Press Release – ANN ARBOR, Mich.— The Social Venture Fund, the nation’s first student-led impact investing fund, based in the Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, today announced that it has invested in Six Foods, an insect-based food company headquartered in San Francisco. Six Foods will be using the investment to hire a director of sales and expand their advocacy training program, which teaches students who are passionate about food systems and sustainability how to speak to the broader community about the current food system and create events to engage more people in solutions for food sustainability.
When the average American thinks of protein, they often think of meat—but that’s not necessarily the case for nearly two billion people around the world who include insects in their diet. In addition to being nutritious, insects are more sustainable: it takes about a gallon of water to produce one pound of insect protein, as compared to two thousand gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. Founded in 2013 by three Harvard graduates, Six Foods’ goal is to introduce insects into the average Western diet. Its main product, Chirp Chips, have as much protein as an egg white and 20 percent of the total daily value of vitamin B12 per 1 oz serving, in addition to providing a more sustainable source of nutrition.
“If there will be a move toward insect-based proteins, this is the company that will do it,” said Sahar Omrani, MBA ’18, director of investments at the Social Venture Fund.
Founded in 2009, the Social Venture Fund is managed by a team of nearly 40 MBA and BBA students who source and manage due diligence for deals for innovative, for-profit companies that place social and environmental impact at the heart of their business models.
“Impact means something different to everyone, depending on your industry—but it’s definitely becoming a more common part of the conversation,” Omrani said. “Even traditional investment funds are figuring out how to measure both impact and positive returns. We’re seeing our understanding of the impact investment landscape evolving. Working on the Social Venture Fund has given us a front-row seat to that, as well as equipping us with some of the best learning experiences of our careers.”
“The students who run the Social Venture Fund apply the best of their knowledge and skills to funding companies that are tackling some of the biggest problems that we as a society face—while also advancing the field of impact investing as a whole,” said Gautam Kaul, the Social Venture Fund’s faculty director. “Often, our due diligence teams evaluate companies that can make an impact in a local community or address a more niche problem. In this deal, the fund has done an excellent job in identifying a company that has the potential to take over an entire market and fundamentally change the way we think about food sustainability.”
Six Foods, which has won funding from Mark Cuban on Shark Tank and whose co-founders Rose Wang and Laura D’Asaro have been named to the Forbes 30 Under 30, had both the vision of creating impact through a sustainable food ecosystem, and the early traction needed to make that vision a reality.
“As a carnivore, I didn’t realize the impact eating has on the environment,” said Luke Sawitsky, MBA/MS ’18, who led the due diligence process on the Six Foods investment. “We were impressed with how Six Foods saw themselves fitting into the food of the future, and the depth of thought in their short-term and long-term strategies. In the course of evaluating this deal, we gained every confidence that Six Foods will create and own their category.”
In addition to seed money, the investment will provide Six Foods with a member of the Social Venture Fund to act as a board observer, as well as a team available for consulting projects that would benefit the business.
“Working with the Social Venture Fund has been a rewarding and seamless experience,” said Rose Wang, co-founder and CEO, Six Foods. “We feel so lucky to have a partnership with such passionate, mission-driven, hardworking, communicative and talented individuals. As we explore larger strategy questions of where the industry is headed and building out advocacy programs, we’ll be working closely with the Social Venture Fund team to identify the right directions for us to build.”
For more information about Six Foods, visit www.chirpschips.com. For more information about Six Foods’s advocacy training program, email email@example.com. For more information about the Social Venture Fund, visit www.umsocialventure.com.
About the Social Venture Fund
The Social Venture Fund is a leader in university-based impact investing, with several active investments. The Fund’s previous investments include Conversa Health, Powerhouse Dynamics, LearnZillion, Mytonomy, Loveland Technologies and Jack and Jake’s. To learn more, visit www.umsocialventure.com.
About the Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies
The Institute and its Center for Venture Capital and Private Equity Finance bring together an impactful combination of deep-seated knowledge, enriching experiences and strategic opportunities from the front lines of entrepreneurship and alternative investment. Students’ learning experiences are further enhanced through internships, entrepreneurial clubs, business competitions and campus-wide events that foster valuable networking and engage the business community. The School’s five student-led investment funds, with $8.5M under management, immerse students in the entrepreneurial business sourcing, assessment and investment process. Founding Zell Lurie advisory board members include Samuel Zell, chairman of Equity Group Investments, and Eugene Applebaum, founder of Arbor Drugs Inc. For more information, visit the Institute’s website at www.zli.bus.umich.edu.
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