The significant approval from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) last week for cell-cultivated meat for American consumers has ignited momentum within the sustainable protein industry. Leveraging this momentum, Joyful Ventures is positioned to lead the way in propelling the sector towards a more sustainable and regenerative future.
Guided by the expertise of partners Milo Runkle, Jennifer Stojkovic, and Blaine Vess, Joyful Ventures boasts a remarkable portfolio of experience spanning the alternative protein landscape, entrepreneurship, and investment strategies. The fund will prioritize early-stage startups driving innovation across various dimensions of sustainable and regenerative protein solutions, including plant-based products, precision fermentation, mycoproteins, molecular agriculture, and cultivated technologies, with a particular emphasis on business-to-business (B2B) models.
Collectively, Runkle, Stojkovic, and Vess bring forth over four decades of industry insight and expertise. Runkle, a luminary in the sector, is renowned for his roles as the founder of Mercy For Animals and co-founder of New Crop Capital and The Good Food Institute, dedicated to driving reform within the food system. Stojkovic, the visionary founder of Vegan Women Summit and an accomplished author, serves as an advisor and board member to some of the most prominent plant-based brands in the industry. Vess, an accomplished entrepreneur and investor with a portfolio spanning over 50 startups, is celebrated for his history of successful exits.
“The landscape is teeming with transformative sustainable protein enterprises, led by visionary founders who grapple with substantial challenges during their early stages,” remarks Vess, highlighting the firm’s commitment to driving impactful change.
Joyful Ventures has already made strategic investments in two innovative startups. San Francisco-based Orbillion Bio stands out with its proprietary comprehensive approach to cultivated meat, while Toronto’s New School Foods employs an ingenious muscle fiber and scaffolding platform to pioneer plant-based seafood alternatives, challenging conventional notions of fish consumption.
Runkle encapsulates the firm’s ethos, asserting, “We are not merely investors in companies; rather, we act as catalysts for global transformation. Our pride lies in championing entrepreneurs who are at the forefront of a future where nourishing, sustainable food is universally accessible.”
The team at Joyful Ventures resonates with a compelling proposition in the context of the climate crisis. A recent study by the Boston Consulting Group underscores that investments in plant-based protein yield an impact eleven times greater than electric vehicles (EVs), four times greater than green building initiatives, and three times greater than efforts to decarbonize cement production.
Stojkovic emphasizes the overarching importance of their mission, noting, “Rather than seeking to mitigate the environmental repercussions of carbon, methane, and nitrogen emissions after the fact, our focus is on prevention through dietary transformation. If your aim is to invest in tangible and scalable climate solutions, few avenues compare to the potency of food.”