Collaboration fuels the alt protein ecosystem
In the spring of 2022, GFI issued a call for applicants to participate in a six-month pilot for a mentor program. We expected to hear from a handful of generous volunteers willing to give their time and expertise to help emerging alternative protein companies.
Instead, more than 200 applications poured in from around the world, each one from a talented subject matter expert eager to share their knowledge. It was a resounding and uplifting testament to our community’s passion for helping entrepreneurs.
Piloting the program
To ensure the first cohort would be small enough for a pilot but large enough to provide depth across the alternative protein value chain, we limited the pilot to 24 mentors. It was a daunting task given the influx of highly qualified applicants.
We considered professional expertise and achievements, motivation, commitment, and mission alignment. We then narrowed the list to include mentors who could support the most urgent and frequent areas of need. The result is a powerhouse team of experts able to provide guidance and support across all pillars of alternative proteins.
Startups and entrepreneurs can now turn to the GFI Mentor Program for help navigating a broad array of challenges, including but not limited to:
- Determining go-to-market strategy
- Pitching and Presenting
- Assessing product-market fit
- Identifying capacity
- Building a team
- Protecting IP
- Scaling technology
- Forming strategic partnerships
Rather than assigning mentors to a limited number of predetermined startups and entrepreneurs, we invite mentees to request mentorship on an ad hoc basis via our website. This approach enables our mentors to offer support to any alternative protein company as needed. Many mentees choose to speak with multiple mentors to address the wide variety of issues that arise during the launch and scale of a company.
How it’s going
In November, every single member of the initial cohort opted to continue post-pilot in their roles as GFI mentors. We’re excited to now offer a permanent GFI Mentor Program to meet the evolving needs of the alternative protein startup community.
Join our growing community
As a mentor
We have made 234 mentor/mentee introductions for 67 startups and founders so far. Looking to the future of the program, we will expand the team to offer even more expertise across emerging areas of need. We look forward to adding a few more mentors from both inside and outside of the alternative protein sector.
Although we will not be issuing a call for applicants this year, we welcome interest from mentors who can bring expertise not currently covered by the program. For instance, many startups need regulatory guidance and/or co-manufacturing support, so we have brought on mentors who can advise on those topics. We are also looking for more scientists with in-depth knowledge of cultivated and fermentation-derived proteins to round out the technical expertise of the program.
If you are interested in learning more about becoming a mentor, contact GFI’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Manager, Laine Clark, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a mentee
If your startup is working on a product or enabling technology for alternative proteins, we encourage you to take advantage of the critical knowledge our mentors can share. Not only do the mentors draw on specific experience, but they also bring best practices, lessons learned, and significant networks. To schedule a 1:1 meeting, simply fill out our session request form.
Our GFI Mentor Program enables entrepreneurs and startups to have 1:1 mentoring sessions with subject matter experts across the alternative protein ecosystem.