Sowing seeds for a modern food system | 2021-07-19

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CHICAGO and LOS ANGELES – Supply Change Capital invests in start-ups modernizing the food system. Founded by Managing Partners Shayna Harris and Noramay Cadena, the fund seeks to support diverse entrepreneurs operating at the intersection of food, culture and technology.

“Multicultural founders are under-represented in today’s food system, despite America’s fastest growing population,” Ms. Harris said. “Latin, black and Asian consumers are much more likely to choose natural and organic foods. Their buying behavior is not only trending, but it surpasses that of white Americans. However, the overwhelming majority of food brands are not founded or owned by entrepreneurs who match the consumer demographics. “

Ms Harris and Ms Cadena met over a decade ago while attending a business school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Prior to launching the fund, Ms. Harris held senior management positions with the fresh vending machine company Farmer’s Fridge. Previously, she was Global Head of Cocoa and Chocolate Sourcing and Impact at Mars, Inc. Ms. Cadena was a co-founder and Managing Partner of MiLA Capital, a technology-investing venture capital firm. She also leads investments for Portfolio’s Rising America Fund, supporting founders Latinx, Black and LGBTQIA. A mechanical and systems engineer, she previously worked in the aerospace industry and co-founded the national non-profit Latinas in STEM foundation.

To date, Supply Change has invested in two companies. In June, the fund participated in a fundraising fundraiser for Ayo Foods, a Chicago-based West African food brand offering flavors and ingredients such as egusi melon seeds and gusi leaves. cassava and sorghum. The startup offers frozen meals and recently launched a range of long-life sauces. Cleveland Avenue, a venture capital fund created by former McDonald’s executive Don Thompson, led the Ayo Foods fundraiser.

“Although we have a unique business idea and strong professional experience in the food industry, capital could potentially be a barrier to our success,” said Perteet Spencer, co-founder of Ayo Foods. “Supply Change Capital’s commitment to partnering with underfunded founders like Ayo will allow the entire market to benefit from more disruptive innovation. “

In July, Supply Change invested in Culinary Flo, an e-commerce and food logistics platform for foodservice operators to market and sell menu items online. Founded by former Snap Kitchen CEO Jon Carter, the startup aspires to become “the Shopify of perishable foods” for the restaurant industry, helping business owners scale while reducing waste and optimizing margins.

Supply Change managing partners bring not only capital but also community and operational expertise. One percent of the fund is intended to support founders through leadership coaching, mental health, and diversity and inclusion initiatives.

“What we’ve learned both creating and investing in start-ups over the past six years is that founders’ burnout, coupled with an under-culture and leadership skills assessed, can hinder growth and the acquisition and retention of talent, ”Ms. Cadena said. mentionned. “We are working in partnership with an executive coaching company to develop an exclusive approach to portfolio support. “

Less than 3% of last year’s venture capital funding supported Color’s founders, yet purchasing power is accelerating across various populations. Investing in various food and food technology founders is a overlooked opportunity with high returns, Ms. Cadena and Ms. Harris said.

“We envision the ‘new American table’, where the mix of founders setting up businesses and receiving funding to accelerate their growth matches the diversity of our country,” said Ms. Harris.

Ms. Cadena added, “Supply Change Capital believes in a future that is sustainable, efficient in the supply chain, better for you and rich in culture.


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