Lever VC announces first close of Lever VC Fund I; Fund has US$23 million in committed capital and a portfolio of ten trailblazing startups across the U.S., Europe and Asia
New York — Lever VC, a global alternative protein venture capital fund whose partners were investors in Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, Memphis Meats and other sector leaders, announced today it recently completed the first close of Lever VC Fund I. The Fund, which is investing globally in early stage plant-based and cell-cultivated meat and dairy companies, has already amassed a portfolio of ten trailblazing alternative protein startups around the world. The Fund currently has $23 million USD in capital commitments.
“The alternative protein market is continuing to grow quickly, and with our deep experience and proven record of returns in the sector, as well as preeminent deal flow across the North America, Europe, Asia and beyond, Lever VC is perfectly positioned to deliver value to investors looking for financial or strategic exposure to alternative protein” said Lawrence Chu, Lever VC Partner and founder of Lever VC GP Venture Smart Financial Holdings Limited. Lever VC has staff and venture partners in the U.S., U.K., France, Israel, India, Hong Kong, mainland China, and Singapore.
The Lever VC Fund I portfolio includes TurtleTree Labs, the first company in the world producing cow’s milk and human breast milk from cell cultivation; Better Meat Co, whose plant-based meat protein blend is featured in Perdue Farms products at over 7,000 grocery stores across the U.S.; Good Planet Foods, a top plant-based cheese player with distribution at Walmart, Albertsons, Kroger, Costco, White Castle and elsewhere; Mission Barns, whose cell-cultivated bacon products are currently available at select restaurants in San Francisco; The Good Spoon, a fast-growing plant-based condiments brand with distribution at top European retailers; and Bond Pet Foods, the first company in the world producing real meat protein from fermentation. Lever VC leverages its own proprietary database to track over 1,200 alternative protein companies globally.
Lever VC Managing Partner Nick Cooney and Partner Lawrence Chu have been investing in the alternative protein sector since 2015, and were investors in Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, Memphis Meats, JUST, Aleph Farms, Kite Hill and other leading plant-based and cultivated meat and dairy companies. Lawrence Chu has also deployed over $450 million USD in private equity investments in conventional animal protein companies. Nick Cooney co-founded the Good Food Institute, the world’s largest alternative protein industry NGO, and has worked with major food groups in North America, Europe, Latin America and Asia for 15 years.
“We decided to invest in alternative protein in 2018, and started approaching a few VCs,” said Benny Pei, Lever VC Partner and Chief Investment Officer of Lever VC GP DFP Capital. “We were most impressed with the Lever VC founders’ long investment experience and track record in this exciting field, so we joined them to start strategically deploying assets in this fast-growing global sector.”
Lever VC will continue to identify investment opportunities in early stage alternative protein companies, and remains open to additional investors until reaching final close. The Fund is confident the alternative protein sector will continue to grow quickly due to increasing consumer interest in health, food safety and sustainability, and Lever VC is uniquely positioned to capture the enormous opportunities ahead.
About Lever VC
Lever VC is a venture capital fund making early stage investments in alternative protein companies: fast-growing plant-based meat and dairy brands and high-tech startups creating real animal protein from cells instead of live animals. Lever VC was formed by a team of investors in Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, Memphis Meats, and other category leaders. The Fund’s alternative protein experts have a combined 25+ years of experience investing, launching companies, and selling and marketing alternative protein products, and have deployed over $1.5 billion USD in venture capital and private equity investments, including over 40 early stage alternative protein deals. For more information, please visit www.LeverVC.com.
About Venture Smart Asia Limited (“VSAL”)
VSAL, the investment manager of Lever VC, is a company incorporated in Hong Kong and whose registered office is at 23/F, Lee Garden Five, 18 Hysan Avenue, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, and is a licensed corporation regulated by the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong for types 1 (dealing in securities), 4 (advising on securities) and 9 (asset management) regulated activities pursuant to the Securities and Futures Ordinance. VSAL is a member of Venture Smart Financial Group (“VSFG”). The products mentioned above are available to Professional Investors only (as defined under the Securities and Futures Ordinance).
About DFP Capital
Hong Kong-based DFP Capital has been investing in the food and beverage industry since 2016, when it formed an equity fund in partnership with Tiantu Capital. Capitalized with more than RMB 1.5 billion (USD $214 million), the fund has invested in around 20 projects in mainland China, including Pagoda, a 4,000-outlet fruit retail chain, and Nayuki, a 400-outlet teahouse and bakery chain. DFP Capital also directly operates a dairy farm and a dairy processor in Australia and distributes its Nepean River Dairy brand products in an increasing number of high-end supermarkets and online in China, highlighting DFP Capital’s additional capacity in commercial operation.