1 million in revenue per month. You're going to be in a world of hurt because most companies are losing money. And so you need to have some level of better planning that says, actually it's going to take me nine months, ergo I need to plan for this and here's what I need to race and dah, dah, dah.
And as an investor I want to know that you are already that person who is so driven to find out facts, information, data. So you can have an make an informed decision. That's the leader I want. I don't want the one that is like, you know, yes can put together a great pipe dream, but in no way, shape or form can actually turn that into an executable plan. You have to, you have to have a balancer in the way you do that is by reaching out to other people. And also, I have two examples here. Um, the other day I was talking to speaking to an entrepreneur. Um, and they were, this was the first time they're in food. They had done other startups but in technology and we were looking at the, the financial projections. Um, and because they have no idea whatsoever how food works, they think is exactly the same of tech, not like technology where you can, uh, go to scale very quickly and relatively inexpensively.
Food is an actual physical product that needs to go from a distribution warehouse to another distribution warehouse do eventually the shelf. You know, there's a lot of steps in there. Um, it takes longer than you think. And so they were presenting these financial projections that had 'em going from, uh, you know, basically is your own sales, cause they're pre-revenue, two, $3 million by the end of this year, by the way, they haven't spoken to one customer, so it's already February $3 million. Um, and then next year that we're going to 10 million, then I want to say like a hundred. And then by year five there were a $256 million. Those were their bird rejections. So as I'm looking at this, I'm like, huh, interesting. Not that I don't think they have a great product, it's just that that's not how food works. Food takes a lot longer to get things together. And when I see that it, it sort of very, it makes it very clear to me that they haven't done their homework.
Um, so that's, that's, you know, very frustrating. Now, on the other side of that spectrum, I met with an entrepreneur and we were discussing, um, his company and, uh, he put me to work. So I'm not even an an investor in his company yet. We're just talking. And so he said, Hey, I know that you a graduate or you went to Proctor and gamble. I know Proctor and gamble is really good at marketing. I really am looking for a person with this profile. Can I, um, do you have anybody that you can reach into? Could you post this into your P and G network in LinkedIn and can you, so it would, it was so it's astounding to me and I appreciated that actually to be so scrappy that no conversation gets by without you requesting some level of help or expertise. Um, I thought it was incredibly smart and, and it just, you know, I love people like that that are so scrappy and, and again, hungry, thirsty, right, that nothing will get in their way, uh, of them growing the company.
Yeah, lots of stuff there. Hopefully some useful advice for budding entrepreneurs. I want to talk a bit about the impact perspective. You mentioned that that's a really important criteria for you and I want to think about how you actually evaluate the impact of companies or at least conceptualize it. So one way to do this would be to think about broad heuristics of company types that you think are likely to have high impact. So you might decide, for example, that you don't invest in companies that focused on making products that replaced products made from the meat or eggs of chicken. Since the consumption of these animal products seems likely to cause substantially more suffering than the consumption of products made from meat or milk of cows or other large mammals. Another way would be to evaluate the companies on a case by case basis assigning, you know, you could assign various objective values to key criteria. Metrics in other way would just be to to gather information from the companies and to attempt some sort of model of their projected impacts. But from what we've been saying so far, I guess those, that last one is far too speculative for you. But yeah. How do you think about the impact of particular companies as opposed to say the broad category or do you really just stick with that, that broad sense that animal agriculture is the thing you're addressing here?
Yeah. So this is a little bit like a pyramid for us. Animal agriculture is, you don't, unless you're replacing animal agriculture, you don't even get through the door with us in some way, shape, or form. Right? The second layer of that is that not only does it have to replace animal agriculture, it has to do it in a meaningful way. So an example of a company that we have, many companies have this surprisingly that come to us all the time. They say, well, you know, we're a kombucha company. We're growing like gangbusters, which is true, crazy returns, crazy margins, you know, you're going to make incredible money when we get acquired by Unilever or whatnot. I mean, technically they are plant based. Uh, they have data that says that people are choosing instead of a way drink, they're choosing this kombucha drink. So they're technically replacing some level of animal agriculture.
But that the level of impact on the level of, um, replacement is not large enough for us. We really want to go after the most egregious, uh, you know, uh, products and services out there that really do, would make an impact. Assuming they're incredibly successful, make a significant impact in against animal agriculture. And so seafood, dairy, eggs, meat, cheese, all those are the categories that we, that we focus on. Our objective a straight August is that we really focus on plan base and cultivated meat because we believe that both of them have a role to play. Um, and so as long as it's within the category, you know, plant based cultivated makes a huge impact in terms of Unimog or culture and it is, you know, plant base or cultivated the one thing, the last thing I will say is, you know, particularly with the cultivated, we've seen some of these channels have been completely overlooked and don't have that many competitors in there unfortunately.
Although we hope that will change in the next couple of years. And then we see some, and cultivators is a great example of this that you know, the last, my last count was 66 zero companies out there are working on cultivated and we evaluated them because they are meeting our thresholds, right? So we evaluate them constantly. And what we're finding now is that the level of difference between one and the next is very small and the whole category is so tight that if you want to start a cultivated food company, you don't exactly know what the other ones are doing or how far their head outside of, you know, massive funding rounds. And so it was really hard for a company to decide. I know if they have something that's a repeat of something somebody else, but that's exactly what we're seeing. And so now when it comes to cultivator, we're being particularly picky and making sure that we only invest in companies that are bringing something very differentiated.
Okay. Yeah, that makes sense. And we'll talk a bit more about the cultivated versus plant-based, sort of trade off in a bit. Um, but in terms of the products that these companies that you've invested in are hoping to replace, you do have quite a diverse portfolio. So you've got, for example, mostly meat and beyond meat, focus on beef products, super for meat, focuses on chicken products, blue Nolio and good catch folks on seafood. But the impact of these different products, product types could vary substantially. So are you not tempted from an impact perspective to skew the investment slightly more towards products that replace chicken and seafood as these seem to be kind of higher priority from a a I guess from an effective altruist perspective in the sense that they're larger numbers for the same sort of calorie intake or that sort of thing and, and larger total numbers. Uh, in terms of farming in the U S and elsewhere.
Our focus and our hypothesis is always that all advances in all these categories in all these markets are needed desperately because the markets are so large that there is no amount, in our opinion, there is no amount of competition that is too much when it comes to plant-based. And we can come back around to that and explain it further. There's not enough competition in these markets because the categories are so gigantic. Right. And so we believe that we need to have a players and competitors and fantastic entrepreneurs in all of these in order for statistically some of these, to make it all the way through. I mean venture capital and entrepreneurship, very risky. And so we expect, and this is market, we expect 30 to 40% of our companies to just either fail outright, go out of business or become zombies where they can't get, um, they can't get funding, they can't get distribution.
They're sort of, you know, moving along but not, they're not going to be beyond me kind of thing. And so when you look at that perspective where you're looking at a very risky, um, market, right, you have to maximize and hedge your bets as widely as possible because you don't know which of these markets will have a breakthrough or just the right entrepreneurs with the right company that then will push the entire market forward and with, without knowing who or what category that's going to be, we feel very strongly we have to have contenders and each one of those.
Sure. It's interesting that both, then and earlier in our discussion you've mentioned beyond me as the kind of go to example of the breakaway success company in the first nine months of 2018 Beyond Meat generated $56 million in revenues, which is more than double the revenues of the previous year. But the net loss for the company in those two periods was 22 million and 23 million. So beyond meat looks like one of the greatest success stories in terms of animal free food technology in development and size and that sort of thing. But presumably it's not yet a great success story for its investors.
Well actually it's a fantastic story for its investors because the way, the way the venture capital works is that, you know, we, we exchange capital, right? Money for a little piece of the company, a little equity in the company. And the way that we get our money back is either when the company goes and gets acquired by a larger company, right? And so that company buys all the company stock and the in you get your share of that or the company goes public and there's a third option where it's for the company buys vouchers. But that's definitely very uncommon. So when the company goes public there, there are two things that happen immediately when the company does that. Oh, and I forgot to mention there's also secondary sales and we're always being circled by private equity banks that want to buy a share of this and a share of that are and whatnot.
So you can do that as well. But the prices on those are not very attractive in general. And so IPO is sort of the golden standard in terms of getting maximum return for investment for an investor and with beyond meat specifically. And we all know the story of how it came out incredibly high and, and went up and down and went up and down and one out, but stayed really high. I mean, I was just looking at it today, it's $120, it's so, it's still very high, but investors like ourselves and, and, and all of them. Um, and employees, we're in a lockup period because what happens with companies that don't have a lockup period is that investors will just dump their shares as quickly as possible to the public market and then it makes a share the market price goes zone. And so they tried to sort of get the shares to stabilize before they give the investors an opportunity to fashion their shares. And so that lockup expired in October, you know, a lot of investors got out, some didn't because they still want to want to stay in there for the longer term. But I know for a fact that the, you know, the price was a attractive enough, um, that all those investors and employees were in a good place financially. So it's, um, the, from an investor standpoint, 100% of success.
Okay. Yeah. Showing my ignorance of the investment process there, I guess with that question, but good to know. Okay. So another thing you've mentioned a couple of times is this idea of Stray Dog Capital focusing on early stage businesses. Just what's your quick summary of why you focus on that group?
Yeah. For a couple of reasons. I mean I think the one, some of the, the best value that we bring to the, to the different nice and categories is that a, we're patient investors. So kind of going back to this example of uh, investors being able to get a return with Beyond Meat. The typical investment or venture firm is um, you know, has a certain amount of years associated with it and investors have to deliver value or you know, return on investment within that time or they're going to be in trouble. Um, you know, the investors there and own investors are going to be really mad and the expectation is that you have a three to five year turnaround and you need to be out of that company or you're considering it a loss. Well, when you have a company in a group like ours, we have a very, a much longer more patient outline and expectation of return on investment.
And this is why we're able to invest in things like cultivated meat and some other stealth technologies are out there that we think are going to be game changing technologies. But guess what, will require a lot of money and patience to make it happen. And so we identify those opportunities, um, are at the most danger of dying, right? Entrepreneurs not getting money, et cetera at the earlier stages. And that's what we found consistently is that if, if we are not, um, it's not only Stray Dog Capital, there's a couple of others as well, but if mission-based investors are not, they're in the early stages to get the companies through those early weeds where they don't have anything. It's just a dream and you know, uh, people, uh, putting some time into their garage, uh, then they, those companies never make it into the arms of the institutional investors are going to give them $20 million or more.
And so we continuously find that our value and our time and investment in these early stages, it's where it's most needed valued. Um, and especially because you're having entrepreneurs who've never done venture, I never been venture-backed. And you know, venture capitalists get a bad reputation for a reason. You know, there's a lot of pressure to get a return on investment and that has driven over time a lot of unsavory actions and that comes at the expense of the entrepreneur. And so we find that we're able to, to support these early stage entrepreneurs through those earliest rounds. And then, you know, once they're there sort of graduated from the early stages and moving into growth their season, do they already have, you know, successes on their, their belts, they can, they can go on and ideally, you know, bring amazing products into the market.
Okay. So, um, one, one webpage I saw distinguished between seed and angel investors and then venture capital is to slot in different stages. Uh, the former being founding startup, pre-revenue, and then venture capital being sort of pre-profitability, but some revenue coming in. Do you engage in both those categories or just one?
Yeah. Okay. So the, the stages, the typical way it works is, you know, you start a company, um, out of your dorm room or whatnot, then you're, they do what they call it, a friends and family around. If they're privileged enough to have friends. And family that can provide them with 10 to $50,000 or so. Um, and that comes, so the friends and family and angel rounds come pretty close together. And that is where, you know, you don't need, um, hundreds of thousands of dollars. You really just need 10 to 50 to be able to get your product produced, you know, at a reasonable volume to start having some the, we put some numbers up in the scoreboard if you will. And so the angels, uh, usually have a much smaller check size and come on a, uh, very close to this friends and family stage, what Stray Dog Capital; like our, you know, our check size is, uh, significantly higher than that.
And so we're able to fulfill the first pre-seed or seed round and be able to facilitate the hiring of a lot of people, facilitate the, um, arrangement of go packer or you know, initial equipment, et cetera. We were really able to then put whatever plans they have on the... And be able to hit the accelerator to expand quickly. And, um, and at that point it really is a situation where they have something but just not enough for it to be re de-risked enough for other investors. Um, and so the angels, they're there, they have a smaller check size that come a little bit earlier. Uh, but they're, they're very valuable in the, in the, in the funding stage. And then after that we're early stage and then you have, um, growth stage or late stage investors. There's usually come from series a plus all the way to exit. Um, they come in with really large check sizes and, and you know, they want a company who's already de-risked and they can really dig into that data and it feels nice and safe, if you will.
So what proportion of the funding needs of an organization do you tend to meet in a particular funding round?
So it depends on the company. And here's what I say, what I'll say about that. What I liked the most about the way that we operate is that venture capital in general tends to be a very sharp elbowed place where you don't like, you know investors don't like to collaborate or they do in very tiny groups and it is a place where it doesn't lend itself to a lot of collaboration because it's usually a zero sum game. Either you got into the deal or you didn't. The fabulous thing about where we are investing right now is that it is such a gigantic opportunity that is still not, it doesn't have enough attention and from an investor standpoint in terms of overall amount of investment and so what that tends to, what tends to happen is that we're able to, and let me take a step back.
When we originally started investing, we did it with our friends, if you will, other funds, you know, individuals, foundations, trusts, we we invested and share deal flow and our own investment memos with each other and we continue to do that. Now with the, with the glass wall syndicate, which was has over 150 members or 160, I think is the last number I heard. And so what we do is it's not only Stray Dog Capital and this is not how I measure it is I don't want to be the only money in and I don't want to, um, you know, we don't want to share bubble anybody. We really want to bring more money into this market. That's what makes us successful. If we can have very well funded entrepreneurs who go on to be able to then hire not only their entire sales team but also in our fantastic R and D or they're able to get three top, top, you know, VPs into their organization because they have access to a few more million.
That's what success looks like. In addition to the fact that the more friendlies you have around the table, the more the entrepreneurs are protected. Number two, and number three, the more resources that you can bring to the entrepreneur. It's not only my contact, um, you know, a Rolodex if you will, that, that they can reach out to. But it's, you know, all of our friendlies Rolodex and we're all equally vested in seeing this market succeed no matter what. And so that's the way we approach this. So if we find a fantastic company, we are usually emailing our other investors, mission-based investors usually in saying, Hey, have you looked at X or Y? They looked amazing and here's what I like. Um, and you should come in.
Okay. Yeah. Really interesting. This idea, your, your creating this impression that these organizations that they're still kind of a lack of investors relative to companies is, would you say that's correct? Yup. Okay. Um, so open philanthropy project have this great research note on impact investing. And I'm just going to quote while they wrote my sense from investors is that the riskiest stage of alternative proteins, investing seed and series a is actually the most crowded. And it's not obvious that ever riskier startups should get funded. This could just mean more failures later. So, yeah, I'm wondering if you also have the sense that that, that early stage that you tend to operate in is also the most crowded stage of investing for these animal free food technology companies.
What I'm seeing is more the growth stages getting incredibly interesting to funds. And what that means is that you have larger funds who like really large funds. I'm talking billion dollar worth of assets under management that then we'll say, Hey, why don't we throw, I don't know, 50 to a hundred million dollar small teeny fund that then supports this market, but it doesn't make sense for them to invest unless they have either a lead eye, a board seed and they're putting in more than 30% of the, of the race or there are significant part of the, of the investment. And so then that has turned into a lot of money coming into the growth stage. Um, and also because their appetite for risk is less. Um, in general, you know, food and historically has not been a active venture capital space. Um, and I would argue that this, this is a perfect time to invest in food.
But up until you know, five years ago or so, food was very unattractive. It had high return on investment compared to other places you can invest in like healthcare or tech. Um, and that has changed over time but not enough to make these larger firms feel bullish about putting a bunch of money in food. But they are, you know, many of them are, are dipping their toes in, in the growth stages in their earlier stages. I would say the food and food technology, I, I see more investors but not enough where I see a lot of investors in a lot of maybe you know concerning money going out is in the cultivated meat space where I am seeing more companies get funded that probably shouldn't get funded at. But I have not seen that trend on the plant based food, food technology side.
Okay. Interesting. Do you think that the space, so even focusing on plant based as opposed to promise uncalled cultivated, then do you think that the space is still getting more crowded and therefore does that not imply that is also becoming increasingly difficult to have a kind of counterfactual impact through impact investing? So that same open frontier project research note a summarize that at least 55 funds and are investing in alternatives to animal products. And there's some really impressive names on there. You mentioned big companies dipping their toes. I, there's a companies like Cargill, Tyson, Fontera, Danone, are investing into, and even Singapore's a government backed wealth fund and plus, you know, there's lots of big names that people are familiar with like Richard Branson investing in it. Yeah. Is it becoming harder to have an impact through impact investing just because more people are doing it?
Yeah. So two notes on that. I think the first thing is that I love strategics coming in. I think it's fabulous that they are interested in dipping their toe in, in companies because what happens is that many of these company, not every company is going to IPO and go public, uh, those are going to be the minority. The majority of these companies are going to get acquired by somebody else. And the way that the Cargills and the general mills of the world have, um, done that is by first making an investment and staying with the company and then eventually folding them into their larger organizations and supply chain to really maximize the potential. And that's a very desired outcome. I mean, I think that's fantastic. So the more strategics that we have in place, and the more that these companies can use their networks and their contacts and really leverage them, the better and the faster these organizations can make it, you know, to really to scale, which is what we want.
Um, as it relates to our impact. You know, we, there's a couple of things that, that we have to adjust over time as a venture firm. Originally when we invest in a Memphis meats and Mosa Meats, you know, we were among the first money in, particularly for Memphis. And it was because, you know, they didn't have anything. There were so, so, so young in that time as a company. And you know, we were, we were definitely the de-risking money among a couple of other firms. Uh, the de-risking money that then enabled them to have enough capital to make it to a place where they can raise $161 million now. And so we continuously look for opportunities and markets and sub segments that are still going to impact these large markets that we want to transform, but that are riskier, right? Whether it be the, the is riskier or the approach is riskier or there's an element about it that it makes other investors uncomfortable.
And that's where we play the best because then because they, okay, that's a moonshot. But if it works, it would be transformational to dairy, you know, or it would be, you know, the best, uh, seafood replace her that this earth has ever seen. And we would be the ones to help, uh, get it from, you know, this incredibly risky stage. So a place where other investors feel comfortable and that's part of our role is finding those markets in those places and investing in them. I would say for example, Blue Nalu is a great example of that. We just invested and co-led their latest round and uh, it's the place where it's a very highly promising, I mean, one definitely I believe among the cultivated seafood companies. Um, I think the best, it's an incredibly promising space but still kind of weird quote unquote, uh, enough or different or complex that most firms, um, shy away from it.
And so we do have to come forth and say, we believe in this company, we're putting our money and our brand in it. And hopefully that helps the entrepreneur be able to race and de-risk and get additional capital. And the more that we can do that for more entrepreneurs and more spaces, the more that we consider ourselves successful because it's not only about delivering a return on investment on company a or B, which of course we have to do, but it is about making this market thrive. It is about making it so darn attractive to other investors that we don't need to do this anymore. And that would be an acceptable outcome because we want all from the beginning, all we wanted and the reason GlassWall Syndicate exists is that we want to be open arm, big tented, but we want to bring other investors in.
And so, you know, the more that we can do that, the better. Now, the second piece of this, which nobody likes to talk about, but um, we're in a very, we're in a great state from a economical, from economic standpoint and that's not going to be around forever. You know, there's gonna be inevitably a place where investors are less bullish because the market plays a little tighter. And so who is gonna continue to make sure these cultivated me companies proceed and grow. It is companies like ours and funds like ours that, that really do believe in what we're doing at our visceral level and we'll help these companies, um, manage through any kind of choppy water.
So something I'm trying to, I'm sort of struggling to get my head round is um, we, we've, we've mentioned that there are investors in the for profit world, socially neutral investors who are willing to accept large amounts of risk, right? We go with some of the angel seed investors, venture capitalists, whatever. They're willing to accept huge amounts of risk. This idea that impact investors support these animal free free technology companies to get investment where other investors otherwise wouldn't invest in them. Why is that happening? Is there some sort of systemic bias in the socially neutral investment world that means that people, that there are these kinds of blind spots where animal free food technology companies aren't getting invested in?
Yeah. The main blind spot that venture capital has is against food investments in general, but particularly alternative protein investments. And what that means is if you're a venture investor who has been around for more than five years, call it food as a place that you don't get the next Facebook or Google. You know, if you can think about, I mean, I can't even think about the last time that we had a General Mills come up, right? I mean these are established companies that have been around for awhile. You know, food is not a place where investors usually get a really large, you know, 20 X 50 X a returns on their companies, right? Like a Facebook or Google would be, I mean, even more than that. And so in general, historically investors shy away from food. Not all of them, but the majority great majority of them.
It's not considered sexy. It's considered low, multiple ergo not worth the risk. It's considered, Hey, why would you invest in a, in a category that has all this like physical products that they need to physically move from one place to another. They have to have equipment and blah, blah, blah. As opposed to just, you know, a technology company that has five people. And some row room somewhere. And it's very low cost and easy to scale. So there's a huge bias against food in general. Now alternative protein, what's happened is that it's obviously, um, that this is a new food marketplace and a new situation that does, uh, deliver great returns. However, if you're an investor in particularly, which is, you know, many of them that's generation X or baby boomer, then you think this is a fad. And so why would you, you know, put a bunch of money, time, et cetera, supporting this marketplace that it's going to go the way of sparkling water as an example.
And so that's a lot of what we see is, you know, these companies say, well, yeah, the beyond me, it was great, but first of all, that was only one company. And second of all, you know, if you get acquired by Kellogg's and I'm going to get maybe a five X, I might as well invest the 15 other tech companies and one of them will deliver a 50 X. And that's the general, you know, very, very 20,000 foot view of this. Now over time that has changed very, very small though. And what we do believe that as more companies like as impossible heads to IPO as per, you know, um, some of the other companies I heard that uh, Califia is heading towards, you know, there's a couple of other companies who are, you know, looking at, um, at IPO... Perfect Day... as more companies go through IPO and there's like more data that shows that there is a fantastic return on investment to be had.
That's when I think it would happen is that when um, then the whole market gets more de-risked and it becomes a matter of like throwing money at a bunch of people, uh, which is you know, good ad bot I think, you know, you are going to need to make being an entrepreneur and food so fabulously attractive that you get amazing entrepreneurs. That's what you want. That's 100. Those are the people that are going to make the incredible advances and and um, and that are moving the category forward and they have to know and feel like they are supported by a solid venture capital network.
Okay. Yeah. This is quite interesting because a lot of my views on this were informed at least in part by a many research projects I did a couple of years ago. And during that project I briefly interviewed Bruce Friedrich co founder and executive director of the good food Institute and also co-founder advisor at New Crop Capital, which is another impact investment organization. And at that time he gave the impression that socially neutral investors were already filling a lot of the funding needs of plant based meat companies. Um, and believe this the extent that he no longer saw New Crop Capital as really acting as an impact investment fund, but more as just a vehicle to make profitable investments and that the profits would then be reinvested into effective animal advocacy groups. So yeah, just, I mean I don't know if he would still stick to that view but that was certainly the impression he gave a couple of years ago.
Yeah, I think that New Crop Capital and we, we co-invest with them actually quite often. They're still very active in the, in the, in this alternate protein world. And, and making investments that both have a great implication or impact on animal agriculture, uh, meaning, you know, replacement or, and, or, um, are going to be significant drivers to help those companies, uh, achieve that. So they're still investing in this space really heavily in the early stage more often. And one of the things that I think new crop does beautifully is that they have really focused more on the starting of companies, on, you know, the kind of the cultivation of, of filling up the white spaces. So they have, uh, customize their approach a little bit into that space because you could either wait until entrepreneurs are attracted enough to, I don't know, uh, seafood to, uh, do seafood and then invest in them.
Or you can start a seafood company and then find people and then stuff it kinda thing. And that they're, they've been doing a little bit of that and it's a really interesting approach, but they, they still continue to invest in this space, uh, because you know, the opportunity is huge. And I can in no way say that it's completely full. I mean, if you just, you think about if you look, go to your local supermarket, um, can you find fantastic plant-based replacements in every single category that you would feed your family and friends and, you know, distant cousin, absolutely not. Absolutely not. And we have so much to go and so much opportunity to really fill out the spaces. Um, I think we forget sometimes because we look at impossible. We look at beyond that. Um, they are the tip of the spear, but there's so much work and so much opportunity out there.
Yeah, definitely. I, I wouldn't, I wouldn't want to present the impression that I think plant-based meat is done and finished.
I wish, but no, not yet.
Okay. So on a podcast interview with Our Hen House you discussed your work at GlassWall Syndicate into and we've been discussing it a bit. Um, on that interview you noted that GlassWall Syndicate had about 50 investors who are a mixture of mission-driven and profit driven investors. Uh, and, and earlier in this, this discussion you suggested the number had grown to around 150 now. Do those two sets of values not come into conflicts though? This idea that you can't maximize for both impact and for and for return on investment. There are times when there are trade offs there. That one is going to Trump over the other. So does having this kind of broad coalition of investors not cause difficulties?
Not in the early stage, but I'll give you an example where it, it did become an interesting situation in later stages. So when we invest in a company, we are really intrigued and interested. And why are the founders putting together a company, this company? Like what, what are their motivations? Is it like, Oh Hey, there's money to be made here. Those are not our preferred entrepreneurs. We want the ones that really do feel a personal responsibility and passion and um, push to really change the world, um, and fix the broken food system. And some of those entrepreneurs are, you know, vegan, they're personally living and some of them are into, you know, environmentally conscious. They really, it really does range. But at the end of the day, I want something that's deeply rooted, um, outside of just like the everyday, um, I'm going to, you know, deliver this widget and pack this sandwich up.
Uh, because that's really important, especially as the company grows and they have more pressure. So in the initial stages I might have, you know, Bobby over there in venture capital capital A who doesn't really give a, you know, much care, let's say about the environmental, the animals or anything like that. But the, you know, he believes that there's an opportunity in food and he wants to check it out kind of thing. And he is as interested as Stray Dog Capital in the this company being successful because at the end of the day what they care about is profit and how profit is obtain is in the same path in the sense of you want to sell as many widgets as humanly possible. You want to get this into as many hands and places as possible and you want ideally go all the way to public or get acquired. All the, all the objectives are fully aligned.
So during that early stages we see zero issue. It doesn't matter what you come like, what do you come from. It is during the later stages that it gets a little dicey. So for example, we had a company that, you know, it was, it was about two, I'll, you know, I'll grow us in the sense of our checkbook size. You know, it was about to go into a series B much large raise that we weren't going to participate in, which is a completely normal and healthy and we're always happy when that happens. Cause, I mean the company is growing and we've done our job and making a de-risking it and helping the entrepreneur achieve his or her goal. But what's happening was that we still wanted to put a little bit of money into this next raise. We believed heavily in the, in the company.
And we had a interesting issue conversation with investors and the entrepreneur. The entrepreneur was more like sustainability, focus and et cetera. Um, we had some really interesting in conversations between investors because the company wanted to add an animal based ingredient. And it was, because if you see out there, there's a lot of functional drinks that are coming out of everywhere. Like you add this and it's supposed to be strong air hair. So it's like milk would stronger hair, you know, because it adds this or that vitamin or you know, it's supposed to be for a better brain. And I don't know how much of this you've seen, but this there, so you have a product, let's say a non-dairy beverage. Um, and if you're, if you were managing that product, you're looking at the category around you and you see all these other products are getting a lot of popularity and that could be a really interesting space to go.
But if you're looking for those types of ingredients from a plant-based standpoint, they're not as easy to find from a supply chain. They're out there but they tend to be a little bit more expensive and this is where it gets tricky. Us, Stray Dog Capital, we're like: Hey, you know, I mean how much, how much revenue do you think this is gonna really drive? At the end of the day your product is this or this is just more of a distraction. I mean let's not add an animal based products is kind of counter a completely counter to what we're trying to do in general. And then the other investors are like absolutely at that thing. As a matter of fact, put three times of that ingredient in there, the animal based ingredient, as long as you can put any more money into the company and get to exit faster than better for all of us.
And we've, we have gone into this crossroads multiple times with many companies and sometimes we are able to say, you know, the entrepreneurs like absolutely I, you know, at the end of my core is you know, non-animal non environmental degradation. So why would I sacrifice my, my vision and they continue the path that we're taking. It has happened that it goes the other way and we end up exiting the company and selling our shares to other people where they're like, okay, I'm just going to add some animal based ingredients kind of pushed by these other investors. So at some point the, you know, there you could get to a place where there is some conflict as it relates to where you and other investors think the company is heading. But that's par for the course. You know, we invest in, you know, over 30 companies. We see hundreds of companies, nobody knows what's going to happen at a later time. And you want to think that you know you're always going to be aligned, but sometimes you're not.
Yeah, so a slightly more theoretical level. There's a great report by John Halstead of Founders' Pledge and Hauke Hillebrand of Let's Fund. And they emphasize that there's often a trade off between impact and return on investment. And part of the concern here is that in particular cases or companies is either going to look financially promising, in which case you would expect that socially neutral investors would want to support it or it's going to look less financially promising and going to therefore need more support from say impact investors. In which case you'd expect that on average your return on investment would be lower than it could be by investing in other companies or other industries. So in terms of this sort of mixture of investors in glass wall syndicate, where does that tend? Does that, do you see that being a trade off that people face? Is it a, an active decision that the organization has to make between maximizing for return on investment and maximizing for impact of individual companies.
So within glass wall syndicate, there are lot of, there are a lot of differences in terms of the membership. Some really do want to invest in companies that are in the broader sense plan base, ergo are going to have nice return on investments. I'm going to bring up kombucha as a random example, but something where a might be incredibly attractive to a potential general mills and therefore you potentially could see an ice exit. What for an impact from, uh, we tend to pass on those opportunities because we don't believe that it is going to have as high of a mission impact. So in that sense, if you were to look at opportunities like that and add them up, you might get to a point where you're like, well, you know, you could have had, don't know, 20 more million dollars if you invest in an ARB.
But outside of that, I mean our thesis is that this marketplace is so ripe for innovation is so ripe for re-invention. And the consumer groups that support the marketplace and drive the marketplace already. When I eat differently. And when you have a consumer group who is driving change because that's the way they are, not because we have to educate them or tell them that you know this or that, you know, the millennial generation C's are the largest cohort that earth has larger even than the baby boomers. I was reading earlier this week that now there's more voting age millennials here in the United States than there are baby boomers. So that's going to be really interesting to see what happens in the elections now that baby boomers are officially in every way. Outnumbering gen Xers and baby boomers, because they really as a generation want to know more about their food as a generation need more plant-based in general.
They're four times as likely to be vegetarian or vegan, than baby boomers. So they are a significantly different generation than any other that we've seen before. So we have that massive group that's driving a different food system. And what that happens is that that creates a pool for these companies to fail. Those incredible boys that we've had for, I don't know, so many hundreds of years that we haven't really filled successfully. It's been, it's still been, has it been conserved, very niche. And so now we have this market opportunity that wasn't there before. I would argue that wasn't even there before five years ago because there weren't enough in the marketplace driving enough changes and other generations, we're still the majority of the consumers, et cetera. Um, and so over these couple of years only, it's changed so dramatically and will continue to change that there that we consider our investments not to be a sacrifice in terms of return to get impact.
We consider that this is the perfect moment to drive financial returns and impact. And, and not only are millennials and generation Zs are driving this incredible pool and change, which is awesome. But also what's happening is that, you know, the, the, the likely reason the majority of, of people in the United States will die. It will be because of, of the food they put in their mouth, the majority of them, it's the number one killer. And so what happens is that you have all these baby boomers who are now aging into these old, you know, older group. Oh, they're aging in general. And um, they're having their first or second cardiac, you know, um, attack or cardiac event and they're going to their doctors and what are their doctors telling them? Eat less meat. Right? And so, you know, we, we're seeing this, this whole from both directions that are driving the, the consumer seeking alternative products and buying alternative products.
And so, you know, we have so many opportunities that in my mind, I can't even begin to comprehend all the different with that you can find in a grocery store, in particularly the really big impactful ones. How many products have milk in them or egg or you know, if you're vegan, you know this to be true at the bottom of your soul. You know, it's like a piece of lettuce has way added to it. It's just ridiculous. And so there's nothing but opportunity to impact all these marketplace and what that creates is a venture opportunity and an entrepreneurial opportunity to supply those products.
As, as we mentioned. I don't think I can deny it. There's lots of opportunities still to come. Um, just to clarify, the relationship between Stray Dog Capital and GlassWall Syndicate and the other members of that group, how, how does it work on a real practical level? Is it, do they, do those two groups operate in very similar ways? It's just one is much larger or is GlassWall Syndicate a whole different kind of organization?
It's a whole different kind of organization. So Stray Dog Capital is a typical fund, like a typical venture capital fund with investors. And you know we talked about our thesis. We'll also send again has a similar thesis on us, but they're a nonprofit organization. So there are membership based group and what the, what they do is that they help cure rate deal and do and give deal access to their members. And it'd be so we're members of GlassWall Syndicate; it becomes a very symbiotic relationship because if I have a, a great deal that and our great entrepreneur and whatnot, um, the majority of the members in gospel syndicates are not going to get the access to the deals and the deal flow that we do just because this is what we do our everyday. And so we're able to share those deals with the members.
And then at the same time, these entrepreneurs are able to get a lot more friendlies around the table and they're able to get access to so much more networks and information and expertise, et cetera. So it works very symbiotically. It's my oddly, but at the end of the day, GlassWall Syndicate is a nonprofit designed to serve its members that want to invest and plant-based and cultivated. And what that does mean is that sometimes the investments in cultivated are in textiles. Or sometimes they might look at companies that have a smaller impact as it relates to animal agriculture, but that are interesting to investors nonetheless. Or they might look at, uh, at deals that come from, you know, all over the world versus our investments are limited to certain parts of the world. And so they have a broader filter than we do because there's a broader group of people in there that, that have different wants and in investment desires. And so we work together very well and we play together very well on. It's a really, it's a really great group.
You mentioned that the idea that your investments are limited to certain parts of the world. What are those parts and why?
Yeah, so we are within the venture world, we're considered a relatively, and I say that in quote marks over here, our small fund, because in the venture world, you know, you do have funds that are three and a half billion dollars or above. You know, and I'm not even talking about SoftBank, uh, of just in general food based funds, you have really gigantic ones, not necessarily investing in alternative protein but in food or in the general VC ecosystem. And what happens out of here, if you're a three and a half billion dollar fund, you are able to have low, you know, local footprints and a lot of parts of the country and in the world and you're able to, you know, find source support, et cetera, local deals, you're able to deal with any regulatory issues, et cetera. But we can't do that. I mean we're based in the U S and we have a limited amount of people on our team and so we have to focus on the places that A) we know best, B) we have the most collaborations within local a VC trusted collaborations between local VC contacts, or C) they have good relationships of from a monetary standpoint where the U S because of there's the capital that we bring back is going to be doubled, taxed or you know, it's going to be impossible to get it out of the country then that's not meeting our longterm expectations. We were doing this because we want to continue to be able to, you know, have, uh, the ability to invest or provide capital in this marketplace and if that is sacrificed that kind of beats the purpose.
So maybe this question doesn't really apply in terms of countries, which is how I was initially thinking of it, but in even in terms of the different areas of business that you invest in, we talked about the fairly diverse portfolio that Stray Dog Capital has. Are you in general more excited about the idea of focusing on markets with high demand for animal free foods and high competition from other companies or the opposite where there's not necessarily, there's not necessarily high demand, but there's also lower competition.
Yeah. And competition doesn't really scare us, but it would, we, we are, we, I would re articulate that to say high opportunity is what I'm looking for. So if that means that um, I'm investing in a market that has such a growing group of people who are interested in eating plant base and they're already seeking this and might not, the market might not reflect that yet. But you do know you have a good solid consumer base that wants to and you know, the, the product is attractive from a pricing tastes standpoint, et cetera. I am very attracted to those markets. I'm not interested at all in markets who I have to educate the consumer who have no type of awareness or desire to eat this way. That is a guaranteed way to lose your money because they're venture capital funds and even entrepreneurs entering markets where a lot of education needs to be done and nobody knows that, you know, you should eat plant-based or that animal agriculture is destroying the climate and there's no general like, Hey I want to eat plant based for my health or you know, I want to know where my food came from.
Like just that general awareness creating that is extremely expensive. We used to say a P and G there's nothing as expensive as you trying to create a new habit for a consumer like that, it almost never works. You know, it has to be something. There is an existing consumer need and you're fulfilling it in the best way possible. So I tried to shy away from those countries that still require and you know, are not as far ahead in terms of consumer desire and education. And I'm very attracted to those where the consumer market is there, it's just underserved or there's competition, but it's not good enough because if you, if you think about other, you know, other products out there, there's, there have been veggie burgers out there forever, right beyond me, it is not creating a new category. It's just doing it so much better than anybody else. And so you have to look at the competition and understand, you know, what their strengths are and if you believe that you can do significantly better based on the companies you have in your portfolio.
Okay. Uh, yeah. Interesting for thinking about how animal free food technology interacts with social change there with the idea of there needing to be a basic level of demand before you'd even consider investing in it. Um, it's a slightly different question. What do you think are some of the, the main strategic questions that are faced by the leadership of animal free food technology companies? Are there any questions that people have strong intuitions on either way and that you found that there are substantial disagreements between individuals on?
yeah, I have found, and this is cha, you know, been very, the positions on this, I've been widely different within my entrepreneurs because some entrepreneurs feel very strongly that you need to fulfill every single bucket and social justice and fairness and animal justice and you know, or you're a sellout. Um, or you know, if a general mills or something buys you, then you will have to give up, you know, your soul and everything you believe in. And there's the other range of that which is we will do everything short of selling our bodies to the devil to get this product to be as widely marketed as humanly possible. And that means that maybe I need to adjust it, you know, in whatever shape or form or that means that I am going to hold wages really low in my plans. You know, and you have the gamut in, in, in what do you, what does an entrepreneur or a founding group things counts.
Success. It is such a wide gamut where you either can never given an any type of belief whatsoever and you needed to hold everything to the top level. Um, so I'll give you an example of that. I had a company who had a, a really strong product, very good. Their original source of interest and passion was animals, which is great. The challenge was that they believe that if they gave up on any type of, you know, doing, making better decisions on what the marketplace has, then they were sacrificing who they were. So that meant that their employees were paid 50% more than the, you know, the average wage where they were living. That meant that they recover 100% of benefits. That meant that, you know, cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Right? So they really try to take this high road all the way through. But the challenge, what happens is that when I challenge entrepreneurs to think through all the time is the, you have to look at the end game.
That kind of goes back to the original place of, you have to have a longterm vision for the company. And what does that mean and what do, how do you want to get there? Right? But most importantly, where do you want to go? Because if you're a company that gets to, I don't know, one or $2 million, but cannot raise capital because you're burning one or $2 million a month because you're trying to do everything right by everybody, then you're sacrificing your longterm possibility of getting into a $5 billion company. And so it's really understanding what are the lines that you don't want to cross and what are the lines that you want to be pragmatic on? On the other side, you know, stepping on a bunch of bodies to get to $5 billion. Usually it doesn't pay out either. And so they, you know, I see so much difference of opinions as it relates to what are your trade offs and what are the, the lines, the Hills that you will absolutely, you know, die on in order to get your company to, to be a large company.
Yeah. That's very familiar from the, the nonprofit world. Interesting to hear you say that it's a continued dilemma in the, in the for profit world, this idea of a kind of trade off between broad versus animal focus or or broad versus narrow focus in terms of the way in which you try and do good and the way and the way in which you frame yourself as an organization as well. And this is a topic we've summarized the evidence for and against on our foundational questions summary page on sentences, each website, although mainly with, mainly with a view to thinking about animal advocacy strategy rather than a specific company. But yeah, interesting to hear in that for-profit context and also fits into this, this kind of often faced tradeoff of incremental versus absolute a reform in the sense of do you try and improve one thing and the company tries to, in this case it might, it would be replace animal products with non-animal products, but everything else, you just see yourself as a standard as capitalist company.
You're not trying to improve the world in every way you possibly could, but yeah. Interesting. Um, so just to shift topic a little bit again, something we spoke about a few times earlier was this idea of cellular, cellular agriculture companies and how you would trade off between investing in those versus investing in plant based companies. And you mentioned that you were seeing increasingly risky investments in cellular agriculture generally that you didn't necessarily approve of. But I'm just wondering how you as a organization, Stray Dog Capital ways up those that, that broad category because the, the sort of features of those two different types of investment are really different. The, the timelines were thinking about the risk involved already different. So how do you consider and decide between, say another investment in another cellular agriculture company versus an investment in another plant-based food company?
Yeah, so cultivated the cultivated space is a really interesting space that has captured the imagination of a lot of different investors and when they want to enter the, the plant, I'm going to say plan based in general, but let's, I'm using that as a, um, uh, equivalent to animal agriculture replacement. When they want to enter the space, they look at food and food technology companies and you know, kind of reflecting back on this bias that I shared with you, they're like, ah, you know, I don't know that's going to generate enough margins. However, a technology play something really complicated and sciency (if that's a word). It's very interesting, right? Because then you can see there could be patentable, uh, IP rights there. It's more protectable. It's definitely more highbrow than a lot of plan base companies in terms of, you know, how you make it.
And so they're very attracted to the idea of investing in this nascent technology, which is fabulous. The challenge is that we've been around the block enough. And I have looked at most of these 60 companies to know that there's a lot of similarities, especially in the new ones with some of the other ones that we've seen in our time evaluating him. And, um, it got to a point where we, we ended up outsourcing our technical evaluation and whenever any cultivated me company comes to us, we immediately put one of our consultants on it so they can really articulate to us and split the hairs of like, this is exactly why this is similar to the 10 other companies we looked at in the past month and this is exactly how they are different. And so we can really tell, Oh, this is a differentiated completely new approach. No, I never seen this before.
Or actually I've seen at least 10 other companies doing something similar and they don't know there's impossible for them to know. And so, um, and you know, like in the past couple of days I've received a couple of phone calls from other investors, um, external to, to our group and, and glass wall or the mission based group, just it mainstream investors. And um, they were like fascinated by, Oh, you did, you know, they're doing are more realize sells. Did you know that they're doing this technology? That's an analogy. And I'm like, yeah, they're all doing that. But if you have only listened to one company, then it sounds amazing. So it's only when you've been exposed to enough that you're like actually a, B, C and D are doing exactly the same process as you and they have three times as much funding and they are ready, their expertise comes in tissue engineering and cell biology and you're just a recently graduated, you know, master degree student and we love you.
But um, we think that this is highly risky and they're still getting investment. And so, you know, this category, if I were to hypothesize what's going to happen is that at some point in the market is going to be less enthusiastic because it is a technology that's going to take a little bit longer. Number two, if the economy like in any way, shape or stumbles that funding to cultivate it will dry out because you need to be a patient investor to get this return on an investment. And number three, I think when a or one or two happen, what's going to happen is that a lot of these companies will consolidate. And so if I were a Mosa Meats or a SuperMeat, then I would say, Hey, I'll take you, you, you and you come work for us. Um, you seem to be developing this one interesting thing. I'll plug you into our stuff and, and we'll move forward. Um, there, I don't think that 60 companies make any sense based on where they are on the technology development, which is to say almost the exact same place.
Okay. So this idea of you having access to this sort of information about which companies are doing what, where they overlap, where they don't. Interesting from a number of angles. One is the, the report I mentioned earlier, the Founder's Pledge report about impact investing does emphasize that one way in which impact investors can have counterfactual impact is when they have access to information that other companies don't have access to. And that seems to be an example, but it also begs a question to me of why that information isn't public. Like if you say that companies don't realize, but you guys do, is there a way that we can better strategize as a movement in terms of animal free food technology for how can we be more aware of what's happening where and avoid these kinds of overlaps?
This is a really tricky one because what happens is that the, the cell, the cultivated meat space really should have been in academia in my opinion, for at least, you know, a couple more years. So they could have been a, they're gonna all started from a place, a lot further up the chain and had information that everybody received at the same time. And you just had to focus on how to customize and expand your cell types or how to go to market or, you know, and so what's happened is it because they took it, they took this technology from an incredibly nascent direction and they're all trying to, you know, start at the starting line basically. Is that a lot of the initial development, it's very similar across the board. And so the, you know, how do you get that information external? You can't because every single company is protecting that deeply.
Um, and nobody's sharing that information with each other. It's a matter of fact, I, we were talking to a media, a media, uh, manufacturer, a startup who, what they wanted to do is work on serum free media that was customizable to each one of these cultivated me companies, which makes perfect sense because let me tell you, all of them are working on serum free media, um, gross room. And so the, you know, the concept of the company makes sense. What they found is that a lot of these companies were very closed mouth about what progress they've made or where they were. And even though they could probably potentially have brought in additional value, they wouldn't give up anything because they are so concerned about the other 59 companies are doing something similar and any thought of potential leak of information, you know, gives a magic TA.
And so, you know, widespread information regarding where they are. I don't think that's going to happen until we start seeing this con, the consolidation and the, and the difficult part about it is the reason that there's been so much investment in cultivating big companies while they're 60 is because investors don't know ease the either, you know, this is a completely new category. The only reason Stray Dog Capital and knows about a lot of how to differentiate from one to the other and has the already established consultants is because we've been doing this for the longest among our peer set us and along with some of very close mission based companies, I've been doing this from the beginning and over time we've developed a better understanding internally as to how to differentiate the companies and what we believe. Um, you know, it is a reason for success, but if you're not in that place, it's really hard to evaluate them properly.
Sure. Yeah. This, I mean, concerning, I guess with this idea of it all being locked up in, in private information, private companies, they've obviously got certain financial interests blah blah blah. Um, another, I guess issue that has come with or at least potential issue that has come with companies getting involved in this space rather than it staying in academia is the what seemed to be overly optimistic timelines and projections giving about when cellular agriculture products will be cost competitive. So I think that startups might feel compelled to be optimistic cause they want to convince investors, uh, that there's a good chance of making their money back. And individual researchers might also be optimistic because they might be working on a specific part of the process and they're making progress on that specific part, but they forget about the other bottlenecks involved or they're not accounting for unforeseen difficulties.
There's just genuinely lots of reasons why these timelines might be quite optimistic. There's a great post by animal charity evaluators from 2017 so a couple of years ago now about timelines and predictions for when different product types will be cost competitive with conventional animal products. Talking about Saturday Croce are still here. And some of the earlier predictions have already been shown to be overly optimistic. And I'm thinking, an example that I always have in my head is the company just claimed that they would have culture, meat products on the market by the end of 2018 and unless I've missed something pretty major that hasn't happened. So as an investor, how do you deal with this sort of optimism and uncertainty when people are making these projections, which just seem implausible or just not very likely to come true?
Yeah. So the benefit that we have as, as a mission and investor is that a, we're able to get the true story and how the entrepreneur is thinking about it actually as opposed to the cell story most of the time. Because at the end of the day, it's not going to push us off from supporting you as an entrepreneur, but we need to know what we're looking here. Otherwise we can't properly, you know, say, save out the funds that you're going to need us on, uh, as an entrepreneur for follow on capital. And so we're able to really get clear perspective from entrepreneurs that I don't think most investors are able to get because they understand that we're in this for the long run. If they were to tell you know, average, you know, Jenny Sue at an institutional fund who was the first time investing in cultivated meat and is used to technology companies that turn around in five years and gets sold for crazy amounts of money.
Then of course they're going to tell Jenny Sue that this company going gonna be selling products in a year and it's going to be cost competitive in two years. But the reality is that this is, we all need to be very patient. We cultivate it. Me, this is not a small trivial amount of discovery and scientific process that needs to happen. Um, and anybody who's investing in cultivated who doesn't have a long timeline is not going to be happy with the results because we do believe that it's going to be game changing. But we need enough time to have these companies of development not only get out like an, you know, a square inch of it but actually make it an enough of a scaled up way too to be meaningful. And so that's gonna take a while. Um, which is why, you know, we continue to invest in cultivated, but we believe plant-based has nothing but upside and we believe that part of the reason that plant-based has been so scarce is definitely, you know, entrepreneurial interest i.e. you know, entrepreneurs looking at food and looking at technology or other braces and saying, well that looks more attractive. I can get, you know, a great return here, but I don't see a lot of ECS on the M foods. I'm just going to lean this way. So there's been just in general, not a lot of companies, number one that has changed. Number two, I think the other piece with where we are right now is that not only are there many more entrepreneurs like just hitting the plant base and the cultivated meat space, but there's also a lot of more consumer openness and desire to have these products reach them, which we talked about that. So the supply and demand alignment is much better than we've ever seen. And what that causes is so much more acceleration of pricing, scale in trends, venture money, you know, talented entrepreneurs. And so that whole category has gotten and continues to get so much momentum that I have, you know, uh, and I, and not only me, but our entire team at Stray Dog Capital, have so much interest and, and we feel so bullish about the plan base sector. Now we do believe that we do need cultivated meat, but that doesn't stop us from, you know, continuing to invest in plant based.
Definitely. So I think talking about the, the greatest bottlenecks, uh, being faced by cellular agriculture companies and the cellular agriculture field would be a whole other podcast episode. And one that I intend to have really another time. But in terms of GlassWall Syndicate, Stray Dog Capital... the kind of impact investing space. What are the biggest constraints on that space specifically in terms of achieving greater impact than it currently does? Do you think?
What I would like the most in us in order for us to achieve our ultimate goal of, for us to be able to say when we close our eyes on this earth, the last time that we did what we came to do is we need to get to all the categories. And, and you mentioned fish before. Um, seafood in general is very, very underserved. And so getting access to amazing talented entrepreneurs who are there aren't going to focus on seafood. And not only that, but in this situation with seafood and in cultivated seafood as well, there's a huge opportunity for academia to get involved because you don't have 60 seafood companies that are doing cultivated. And so there's still time to advance a whole category to a point where the entrepreneurs can take it all the way to the market. Not having to do it from zero to a hundred but taking it to 50 from 50 to 100 but there's a huge opportunity there.
If we are not successful and um, getting enough of these products to market, finding amazing entrepreneurs that have great ideas and products and helping them get to market, then that will be, we, we would not have met our criteria because that is such a level of high need. And there's other categories like that. But I think, you know, the pricing, I E the cheap plant-based replacements specifically is an area of opportunity and as well as beef, seafood is as well. You know, right now many of these plant based products that, that we have very proudly help to get to market are still incredibly expensive. So we're not even able to serve every single person who would like to eat them. And so they're, you know, there's so much more work to do and I think those two would prevent us from having the level of impact that we would aspire to have and really penetrating the categories that needed the most, um, in the time that we have, because there is no time to waste. We need this yesterday. We need these entrepreneurs to be in market yesterday. Uh, we need these products to be in consumer's hands tomorrow. We're in such a crisis mode from an environmental and, and humane standpoint that, um, we need to accelerate and, and I feel personal frustration that, you know, us Stray Dog Capital haven't been able to accelerate those more. You know, I wish they were the point where we had a, a seafood company lining up behind it, beyond an impossible food to IVL already. But that's, that's still remains our objective.
Okay. So earlier in the conversation I got the impression from you that you thought that there was relatively little impact investing compared to the number of companies that are available. Uh, sorry, the number of startups that are, are being started do just have the impression that there is just real cost stirring on certain product types. Like are people just clustering on burgers and therefore there's just not enough distribution across the possible product.
There's more, there's a big focus on burgers and hotdogs and products like that. And, um, especially in beef, um, and not enough focused yet on many of the other species that we need to get to. And it's because the, you know, some of these companies, I've had such great success that it's been very attractive. And so, you know, we talked to, we have Ali companies internationally, you know, and so we talked to people from all over the world and, um, I can't tell you how many more burger companies are coming up and every corner of the world with all kinds of different names, all saying that they're as good or better than beyond made. Um, but I, I'm not getting that many calls yet on, you know, Hey, we have a seafood that would be the equivalent of beyond meat, um, that, you know, goes after all kinds of species, uh, from the ocean.
Okay. This is, this is fascinating to me because I think from a effective altruism point of view, from an impact perspective, going for chicken product replacements and going for fish product replacements is kind of the obvious step that you would go for in the sense of the suffering involved in producing those products and the numbers of animals. So is this, you think this is just the existing precedent of companies, people think it, do people just think it's so much more tractable? Do they think there's going to be so much better return for them as individuals? Is there, like why is this, why is there that clustering? Like what's causing that?
Yeah. I think for at least the, for the United States, the burger focus, um, and you know, like the burger and I would add hotdogs to that or sausages, um, focus has come because there's been a sub movement outside of the non, the alternative, um, protein world for expensive, fancy hamburgers and hotdogs. And there's been a lot of growth of fast casual restaurants, uh, a little bit better than fast food, but you know, and their main offering point here in the U S has been that they offer these amazing burgers and more expensive of course, but um, whether it be free range or just more tasty, blah, blah, blah. So there's already this movement of just making fences, buying the burger, let's call it. And the sausage. And so I think beyond meat and, and companies like that, we're able to ride that or that market trend already an interest in these categories.
And then everybody else just follows that because they looks like, Hey, if you make a burger or a sausage, you have a lot of investor interest. The media covers you. And so now you have that propagation of that everywhere. Now fish, I think it almost like fish, but seafood in general is a harder category then to make a burger. Um, so if you think about making a, a tuna or someone filets significantly more complex, so there's additional complexity that is involved in making seafood. And so not that many entrepreneurs have gone in that direction, although that is changing. And the challenge with chicken unfortunately is because from a pricing standpoint, she can, chicken is relatively cheaper than the other categories. Um, then you know, plant-based on or entrepreneur who's looking at different types of products looks at that insight is, Oh my goodness, I got to get my product to this level in order to be relatively competitive, still more expensive, but you know, relatively competitive and they see that as an incredible challenge and they tend to go into a different, easier category that they can price higher in the beginning.
I, you know, I think that over time getting inputs that help our plan based entrepreneurs and make cheaper products, um, ideally subsidies from the government, things will change over time to help us get to a place where we can get to the, you know, more chicken everywhere and everybody making chicken and getting to competitive products. And you know, the, the, I go back to that what I said earlier where now millennials in the U S are outnumbering baby boomers in the U S who have really dictated the political and just the overall representation in our government, um, up to now. Um, I think it will be really interesting to see what happens because the more millennials that get into government, uh, the more that I think policies will change over time and they're more open and government, uh, would be to adding subsidies to other things outside of food, food and animal agriculture, um, in the food bill that then will inevitably have a overall price positive price impact for plant base that will enable us to get competitive with, um, with animal agriculture.
Cool. Yeah. Thanks for sharing that. Uh, as I say, it's exciting the idea, um, that these areas are there, are there are fruitful opportunities there from your perspective as well. I think I've been sort of given how obvious the impact case seemed to me, I've been trying to sort of steelman the idea that maybe burgers are where people should be focusing because there's so much more tractable or something else. But yeah, really interesting to hear your perspectove on that. Just before we run out of time, I want to quickly ask a couple of questions about sort of careers perspectives. Um, is there much transfer between the employees at impact investing groups, funding animal free food technology startups and the employees at the startups themselves?
Not really. I don't know why that is until you asked me that, but no, what I will, I will say is that there is some level of imp, some level of transfers in transference in terms of interest. So let me, let me explain. I go to conferences quite often and um, inevitably somebody will stop me and say, Hey, I have a lot of passion for this area. And here my, you know, I'm pretty ahead in my career, you know, a pretty senior year in my career. Here are all my skill sets. I want to help, right? I can't go and leave and join a startup because I have a family to support, but I want to help in some way, shape or form. And some of those have turned into investors in our fund and some of those have turned absolutely fantastic resources for entrepreneurs.
So even if the people aren't able to, you know, join, move, pack up and move to San Francisco and live off $40,000 a year, you can still help and still provide a lot of value to these entrepreneurs. And so what we've seen is that we have been able to act as a conduit to help these people have a place to say, okay, here's my skill sets. Where do I go? And for us to be able to say, okay, give us your name, here's a person you can talk to, here's a group that needs you, do you have an answer for this question? And sort of act as a broker in a way. Uh, which has been great. The other piece is that outside of GlassWall Syndicate who trains people to be investors, which is incredibly helpful. We've been able to, you know, over time have different people who are interested in learning venture capital and have worked with us in a couple of projects and then go on and either work at mainstream VCs and convince them to put more money into alternative proteins or, or perhaps even start funds themselves. And so we've been able to also help, um, in or create a new generation of allies together, but within us to, you know, kind of staffing directly startups, not really w it's been very much of more of a networking and resource deployment relationship.
So we spoke earlier about the preparation and experiences that might help for entrepreneurship. Uh, what's your, what your best guesses about the best sort of preparation that can be done to be a good candidate for a role at an impact investment organization?
So for impact investments, I'll say impact investment, answer that question for impact investment and entrepreneurship. So for impact investment, what I look for to join our group and we talked about passion before. That's really important for us as Stray Dog Capital, you know, all the people that work for us really similar to what I shared with you that I'm looking for in entrepreneurs. I really do take this seriously in the sense of, you know, like this is not a nice to have or if, you know, if we all fail, it's okay. Like we really do believe that this is incredibly important and impactful and if we can help, um, aid entrepreneurs in doing what they do best, then you know, we're going to be in a world of trouble. We believe that changing the food system is the best way to helping with, um, the environmental degradation that we're seeing.
And so, you know, absolute passion is number one. Number two, we look for people that are eternal students. Um, and I actually look for that in entrepreneurs too. So people that are, I love these people that say, Oh, you know, I, I'm about to um, grow our company from five people to a hundred people, let's say between raises. And they do grow that incredibly fast. And I have never managed such a large organization, but I read these three books. I'm speaking with these two people and I got an executive coach. That's what I want. I want people are able to say, Hey, I'm an eternal student. I'm always learning and I'm going to figure it out. It doesn't matter what the world throws at me. I'm going to grab the right resources to help me and I am going to be very proactive about it.
So that's important to me. In venture, you do have to have a very analytical mind. I mean, I think when people look at our firm, I think they expect me to walk around and braids and Birkenstocks, you know, they, they sort of expect that our team is going to be some hippy-dippy cult, or something, uh, as opposed to professionals that are very, very much, um, analytical and, uh, data minded, uh, but that just, you know, have a passion for what we need to do. And so we need, that's what I look for for people that work in our organization is very analytical, very thought minded, but also not to a point where they can't see opportunities because you can be very data minded, but you can't let that drive you all the way in entrepreneur, in venture capital or entrepreneurship because you only have half of the information or less. So there's gotta be a level of, of gut and a level of instinct. Um, and then just finally, I would say relational. They are very good at, uh, relationships and can, you know, talk to entrepreneurs, they can talk to other investors, they can talk to resources and they can leverage all of those relationships into making us better at what we do. And the entrepreneurial side is almost exactly the same. The only additional piece that I, that I look for is an ability to, you know, add and convince other people and be persuasive.
Sure. I mean, loads of stuff I'd love to dig into on that, but I think we're going to run out of time, so I'll just, I'll just have to say thank you very much for joining us.
Yes, this was such a pleasure! Great questions.
Thank you. Um, and, and just lastly, if somebody wants to get involved with straight or capital, whether that's seeking investment as an entrepreneur or whatever, what's the best way they can do so?
Yeah, so through a website we have a contact form there or you can email me directly at email@example.com.
Brilliant. Okay. Thank you very much again, Lisa.
Thanks for listening. I hope you enjoyed this episode. You can subscribe to the Sentience Institute podcast in iTunes, Stitcher, or other podcast apps.