Investors are increasingly no longer making demarcations between commercial and social impact investments, particularly the sons and daughters of some of the world’s best-known investors and business leaders.
In May 2020, investment firm Manna Tree Partners, which is co-led by the daughter of a billionaire investor, raised $141.5 million in its debut fund by leveraging relationships with many next-gen successors.
Like many children growing up around business success, you learn the ‘how’. How to build relationships with people, how to work hard and stay focused, and how to adapt to changing conditions
The Vail, Colorado-based Manna Tree is co-led by Gabrielle “Ellie” Rubenstein, daughter of David Rubenstein, the co-founder of US private equity fund The Carlyle Group. He’s also one of the world’s most successful investors and a few years ago launched his own family office, Declaration Capital, to diversify and personalize his investments efforts.
Ellie’s background is what her Manna Tree co-founder Ross Iverson says has helped to make her the investor and opportunity spotter she is today: “Like many children growing up around business success, you learn the ‘how’. How to build relationships with people, how to work hard and stay focused, and how to adapt to changing conditions.” Next gens are making more of an impact in the venture world as never before, as Family Capital reported on early this year.
Working with founders to build their companies in an effort to disrupt conventional food supply chains and better promote human nutrition, Manna Tree is attracting investors into its fund from a lot of the younger generations of wealthy families, along with a big percentage of women-only investors.
Manna Tree’s impact-driven mission is evident in their backing of Verde Farms, a Massachusetts-based beef company the venture group invested $15 million in earlier this year. Fed on pesticide and fertiliser free grass, and hormone and antibiotic-free, Verde Farms’ beef is sustainably packaged and comes from a consortium of family-owned farms across Uruguay, Australia, and North America.
Iverson explains how its co-founders put fifteen years into research and collaboration with ranchers and processors to make their efforts of supply chain transparency a reality. He also says this makes Verde Farms a stand out option for buyers of beef. “Consumers will gravitate towards trusted brands that can ‘prove’ they are not adding toxic or unsafe ingredients into their food.”
Despite only being two years old, Manna Tree has already supported an ethical supply chain business to great success. Vital Farms, a Texan pasture-raised egg brand, made its IPO debut in July and secured a $1.38 billion market cap by the close of its first day of trading.
Vital Farms’ model made it in Iverson’s words, a “great fit” for the public markets and he says that Verde Farms could achieve a similar level of success. “The public markets are valuing environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) at a high level, and Verde Farms has many attributes that would be attractive for financial buyers to showcase that beef can be raised in a way that is not detrimental to the environment, unlike the traditional feedlot cattle industry.”
While Manna Tree now counts several next-gen investors as stakeholders since its successful first fundraising round, Iverson says status isn’t as crucial as intention when it comes to investing in the firm or sitting on its leadership team.
Instead, it’s a shared vision for innovation, global impact and purpose-led investment that are the founding tenets of Manna Tree – and far more critical to its success, says Iverson.
“All the partners at Manna Tree share this ethos,” he adds. “We have assembled a team to create a lasting organisation to change human health through nutrition.”