General Mills is looking to innovative early-stage brands to help shape its future– and 301 Inc., the CPG giant’s business development and venture capital arm, is at the helm of this charge.
The five-year-old investment group currently has eight brands within its portfolio, including Beyond Meat, Tio Gazpacho, Farmhouse Culture, Rhythm Superfoods, D’s Naturals, and most recently Purely Elizabeth. Pete Speranza, a new business development principal for 301, sat down with Project NOSH’s Carol Ortenberg and Jon Landis for a Taste Radio podcast episode during BevNET Live last month. The trio talked about the nature of the group’s partnerships with those brands and how the venture arm will evolve in years to come.
Speranza said the fund looks to invest in younger brands in the “$0-20 million range” to help “bring them up the curve.” With its current staff of 19, Speranza said he thinks 301 could broaden its umbrella to work with anywhere from 12 to 15 brands in the future.
But not all of those brands will stay within the portfolio for the long haul. Speranza sees each brand as having a three-to-five year incubator life within the fund. After, brands within the portfolio may get folded into the General Mills family, similar to the path followed by meat snack brand Epic, or sold to other investors depending on what is best for each individual company at that time.
“We think there should be somewhat of a flow of brands coming in and leaving as they build and grow,” Speranza said.
When it comes to future investments, Speranza said all categories–regardless of whether one of their portfolio brands is in that space– are on the table.
“We are not going to treat them differently no matter where they’re at,” he said. “Because ultimately, it’s not going to be us who tells them who wins; it’s the consumer who’s going to tell them.”
You can listen to the complete interview with Speranza here. To catch this week’s complete episode of Tate Radio, which also features an interview with Jennie Ripps, the co-founder and CEO of Owl’s Brew, listen below.