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Mar 20, 2018

Ryan Caldbeck has two words for brands planning to raise capital in 2018: be careful. With billions of dollars in play in the red-hot CPG space, Caldbeck, the co-founder and CEO of funding platform CircleUp, is advising brands to take extra caution when vetting potential investment partners. He believes that while funding opportunities for food and beverage companies are the most abundant since launching the firm in 2013, he’s concerned about the lack of a strategic component in the money that is currently flowing in from large private equity firms and tech-focused venture capital firms. “They will pay close to zero attention from the $2 billion fund that just invested $10 million; they won’t know their name,” Caldbeck said of some large investors. “Now you’ve partnered with someone that’s not going to give you the support beyond capital.” In an interview included in this episode of Taste Radio, Caldbeck noted that “the tailwinds and the structural dynamics for early-stage consumer companies -- call it $1-$15 million in revenue -- are extremely attractive” for investors of all kinds. Yet, he urged fast-growing companies to “think about the incentives of the investor or the partner that you’re working with” and ask “who else have you worked with that looks like me?” “And when you can drill down on who else they’ve worked with that has similar growth drivers of your business, you’ll find an investor or a partner that’s right for you,” he said. Within the food industry, few categories are attracting more investment than plant-based and lab-grown meat. The Good Food Institute (GFI), a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of plant-based meat brands, is helping to support the growth of many companies in the space. This episode includes a full-length conversation with GFI co-founder and executive director Bruce Friedrich, who details the origins of the organization (it was “literally a religious calling,” he said) and how it supports scientific research and investment in the clean meat space. In this week’s edition of Elevator Talk, we meet with Nansee Kim-Parker, the founder and CEO of Yoot, a brand of ready-to-drink herbal root teas made with herbs and spices. This episode is presented by Saffron Road. Show notes: 2:05: Waxing on West -- The hosts chat about their biggest takeaways from Expo West 2018, including how the show reflected a shift in the retail landscape and route-to-market for natural brands and showcased the sophistication and rapid maturity of many early-stage/pre-launch companies. 16:47: Interview: Ryan Caldbeck, CEO/Co-Founder, CircleUp -- We sat down with Caldbeck at the 2018 Winter Fancy Food Show, where he offered his perspective on the landscape and climate for CPG investment. 42:28: Interview: Bruce Friedrich, Co-Founder/Executive Director, The Good Food Institute -- Also joining us at the Fancy Food Show was Friedrich, who spoke about the the rapidly emerging plant-based meat space and where the category is headed. In our conversation, he detailed a clash in perspective with some in vegan community, why GFI is stressing “clean meat” as the preferred nomenclature versus “lab-grown,” regulatory hurdles for clean meat and how improved technology and taste is helping to win over consumers. 1:13:26: Elevator Talk: Nansee Kim-Parker, Founder, Yoot -- Inspired by the traditions of Ayurvedic Herbal Medicine and Chinese Herbal Medicine. Yoot is a brand of herbal root teas brewed from superfood herbs. We caught up with founder Nansee Kim-Parker who dug into the roots of her brand in this edition of Elevator Talk. Brands in this episode: Beyond Meat, JUST, Impossible Foods, Tyson Foods, Maple Leaf, Field Roast, Tofurky, Boca, Memphis Meats, Gardein, Finless Foods, Good Catch Foods, Yoot Tea