Entrepreneurship and alternative proteins
Starting a business can be challenging, and GFI is here to help. Our resources support each step of planning, launching, and growing an alternative protein startup.
Good food startup manual
Get our step-by-step guide to starting and growing an alternative protein company.
Understand the industry
Building industry expertise is crucial to succeeding in the alternative protein sector. GFI’s suite of reports and tools will help you get up to speed, fast. Start by reading our three flagship State of the Industry reports for plant-based, cultivated, and fermentation-derived meat, eggs, and dairy.
Explore our company database
GFI’s company database tracks emerging and established companies in alternative proteins. It provides information on each company’s focus, location, year founded, founders, and websites. The company database can help with competitive landscape analysis and identification of collaborators or customers. It can also increase your company’s discoverability.
If you would like to add or update your company’s information in the database, please fill out this form.
See retail and foodservice sales data
Explore our market overview of U.S. retail sales data for plant-based meat, egg, and dairy products, including size, growth, and purchase dynamics. To understand the retail landscape, you can review our Good Food Retail Report which ranks the top retailers in the U.S. on their plant-based product assortment, merchandising, and marketing strategies.
The Good Food Restaurant Scorecard ranks the top 100 U.S. restaurants on their plant-based menu items and marketing. View GFI’s summary of NPD market data on plant-based foodservice growth in the United States, and check out our plant-based foodservice market overview webinar for a deeper look at foodservice data.
Understand the science
Alternative proteins exist because of groundbreaking scientific innovation. Dive into the science to learn exactly how innovators are harnessing the power of plants, animal cell cultivation, and microbes to create the next generation of protein products.
If you want to conduct groundbreaking R&D (and are willing to share your findings), GFI has three grant mechanisms in place for open-access scientific alt protein research. The grants vary from $50,000 to $250,000 across our yearly Competitive Research Grant Program, special White Space grants RFPs, and nimble exploratory grants.
You can also join the 4,000+ people who have signed up for GFI’s free massive open online course (MOOC), an introduction into the science of making meat from plants and animal cells.
Find your white space opportunity
Maybe you know you want to start an alternative protein company but don’t know precisely which product or service to provide. Maybe you’re looking to launch an additional product line, or even pivot your company.
To get you started, GFI has identified key challenges and opportunities in plant-based, fermentation-enabled and cultivated meat, eggs, and dairy as well as several opportunities specific to seafood.
Reading industry white papers, like our reports on plant-based egg alternatives and production methods for cultivated meat, can also increase your understanding of the field and help uncover potential white spaces.
Accelerating Solutions for Alternative Proteins Initiative
Based on surveys and interviews with dozens of scientists, business leaders, investors, and other experts, GFI is now offering the alternative protein industry’s most comprehensive analysis of opportunities and challenges, including a list of innovation priorities and a continuously-updated database of commercial opportunities, research ideas, and ecosystem-level solutions for a wide variety of stakeholders.
Discover opportunities in alternative seafood
Seafood is an underserved and high-potential market segment. GFI’s Sustainable Seafood Initiative is our hub for plant-based and cultivated seafood:
- Start with our action paper: An Ocean of Opportunity.
- Dive into the commercial landscape and investment data by reading GFI’s first State of the Industry: Alternative seafood report.
- Visit our Phylogenetic Index of Seafood CharactEriStics (PISCES) dashboard of data on different seafood species to help you identify the right opportunity.
- Shop our collaborative cell line repositories for cultivated meat cells.
- View our webinar: Opportunities in alternative seafood.
We offer resources to help companies navigate the complexities of fundraising. We help consider which types of funding to pursue, whether to participate in an accelerator or incubator and how to pursue venture capital. Dive deep into the fundamentals of fundraising in our good food startup manual (with additional versions tailored for Israel, Singapore, and Hong Kong). Check out our additional resources below to learn more about pitching and finding investors, incubators, and partners to accelerate bringing your product to market and scaling up.
If you are also an investor or know investors interested in alternative proteins, please visit our investor resources page.
Pitch deck checklist and common feedback
Crafting a pitch deck is both art and science, and is vital to raising funds and shaping the narrative for your company. Our pitch deck review form offers a checklist to ensure your deck is what investors are looking for. We recommend you work through this exercise and also ask an advisor to do so. If you’d like GFI to review your pitch deck please fill out our fundraising support form.
Based on our previous evaluation of pitch decks for alternative protein companies, our recommendations include:
Show (or build) evidence of customer traction, market pull, and/or product-market fit.
Even in pre-R&D, you can provide evidence of consumer demand for your product through a variety of creative ways like product crowdfunding pre-sales, focus groups, surveys, and letters of intent from future customers.
Refine your go-to-market strategy.
Whether launching direct-to-consumer, B2B, or in foodservice, how will your strategy impact your product formulations, marketing plan, company culture, and fundraising ability?
Identify your value proposition and what makes it defensible.
Investors want to see that you’re innovating in product development rather than simply pursuing a market niche in the short term. What is your advantage when there are ten companies pursuing the same market?
Calculate or project your unit economics.
The venture capital model is driven by exceptional returns. You’ll need to be highly profitable when you are at scale. Even when it requires assumptions, knowing your unit economics is critical to demonstrating feasibility.
Tell a compelling story.
If you are mission-driven, absolutely lead with that, but don’t rely on the problems inherent to animal agriculture to carry your pitch. Investors want more. Focus on what makes your company unique and what makes you well-positioned to succeed.
Request access to the GFI investor directory
GFI’s investor directory contains more than 200 investors who have opted in to sharing their information with fundraising alt protein startups. The directory has a variety of angel and institutional investors and can be filtered by typical investment round, typical check size, types of companies most interested in, and location. This resource is only available to alternative protein companies that are actively fundraising — you’ll need to submit a pitch deck for approval. To access, fill out our fundraising support form and we will follow up.
Explore our map of incubators and accelerators
Joining an incubator or accelerator like Big Idea Ventures, Brinc, Food-X, IndieBio, ProVeg, or Y Combinator can be an excellent way to refine your business, build networks, and raise funds. Check out our map of incubators and accelerator programs relevant to alternative proteins. We recommend exploring the map to see if there are any programs that might be a good fit.
Apply to GlassWall Syndicate
GlassWall Syndicate is a third-party non-profit organization consisting of mission-driven accredited investors devoted to removing animals from supply chains. We highly recommend GlassWall Syndicate to fundraising early stage alternative protein companies. Learn more and apply.
Let investors find you through the GFI fundraising database
Join GFI’s fundraising database to get your company in front of interested investors. First list your startup in GFI’s company database and then add your fundraise details to the fundraising database. You can add your fundraise details at any time.
Build and scale your company
Access the tools and resources you need to build your company and produce your alternative protein products.
Consult with industry experts
Looking for a little help with technical and scientific, business and strategic, and/or regulatory and food safety topics? Download our list of industry experts who have indicated that their knowledge of one or more segments of the alternative proteins industry makes them well-positioned to serve as consultants across these areas.
Finding the right talent is critical to growing your company. Add alt protein jobs and internships to our jobs board to maximize visibility for new roles at your organization. And request access to GFI’s talent database. This is the go-to resource for employers and founders in the alternative protein space seeking mission-aligned talent, including employees, contractors, advisors, and more. This database contains resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and contact information for professionals, scientists, and students who want to be a part of the future of food.
Manufacture your product
GFI’s plant-based meat manufacturing guide provides an introduction to the process of extrusion. And our plant protein primer compares various plant proteins on cost, allergenicity, sustainability, and other factors.
If you are not building your own production facilities, working with co-manufacturers will be essential. We have a non-exhaustive directory of co-manufacturers, co-packers, private labelers, and consultants to help with your search. When evaluating prospective co-manufacturers, feel free to consult GFI’s co-manufacturer evaluation checklist.
GFI has a dedicated webpage with other resources for food manufacturers, like our white paper on formulating with animal-free ingredients.
Interested in mentorship?
Our GFI Mentor Program enables entrepreneurs and startups to have 1:1 mentoring sessions with subject matter experts across the alternative protein ecosystem.
Get fundraising support
GFI offers support to alternative protein startups that are currently fundraising:
1) Pitch deck review: We review and provide feedback to help you strengthen your pitch deck.
2) Access to the GFI investor directory: Contact individual investors directly using our database of 200+ investors who have expressed interest in funding alternative protein companies.
If you’re interested in taking advantage of our investor directory or pitch deck review, please fill out the form.
Please note: We can only share the investor directory with alternative protein startups that are currently fundraising or have previously closed a successful round.
Join the GFIdeas global community of 2,000+ entrepreneurs, scientists, investors, and subject matter experts. Discuss projects on the members-only Slack community, attend monthly seminars, and use the community directory to find co-founders, investors, and other collaborators.
More entrepreneur resources
This guide lays out the steps involved in starting an alternative protein company, from securing funding and developing your product to scaling up and expanding distribution.
Learn from and network with experts in alternative protein. GFIdeas is a community for entrepreneurs, scientists, students, and subject matter experts.
State of the Industry Report: Plant-Based Meat, Eggs, and Dairy
This analysis of the U.S. plant-based meat, egg, and dairy market covers sales data, investment analytics, consumer insights, and more.
State of the Industry Report: Cultivated Meat
This global analysis of the cultivated meat industry covers investments, consumer insights, and scientific progress in this growing market sector.
Manufacturing & production
Find support with product development, market and consumer research, and distribution strategy.
Map of accelerators and incubators
Discover accelerators and incubators around the world that can provide early-stage resources for alternative protein entrepreneurs.
Company and Fundraising Database
Explore the landscape of plant-based, cultivated, and fermentation companies including consumer brands, manufacturers, and ingredients companies.
State of the Industry Report: Fermentation
This analysis of fermentation for alternative protein production covers science, entrepreneurship, policy, and industry investments.
GFIdeas panel gives insights for alternative protein startups during Covid-19 economic crisis
Covid-19 has upended the global economy, leaving many entrepreneurs and startups struggling to adapt to the rapidly evolving environment. That’s why GFI recently hosted a virtual panel discussion to lend…
Innovation opportunities for startups
We’ve worked to identify specific commercial white spaces that offer clear business opportunities for startups in the industry. View our full Solutions Database for further ideas.
3D microenvironments for cell expansion
Proliferation and high-density cell growth are fundamentally important to scaling cultivated meat production. Recent demonstrations of stem cell expansion in 3D microenvironments such as encapsulated spheres or tubules can generate…
Fat and moisture encapsulation for alternative protein products
Fat and moisture retention are critical to the organoleptic properties of meat and must be perfected across all alternative protein platforms. Solutions for encapsulating fat and moisture are necessary to…
Establishing intellectual property pooling frameworks
Intellectual property pools and patent pledges can help member companies contribute to a suite of patents that can be licensed within the pool.
Next-generation plant-based turkey products
There has been little in the way of publicly-announced R&D or commercial efforts to develop the next generation of tasty and affordable plant-based turkey products. There is room for innovation…