AUSTIN, TEXAS — Marissa Epstein has joined Springdale Ventures as its third general partner. Her appointment comes as the Austin-based venture capital firm, which invests in early-stage consumer brands led by diverse entrepreneurs, is preparing to raise for its second fund.
A registered dietitian nutritionist, Ms. Epstein brings expertise in health, wellness and nutrition, having spent nearly a decade partnering with business leaders to build innovative products and brands since spearheading nutrition initiatives at The White House. She was associate director of the Let’s Move! campaign with former First Lady Michelle Obama and led health education technology and services for Stanford Health Care, where she developed and taught the Food and Nutrition Entrepreneurship course for Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. Recently, she was the director of The University of Texas Nutrition Institute, developing programs and courses for early-stage food and beverage entrepreneurs. She advises various food and beverage startups, many founded by former students.
As a general partner at Springdale Ventures, where she has advised over the past two years, Ms. Epstein will continue to help grow its nearly two dozen portfolio companies while sourcing potential investments, serving on portfolio company boards and support fundraising activities. With her appointment, Springdale Ventures joins the 10% of venture capital funds that have two or more female general partners.
“We are thrilled to welcome Marissa to the team,” said Genevieve Gilbreath, co-founder and general partner of Springdale Ventures. “She adds a fresh perspective, has extensive experience in nutrition innovation, deep insights into what makes products successful in the market, and knows how to tap into public and private research to help our portfolio companies scale.”
Ms. Gilbreath founded Springdale Ventures with fellow entrepreneur and operator Dan Graham in 2019. Prior, Ms. Gilbreath was managing director of SKU, the Austin-based consumer packaged goods accelerator, and previously founded and scaled two supplement companies. She developed and piloted the international, cross-cultural Princeton University Bridge Year Program India and was an adjunct professor in health and wellness at Baylor University. She also was a founding board member and president of Naturally Austin, a non-profit supporting startups in the natural products industry.
Mr. Graham previously co-founded e-commerce business BuildASign.com, which was acquired for $280 million in 2018. He then co-founded Notley, a mission-driven organization providing knowledge, collaboration and capital to support social innovation. Over the past decade he has made more than 100 early-stage portfolio investments in consumer brands and technology startups and acts as a mentor to aspiring founders working with Capital Factory and SKU.
Of Ms. Epstein’s appointment, Mr. Graham said, “Marissa has an excellent understanding of how CPG brands can better navigate the challenges of today’s fast-changing consumer landscape. We are proud to have her as part of our growing team at Springdale Ventures, and we know she will help us to keep outperforming other consumer-focused VC firms.”
Spanning the categories of food and beverage, lifestyle, personal care and wellness, Springdale Ventures’ portfolio companies currently average 5x revenue growth. Nearly half of the businesses are led by traditionally underrepresented founders, including women and people of color. Food and beverage companies include Better Booch, Cece’s Veggie Co., Fitjoy, KOS and Lumen.
Building on the successful track record of its $27 million fund, Springdale Ventures is targeting to double the size for its second fund.
“Genevieve, Dan, and I share a passion for partnering with inspiring entrepreneurs to scale brands that make people’s lives better,” Ms. Epstein said. “Springdale has built an exciting portfolio of exceptional teams on their way to becoming legacy brands, and I’m looking forward to joining the team to accelerate their growth.”