Lisa Feria, the vegan CEO of the mission-driven venture capital firm Stray Dog Capital, wants to make plant-based meat that is delicious and affordable for all.
The Puerto Rico native was recently featured by OZY, where she discussed her upbringing, what led her to go vegan, and how that led her to become the head of a venture capital firm that invests solely in plant-based products challenging animal products.
Feria graduated with a B.S. in chemical engineering and an MBA from the University of Chicago and found herself working in food management in the Midwest for companies like General Mills and Procter & Gamble. But after Feria came across a video from animal rights organization PETA called “Meet Your Meat,” she eventually adopted a vegan diet.
In 2015, when Stray Dog Capital posted a job listing for a CEO based in the Midwest, Feria jumped at the chance. “You have to be in the community to help people think differently,” she said in reference to living in the Midwest. “We are in an agricultural-focused state, and this is the best place for us.”
“We’re in a massive health crisis, and the emergence of the plant-based movement is a reasonable and alternative way to eat,” Feria said.
However, when it comes to finding investments, Feria notes that taste and price are both the keys to making plant-based meat successful: “As it relates to taste, as it relates to price, we’ve got to get to a point where these alternative products or these products are a no-brainer. They’re better for the environment, they taste amazing, they’re the right price. Up until we get to that point, then it’s really difficult to be completely successful,” she told Food Business News last month.
“To convince Californians to try a new veggie burger is easy, but to convince Kansas I have to bring out the big guns,” Feria said. With investments in Beyond Meat, Good Seed Burger, Memphis Meats, Meta Burger, Sunfed Meats, and SuperMeat, which recently secured $3 million to produce slaughter-free meat, Feria is making good on her strategy of finding plant-based meat that will appeal to the majority of consumers. Feria was also a member of the “Vegan Mafia,” a group of investors that are focused on supporting food start-ups that make plant-based alternatives.
“If I die 10 years from now and I’ve helped bring plant-based meat to every supermarket, I will die with a smile on my face,” Feria concluded.
According to a recent report by research firm Markets and Markets, the plant-based meat market is set to reach $4.63 billion this year and grow to $6.43 billion by 2023 with a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 6.8 percent per year. The meat industry has already taken notice of the shift in consumer interests. One poultry industry publication expressed its fear that “fake meat could soon take over the world” while the beef industry admitted to being worried about investors taking an interest in plant-based meat.
Image source: Stray Dog Capital