“An investor should be vetted for a strong relationship fit”

Plantible Foods, founded by Tony Martens and Maurits van de Ven, is tackling the plant-based protein market with their novel use of the aquatic plant lemna, which they use to create a protein that has the same functional properties as egg white. The team raised their $4.6M Seed round in May co-led by Vectr Ventures and Lerer Hippeau. 🌱

Prospective founders continually ask us for references on our investors. As founders who have raised capital from many, we can tell you that choosing an investor is the difference between having a teammate that brings everyone up or a teammate that brings everyone down. It matters. A lot.

So in the spirit of helping more entrepreneurs, we are putting our spoken testimonial into written, published thoughts. If it works out for Unshackled to become your partner, we hope this helps tell one founder’s perspective of what you can expect.

Venture capital can at times feel like it is trapped within its own narrative of power and equity. It’s therefore unsurprising that fundraising has been compared to a ‘dance’ between founder and VC: founders notoriously vy for investor dollars while VCs act as gatekeepers to that capital. However, in all of this power struggle, founders can lose sight of an important part of early business building: an investor becomes a partner in your business, and just like any partnership, they should be vetted for a strong relationship ‘fit.’ From our experience, it’s not just about capital at the early stages (something you’ll rarely read), but about empathy.

In this sense, deciding to partner with Unshackled was one of the best decisions we ever made. In addition to funding and strategic advice, we believe Unshackled’s emotional support might be their most valuable asset to early-stage founders. Being entrepreneurs themselves also means that the team can emphatically relate to the founders in their portfolio. They are sincere, honest (what you see is what you get), calm and will always have your back. It’s no secret that being an immigrant founder can be a lonely journey, especially when navigating the early days and those unavoidable rocky periods. Having a friend to support you during this journey is priceless.

Over the past two years we can say we’ve actually become friends with the Unshackled team instead of purely financial partners (something which you can’t normally say about your investors). To be honest, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve called Manan during our later funding rounds to meticulously analyze every word the potential investors said (or didn’t say). He was always there to listen and share his opinion on the matter; always calm, understanding and motivating. We will never forget that he was the first investor to actually fly to San Diego to see our facility. Not only did it show Unshackled’s sincere interest, but more importantly, we felt that they wanted to truly appreciate what we’re building, something we look for in an early investment partner.

We can honestly say that despite our growing investor base, Unshackled remains our “go-to” as we know that we can be open and transparent without immediately being held accountable. They have become an integral part of Plantible.

Find out more about Plantible Foods by visiting their site and following their story on Twitter.

Originally published at https://unshackledvc.substack.com.

Unshackled Ventures

The early stage venture fund for immigrant-founded startups