Daring Food’s recent campaign with celebrity investors, image courtesy of Ellen Von Unwerth
The investor landscape in alternative protein startups is continuously broadening with leading Venture Capital and Institutional investors betting on this industry. These seasoned investors are being joined by a new category of investor, and one that indicates broadening popularity in a mainstream space; the celebrity investor.
While it is not unheard of for high net-worth celebrities to invest in emerging categories, the number of these investors participating in alternative protein deals has been increasing exponentially in recent years.
Participation from this kind of investor has been seen in some of the largest alternative protein companies, as well as emerging startups. Consider Beyond Meat which boasts high profile individuals including Leonardo DiCaprio, Bill Gates, Snoop Dogg and DeAndre Hopkins on its list of investors. Or Daring Foods, a newer startup and SDC portfolio company, which has received funding from Drake, Steve Aoki, Naomi Osaka, and Cam Newton.
This kind of funding offers more than a cash injection for founders. The ability to partner with these celebrities who are recognizable to a broad mainstream audience can attract new customers, build confidence in products, and spark interest in a brand’s mission and value-add.
Both Beyond Meat and Daring Foods have realized this opportunity and partnered with their celebrity stakeholders to launch viral marketing campaigns. Beyond Meat partnered with investor and honorary “Chief Taste Consultant” Kim Kardashian in a recent video ad campaign. While Daring Foods partnered with Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker in an exclusive post-elopement photoshoot featuring the company’s alternative protein products.
These campaigns can be distributed on mediums outside of traditional investor channels, and have a broad market appeal. As well as offering startups a chance to present a more light-hearted and personality driven image of their values, they are also a method to build brand credibility through partnering with stars that consumers look up to – be it an athlete, an actor, a business personality or an influencer.
The growing frequency of celebrity investments in alternative protein companies represent a growing interest in these products from consumers, and within mainstream culture. These kinds of investors can offer significant marketing exposure for brands and drive interest in products through their broad reach and large following, representing an opportunity for startups seeking a broader audience.