Venture capital firms have long been equated with the software space because the businesses that are funded are easily scalable. Invest in a small company making a cool product that fills a void in the market, expand the company, mass-produce the product and make billions. Food is of course a little different, because at the end of the day, we are talking about something that at its core is very low-tech. We have been growing and eating food since we were on this planet.
There are a lot of food startups out there, from apps to buy groceries to vegan meat; money is quickly flowing into anything and everything that has to do with eating. And where is that money coming from? Certainly a Kickstarter campaign here and there, but if there's a game changer on the block when it comes to food start-ups, it's actually venture capital firms. Forget the pedal-powered taco truck funded by an all you can drink margarita fundraiser, these are big projects with big money.
But venture capital isn't shying away from that. In fact, according to Pando Daily, in the first nine months of 2013, food-related startups have raised $798.1 million in venture funds, and it's not just companies that are making a revolutionary product that eventually could be mass-marketed and take over the world. It's everything from meal kit services that allow you to order all you need to cook a specific meal at home from one site to platforms that connect private chefs to people hosting dinner parties in need of someone to cook for them.
So why the interest of the VC firms? Well, it's food after all, and everyone loves food, and as it turns out, it's lucrative. From PandoDaily:
Part of the reason VCs are investing in food is because traditional food investors aren’t. Since Marc Andreessen famously declared that software would “eat the world,” tech has increasingly crept into the food industry.
And food is a huge industry. I’m sure plenty of startups toss a big flashy number like “$10 trillion in the United States alone!” into their decks. Valuations are getting frothy: very early stage companies in the general food category are garnering valuations of up to $10 million.
The real question is, what those venture capitalists like to eat for dinner. Soylent?
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Image: Lucius Kwok