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Dec 14, 2021

An early-stage investment in Sweetgreen helped set the table. Now, Maxine Kozler Koven is focused on funding companies whose brands will complete the meals of future generations. 

Koven is the co-founder and co-managing partner of LDR Ventures & Consulting, a female-led, California-based venture capital and management consulting firm. LDR invests in and advises consumer brands, technology and service companies at the seed and Series A level. In addition to Sweetgreen, the firm’s portfolio includes stakes in online grocery platform Thrive Market, organic herbal tea brand Shaka Tea, better-for-you meal kit company Territory Foods and Moku, a brand of mushroom-based jerky. 


LDR’s primary focus is providing mentorship and investment in companies led by female and BIPOC entrepreneurs. The goal, according to the firm, is to address systemic shifts and emerging behavioral trends, and simply “make people’s lives better.”


In an interview recorded at BevNET Live Winter 2021, we spoke with Koven, who was a speaker and judge as part of the event’s New Beverage Showdown 22 competition, for an insider’s perspective on LDR’s funding history and investment philosophy. As part of our conversation, she spoke about the importance of nurturing the development of early-stage founders, the relevance of innovation when evaluating new concepts and her answer as to why there has been an historical lack of funding for female-led companies.

Show notes:

0:44: Maxine Kozler Koven, Co-Founder & Co-Managing Director, LDR Ventures & Consulting – Koven and Taste Radio editor Ray Latif chatted about her first experience at BevNET Live and notable conversations from the event, their shared history as graduates of Boston University and how her background as a music/talent manager relates to her roles as an investor and advisor. She also spoke about how she met the founders of Sweetgreen and evaluated the company’s business model, why LDR’s ethos evolved as the firm met new founders and why Koven says that LDR invests in brands “for the reasons that they might not get investment from traditional VC firms.” Later, she explained why LDR invested in Thrive Market despite its very lean beginnings, how the deal with Shaka Tea came together and what impressed Koven about the founders, missing out on investing in Health-Ade, enlisting a sampling team from across the U.S. as part of the process for evaluating new brands, why she encourages more wealthy people to invest in early-stage startups and why consistent communication between entrepreneurs and investors is key to a successful relationship. 

Brands in this episode: Sweetgreen, Shaka Tea, Moku, Thrive Market, Sourse, Zico