At GFI, we’re focused on using markets to build a better food system. So naturally, we’re fangirling (and fanboying) over Lisa Feria, who is accelerating the plant-based and clean meat sectors as CEO of Stray Dog Capital.
The mission-driven venture capital firm is an early stage investor for countless game-changing startups whose products are displacing the use of animals in our supply chain. And Lisa Feria is leading the charge. Stray Dog’s portfolio ranges from the Beyond Burger and Mosa Meat to the meal planning tool Lighter and medical biotech company Emulate.
With a degree in Chemical Engineering, an MBA, and deep business experience with companies ranging from 350MM to 2.5BN, Lisa knows what it takes to succeed on the cutting-edge of innovation, and she can spot a promising team with a worthy idea. She’ll be speaking about leveraging capital for good at our Good Food Conference in September (sign up for our live stream to follow along!). But before then, we snagged a moment of her time for an insider’s perspective on how to land funding from a mission-driven venture capital firm. Read on!
What sets Stray Dog apart in the VC space?
Stray Dog Capital is a mission-based venture capital firm focused on taking animals out of the supply chain through early stage investments. We focus on food but also have invested in health and technology companies.
Why has there been such a groundswell of investment activity in the plant-based sector recently?
Three things are colliding to make it an exciting space: Millennials are pushing the market towards plant-based products, the technology behind products such as clean meat has advanced significantly, and there are more exciting companies than ever creating amazing products.
As an early stage investor, what criteria do you look at when deciding where/how to invest?
The team is above and beyond the most important aspect of the investment. A great product with a bad team will not make it. However, an excellent team with an average product will surround themselves with the best people, run through obstacles, and pivot as needed in order to deliver great results.
What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give to entrepreneurs just starting to look for early-stage funding?
Have a point of view and, ideally, have evidence that supports that point of view on product/market fit, target consumer, profitability, projections etc. We had a team pitch us that not only had a very distinct point of view but they also had already proven—via a cheap Facebook test—that people were willing to sign up to purchase their product (even before there was a product). They were ahead of the curve.
Are there areas in the plant-based and clean meat sectors that deserve more attention than they’re currently getting from entrepreneurs?
Alternative ingredients—and almost every category can always use even better products. We’ve come a long way but there’s even more to go.
How often do find yourself to be the only woman at the table?
I find myself being the only or one of the few more than I’d care to admit but there are some amazing female investors in his space—Susan Vitka, Amy Trakinski, Liz Dee among others.
How did you move from Chemical Engineering to become the CEO of a mission-driven VC firm in the good food space?
The co-founders of Stray Dog Capital were looking for someone to lead the fund while I was looking for my next adventure, and God enabled the connection.