Chicago VC envisions a plant-based burger future

By December 19, 2017

Chicago-based VC Cleveland Avenue, a venture firm founded by former McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson, sees potential in Beyond Meat, an L.A.-based food startup that makes burgers made entirely from plants.

Beyond Meat announced earlier this month that it has raised $55 million in funding thanks to Cleveland Avenue. This recent announcement adds to a long list of achievements for the food based startup. For example, it previously raised $90 million in VC funding, attracting a plethora of notable investors, including Bill Gates, Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams, and actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Thomas Middleditch.

“We see Beyond Meat as a strategic and compelling consumer-focused investment,” Thompson said according to Business Wire. “Customer response to Beyond Meat’s great-tasting products has driven its growth, and we’re excited about our investment as the brand continues to innovate for the future.”

As populations rise and water becomes scarce, food prices are expected to double and meat is expected to become scarce. Therefore, many startups are exploring new methods to produce more sustainable food.

While this startup’s ambition is undoubtedly impressive, the Midwest also holds a number of innovative startups looking to shake up the food industry in numerous ways.

One of which is ClusterTruck, a new on-demand food delivery startup that hopes to dramatically change the industry. While many restaurants partner with third-party companies to provide a delivery service, ClusterTruck aims to provide the entire service, cutting out delivery giants like UberEats and GrubHub.  

The ambitious young startup makes a whopping 160 items, ranging from Pad Thai to pizza, and employs its own delivery team. Deliveries are free and are made within 21 minutes, claims the Founder and CEO, Chris Baggott, according to Axios.

Matt Howard

Matt Howard

Moreover, Wisconsin based EatStreet co-founders, Matt Howard and Alex Wyler, recently featured in  Forbes’ prestigious 2018 30 Under 30, thanks to their innovative food delivery startup.

“It’s amazing to be recognized on this list with other young people who are improving and changing the world,” said Howard, CEO of EatStreet. “This recognition is a big deal for us, but we hope it goes beyond that by bringing more attention to our Midwest tech community, which is vibrant and full of talent.”

While this Chicago based VC firm might have their sights set on promising endeavors in California, there are still plenty of startups working to change and disrupt the food industry here in the Midwest.

Thanks to the increasing attention drawn to the midwest’s startup scene, a growing number of startups are becoming food industry success stories such as SkinnyPop, which went public in 2015 and is currently valued at $1.35 billion. In light of these rising startups, more VCs based in the Midwest could benefit from exploring the opportunities closer to home, before looking to California.