A recent report by media outlet CNBC uncovered a group of like-minded investors that refer to themselves as the “vegan mafia.” Members of the group include prominent entrepreneurs, biotech engineers, and venture capitalists from across the country who use their capital to fund mission-driven startups with a vegan lean. “There’s a whole community of us that are building and funding vegan companies,” Ryan Bethencourt, venture partner at biotechnology accelerator and seed-funding company Indie Bio, said. Members of the vegan mafia—a reference to the “PayPal mafia,” a group of investors from the 1990s who built the now popular finance company—include Google Ventures CEO Bill Maris (who confirmed to CNBC that he is vegan), vegan investment firm VegInvest managing partner Jody Rasch, co-founders of vegan chain Veggie Grill Kevin Boylan and TK Pillan, and ZICO Coconut Water founder Mark Rampolla—who is also a partner, along with Pillan and Boylan, in investment firm PowerPlant Ventures—along with several others. “This isn’t about kale and tofu,” Rasch said “Well, some of it is, but it’s also about bringing new biotech to food, drugs, and materials.” Several companies currently in the group’s investment portfolio include Veggie Grill, vegan meat company Beyond Meat, and vegan gelatin company Geltor.
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