The Startupbootcamp Mentor Spotlight is a series of interviews profiling inspiring stories from our extended network of mentors at Startupbootcamp FoodTech Rome. Today, the spotlight is focused on our mentor Dan Altschuler Malek.
Dan Altschuler Malek is the Sr Venture Partner at New Crop Capital, an early-stage fund that backs entrepreneurs developing plant-based and cultured meat alternatives to foods derived from conventional animal agriculture (beef, chicken, pork, dairy, egg, fish, and shellfish). The portfolio includes Memphis Meats, Beyond Meats, Geltor, Wicked Meaty, Aleph & Miyoko’s Kitchen. Dan explores deal flow, pursues global strategic opportunities, and works with founders to solve daily and strategic challenges.
Q: What brings you to Startupbootcamp FoodTech? How could you be value-added for selected teams?
As a mission-driven fund focused exclusively on direct replacements to animal protein products, New Crop provides entrepreneurs with strategic assistance in developing their product roadmaps and go-to-market strategies while providing access to our global network of manufacturing and distribution contacts that have a vested interest in growing this category around the world.
Q: What were the main factors that triggered your passion for the foodtech space and especially for the clean-alternative foods market?
The global food chain is broken and its impact is being felt around the world by humans, animals and the environment. Alternatives to animal proteins provide a path forward to correct some of these issues. They provide consumers with products they enjoy without sacrifice in a manner that is good for all living beings and for the planet.
Q: What are the biggest challenges that plant-based and alternative protein startups face?
Multiple challenges are faced by these companies depending on where they stand; initial challenges revolve around product development and branding. These are followed by their go-to-market strategy which includes initial production runs and customer acceptance. Lastly, companies that have initial traction need to evaluate how they will scale and ensure they have the necessary resources and can scale manufacturing while maintaining quality and efficiency.
Q: How do you support foodtech startups at New Crop Capital?
My support is based on the needs of the company and the founders. Rather than expecting them to be experts in all areas of their companies, we get to know the founders, understand their strengths and provide assistance in the areas where they are less experienced, all the while helping them expand their knowledge of the industry and learning best practices to run a successful business.
Q: In your opinion, what makes a startup seed investment ready?
Investment ready startups are those who have evaluated an opportunity in the market, identified the key characteristics needed to satisfy that demand and developed a cohesive roadmap to execute on.
Q: Any Final words of wisdom? Is there any golden tip you would like to give to CEOs of young startups?
Food companies scale over longer periods of time than other industries. Entrepreneurs excited about this space should have a clear understanding of the time horizons for this space and set their expectations accordingly.