NEW YORK — General Mills, Inc. veteran Pete Speranza has joined Unovis Asset Management as operating partner. He brings more than 20 years of consumer packaged goods experience to the venture capital firm.
Unovis provides angel, seed and early-stage funding to companies developing plant-based and cultured alternatives to beef, chicken, pork, lamb, fish, shellfish, dairy and eggs. It has backed dozens of startups, including Beyond Meat, Alpha Foods, Good Catch, Memphis Meats, BlueNalu, Heura Foods and Zero Egg.
“Interest in plant-based innovation in animal alternatives has been increasing year over year, and the latest boom is just a preview of the explosive growth to come,” Mr. Speranza said. “With growing consumer demand and more plant-based products cropping up every day, there is a dire need for well-seasoned analysis of the processes and costs used to bring them to market.”
In his new role, Mr. Speranza will provide supply chain and ingredient sourcing expertise and sales and marketing support to emerging food brands in the Unovis portfolio. He began his career with General Mills in 1997 and led operations at manufacturing plants across the company’s various businesses. In 2012, he co-founded 301 INC, the company’s venture arm and accelerator for brands that have included Purely Elizabeth, Kite Hill, Farmhouse Culture, Rhythm Superfoods and others.
“Funding and consumer buy-in is crucial for early-stage startups, but support and guidance from a proven industry veteran is truly invaluable,” said Chris Kerr, Unovis founding partner and chief information officer. “It’s never been more important for professional investors to look inward and evaluate how they are contributing to growth and investing in companies. With Pete as part of our team, we’re able to offer more of that market know-how to brands that are looking for it.”