Supply Change Capital is latest women-led VC to raise substantial debut fund

Supply Change Capital closed on $40 million in capital commitments for its first fund, targeting investments in the global food industry valued at $10 trillion.

The female and Latina-owned firm is spearheaded by co-founders and managing partners Noramay Cadena and Shayna Harris, who met 14 years ago in business school.

Supply Change Capital’s new fund puts it among a growing group of women-led venture capital firms that closed on sizable debut funds this year. This includes recent announcements by:

  • Jessica Verrilli and April Underwood at Adverb Ventures, who raised $75 million for their debut fund, also announced in July.
  • Jennifer Stojkovic at Joyful Ventures, which raised $23 million, also for investment in food tech.
  • Zoey Dash McKenzie at Public Ventures, which is targeting $100 million.
  • Erin and Sara Foster at Oversubscribed Ventures, which is going after $20 million.
  • Meena Harris and Helen Min at Phenomenal Ventures, which debuted with $6 million.
  • Bénédicte de Raphélis Soissan at Emblem, which raised nearly $54 million.

Prior to becoming an investor, Cadena’s background was as an aerospace engineer. When she did pivot to VC, she mainly invested in manufacturing and supply chain companies. Meanwhile, Harris came from the operator side, holding positions as chief operating officer of Farmer’s Fridge and previously developing the sustainable commodities program at Mars.

They started raising for the fund in 2021, and it took them about two years to close the $40 million, which they attribute to some factors that included that limited partners wanted to see how they invested as a team and that they are investing in both technology and consumer companies, 75% and 25%, respectively. However, Cadena and Harris say that by having investments in both areas, they can better understand the pain points they hear from their portfolio companies.

“It’s been interesting how it’s played out in our fund because we don’t think we can be viable and real food tech investors without investing in food,” Cadena told TechCrunch. “That gives us this halo effect to really understand what emerging brands are facing in the ecosystem. That was another hurdle for us to get through — where we have to be very steadfast about the fact that it’s actually important for us to understand both sides of the table.”

The pair are backed by a list of heavy-hitting limited partners, including 301 INC, the venture capital arm of General Mills; MassMutual through its First Fund Initiative; the Office of the Illinois Treasurer through the Illinois Growth and Innovation Fund; Illumen Capital’s Catalyst Fund; and J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

Starting in June 2021, Cadena and Harris began investing. In addition, they offer a six-month cohort program that all founders take part in that focuses on leadership, management and culture.

They invest at the earliest stages in the areas of deep tech food, agriculture and ingredient, supply chain technology and enterprise software, with a thesis around securing the future food supply.

So far, Supply Change has deployed some $13 million already across 15 startups. Eighty percent of the firm’s portfolio is comprised of Latinx, Black or female founders and CEOs.

Those include allergen-free snack food company Partake Foods, ingredients startup Michroma and alternative seafood maker Aqua Cultured Foods. Among the 15, Supply Change led three of the deals.

Cadena and Harris not only invest in culture and climate, but also the demand side, which is driving the world’s food and water crises.

“The demand side is where we really felt like we have a unique lens to bring to this market,” Harris said in an interview. “Where we see opportunity, and where we see consumers are underserved, is delivering the next food over the next couple of generations. They are focused on those changes, and the need is both in terms of the technologies available to help get them the products they’re looking for, and the actual products getting on the shelf.”

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