Food Is Hot: Huge Business Opportunities While Saving The Climate

Plant-based foods, innovative production technology, and functional ingredients made the 2018 European Food Venture Forum a peek into how we save both our climate and our health. But it also highlighted that investor presentations are sometimes a challenge to product-focused founders.

We need something to eat. All the basic stuff in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs set the overall agenda for TechTour’s 2018 European Food Venture Forum held in Aarhus, Denmark, on September 5 and 6, where approximately 30 startups met 80+ investors, industry experts and advisors. Myself in the latter category.

The event took place at the Ernst & Young office and maybe the stunning 360°view of the city of Aarhus in bright sunshine increased optimism among the investors.

I could tell from the activity in the large canteen with 20 meeting points for 1-1 meetings that a lot of new connections were made, and several startups told me about interest from multiple investors. Plus, the interest from the press has definitely increased since last year. Foodtech is getting hot!

Lab meat vs plant-based food?

Entrepreneurs have vast blue oceans to conquer in the years ahead – and may help save the planet sailing them.

On Wednesday, September 5, keynote speaker Jakob Jønck painted the gloomy picture of today’s climate crisis. In 200 years humanity may have destroyed the livable world. But plant-based foods can help reduce CO2 emissions from the meat industry.

The numbers show that plant-based eating is growing dramatically in both Europe and the US. The climate crisis means business opportunities just as huge as what the internet meant to retail,” Jakob Jønck said.

Jønck is a co-founder of Endomondo and currently founder and CEO of Simple Feast.

Personally, Jakob Jønck believes in plant-based food – not in artificial meat grown in labs:

“Why would anyone eat that?” he asks rhetorically. Simple Feast has chosen the 100% veggie path.

Michal Drayman from JVP, a global venture fond, held a speech prior to all the startup presentations Thursday, Septmember 6, and she has another view on the market size for lab meat:

We invest in food that tastes and feels like what we eat today – but healthier and produced in less polluting ways. We want to eat the same cakes as we do today but without the negative effects.

She specifically mentioned lab produced meat as an example. I guess there’s room for both – why not satisfy both conservative and progressive tastes? The market wins anyway.

So, if you have a food invention, how do you get the attention of investors like Michal Drayman?

Presenting to investors is not (only) a product presentation

What I really like about the TechTour events is the fact that the startups are screened prior to the event to ensure that they’re fit for meeting investors. And then they can participate in a “venture academy” the day before their presentation to prepare them for the event.

Some presenters did great, some had room for improvement to nail the investor aspects. Here’s how you can improve your pitch.

Talk less about the product and more about the business. You could hear from the feedback and questions from the panels, that heavy product focus in the presentation leaves way too many open questions. The typical presenter is a product-oriented person – he or she invented the product and knows every detail of how it works and all the benefits to the clients. Good for sales pitches.

But an investor presentation is different. It’s about convincing your audience why this is a good business to invest in and in that context the product itself simply has to solve an important problem – and work. In rough terms, that is!

When you present to investors focus on your business model, total addressable market, product-market-fit, competition, marketing, sales, distribution – and especially how you and your team are fit to manage all that and succeed.

Then you can win the investor’s attention and eventually you will get more time to explain your product in detail – if needed.

Rehearse explaining what problem your product solves and how in less than 60 seconds. (30 is good too!) Then spend the remaining 7 minutes (if you have 8 in total) on the investor’s decision criteria:

What makes your company a great investment?

Peter Votkjaer Joergensen, a partner in Maersk Growth, talks to a startup during the 1-1 meetings.

Innovations provide hope for our future

I’ve never seen so many interesting early-stage products gathered in one place and it’s just a tiny fragment of what’s going on out there.

So I’m with Arnold and Elon, Jønck and Drayman:

Technology and innovation have the potential to improve our climate a lot. The market requests solutions and wants to pay for it. And the investors are increasingly looking for those solutions because of the vast business opportunities.

So keep up the good work, invent new solutions, find your market and go for it. Ohm and don’t forget to check out the 8 winners of Best Presenter Awards at the EFVF 2018: Amai Proteins, Cellugy, Circular Food Technology, Efos, Flying SpArk, Plant Jammer, Profound Actives Europe, and

The eight winning startups. Holding the microphone is Saskia Wurm, a nutritionist from Plant Jammer.

About the Author

Jakob Kemp Hessellund, partner in Kemp & Kjær, standing at the terrace outside the canteen at the 15th floor of the Ernst & Young building in Aarhus.