Ryan Grant Little is an angel investor focusing strongly on Climate Tech and Sustainability, with 27 investments in the alternative protein space.
Ryan is also the host of Another ClimateTech Podcast, featuring Interviews with people fighting climate change through entrepreneurship, investment, academia, and more.
This insightful interview delves into Ryan Grant Little's unique perspective on angel investing, particularly in climate tech and sustainability, around the future of food and protein-oriented solutions.
“I've been an impact entrepreneur for most of my life. As a teenager, I founded CanadaHelps, a public foundation and donation platform in Canada."
Over the years, Ryan's commitment to impact continued as he delved into renewable energy and later shifted his attention to supporting social entrepreneurs. Drawing from his extensive experience in bridging the gap between impactful companies and potential investors, Ryan transitioned into the role of an impact investor himself.
"With my background as a founder, I positioned myself as an angel investor, rapidly connecting with the values-driven alternative proteins sector globally.“
“Animal welfare became a core value for me as a person that I could turn into a core value as an investor. I saw a booming food tech sector, particularly alternative proteins, offering a chance to reshape the food system, align with climate goals, and eliminate animals from the supply chain.”
As a plant-based diet and big animal lover, Ryan struggles with what to feed his dog and cat, as they love meat and cats are carnivores by nature. It’s one of the reasons why he decided to invest in BioCraft as soon as their paths crossed.
BioCraft Pet Nutrition, founded in 2016, is a biotech company developing cultured meat for the growing pet food market. This company produces meat from the cells of rabbits (for dogs) and mice (for cats) - real meat, their ancestral diets.
“BioCraft is, for me personally, my most important investment as a pet lover. Their CEO, Shannon Falconer, is a great combination of Stanford Postdoc and the most values-driven founder I've ever met.
I have 27 investments and actively support them through their growth stages. I can say I am taking a break from new deals. I will start investing again once some of these companies have an exit.”
Ryan embarked on his investment journey independently, seeking opportunities alone. However, he has since shifted his approach, relying on collective intelligence.
“Initially, I started by myself, trying to find these opportunities. Today, I rely a lot on hive wisdom.
I almost exclusively invest through referrals from my network - people in my angel networks and my syndicates who I know well and know how they think and their track records. I join them on deals. It’s important for me since I'm only one person and don't have a VC firm behind me.”
Having a strong network enables Ryan to efficiently manage his investments and leverage the expertise of like-minded individuals.
“There are specific networks like a group called Food_Hack, which is like an information platform and investor syndicate, a deal flow platform all in one.“
The Food Tech industry has a diverse and impressive landscape worldwide.
The innovation landscape in North America, particularly in the US and Canada, continues to thrive. While, on the other hand, Europe boasts impressive startups in the alternative protein sector, it's hindered by lagging policymakers who risk losing out to more progressive regions like Asia and North America.
“I anticipate a monumental shift in the next five to ten years.
We're on the brink of a revolution encompassing food production, growth methods, and how we perceive and interact with food. This transformation holds the potential to mitigate geopolitical risks linked to food, as evident in current scenarios where it's wielded as a weapon.
Dividing land from food production can strengthen supply chain security and reduce political interference.”
Ryan is also advocating that we’re in a position to improve and change what we’ve been doing wrong in the past, such as the devastation caused by deforestation or how we support the food production system.
“This shift towards a more human and environmentally conscious food system is deeply exciting. One remarkable example is the ongoing emergence of cellular agriculture, where we can produce meat without traditional livestock farming.
Cultivating alternative proteins from cells can revolutionize our approach to protein consumption, simultaneously addressing environmental and animal welfare issues."
In Ryan's perspective, the evolution of alternative proteins directly impacts the food industry's future.
“While plant-based alternatives like Beyond Burger and Impossible Burger are familiar, the significance of precision fermentation often goes unnoticed by the public, despite its immense importance.”
The industry's future won't be a competition between these categories. Instead, Ryan thinks the solution will be a fusion of all three.
“This fusion will result in a new generation of healthier food products, customizable to individual preferences. These advancements enhance food safety, as the controlled and sterile production environments eliminate the health risks associated with traditional slaughterhouses.
With the potential for more personalized nutritional profiles and improved cleanliness, the food industry is undergoing a transformative era that redefines how we produce and consume food.”
In the rapidly evolving landscape of early-stage investments, there have been significant shifts in funding structures and strategies. It brought more flexibility and better transparency to the cap table.
“Most deals at this very early stage start as SAFE notes and then get converted into equity at the first price round, usually the seed or series A.
I'm playing in the pre-seed phase, where there's good visibility at the cap table. There's a push towards having employee ownership and generous ESOP programs.”
Additionally, a significant change has emerged with the inclusion of small angel investors rolled up into a single Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) on the cap table.
The process of educating founders about equity concepts and industry standards has a great impact on how they adopt specific tactics.
I have taken the initiative to introduce founders to concepts such as syndicate deals and SPVs. While many founders might not be aware of these innovative approaches initially, they often embrace the idea once introduced.
"I've led some of these syndicate deals, like these roll-up deals. It's generally been me teaching the entrepreneurs about it, and once they learn about it, they love the idea. But it's something that only some founders know about.
I would love to see it included as a topic for founders in more accelerators and startup programs. I don't expect them to know it, but I would like them to know it."
For founders seeking early-stage investments, establishing connections with reputable angels can play a massive role. Experienced investors offer valuable guidance and play a pivotal role in introducing startups to larger financing opportunities.
"I believe in getting well-connected investors with good reputations involved early.
Engaging with networks of investors, like those in specific industry groups or accelerators, can help founders tap into valuable expertise and make strategic connections that could shape the trajectory of their startups.”
Connect with Ryan:
SeedBlink S.A. is registered in the Register of the Romanian Financial Supervisory Authority (ASF), under number PJR28FSFPR/400001, as of 03.11.2022 with an EU passport as per European Securities and Market Authority (ESMA) register of crowdfunding services providers.