The venture capital fund whose partners invested in Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, and Memphis Meats has completed the first close of $23 million

A selection of meats on a barbecue
Photo as seen on Lever VC’s website

Lever VC has announced the first close of the Lever VC Fund I, a venture capital fund that invests globally in early-stage plant-based and cell-cultivated meat and dairy companies. The fund has secured $23 million in committed capital, and its portfolio includes ten trailblazing start-ups across the US, Europe and Asia.

Headquartered in New York, Lever VC is a global alternative protein venture capital fund whose partners were investors in Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, and Memphis Meats among other first-movers in the alternative protein space.

“The alternative protein market is continuing to grow quickly,” said Lawrence Chu, Lever VC Partner. “With our deep experience and proven record of returns in the sector, as well as preeminent deal flow across 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.”

Lever VC has staff and venture partners in the US, UK, France, Israel, India, Hong Kong, mainland China, and Singapore.

The VC firm said it uses a proprietary database to track over 1,200 alternative protein companies globally.

Portfolio brands in Lever VC Fund I

TurtleTree Labs, the first company in the world producing cow’s milk and human breast milk from cell cultivation, is one of the latest brands to join the Lever VC Fund I portfolio.

Other brands in the fund include:

  • Better Meat Co, whose plant-based meat protein blend is featured in Perdue Farms products at over 7,000 grocery stores across the US
  • Good Planet Foods, a top plant-based cheese player with distribution at Walmart, Albertsons, Kroger, Costco, and White Castle
  • 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
  • Bond Pet Foods, the first company in the world to produce real meat protein from fermentation processes

Investment experience

Lever VC managing partner Nick Cooney and partner Lawrence Chu have been investing in the alternative protein sector since 2015. Both invested in Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, Memphis Meats, JUST, Aleph Farms, Kite Hill and other plant-based and cultivated meat and dairy companies.

Chu has also deployed over $450 million in private equity investments in conventional animal protein companies.

Cooney co-founded the Good Food Institute, the world’s largest alternative protein industry NGO. He has also worked with major food groups in North America, Europe, Latin America and Asia for the past 15 years.

“We decided to invest in alternative protein in 2018, and started approaching a few VCs,” said Benny Pei, Lever VC partner. “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.”

Cooney told NutritionInvestor that the company continue to identify investment opportunities in early-stage alternative protein companies, and remains open to additional investors until reaching a final close of $50 million.

Date published: 17 August 2020

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