Elly Truesdell and Hallie Bonar are taking their experience as brand-builders and CPG experts and using it to help fuel the growth of emerging brands in the specialty food space.
The two co-founded one of the few women-led venture capital firms in the industry, New Fare Partners, which is seeking to invest in emerging companies throughout the food ecosphere. Specialty food brands in their investment portfolio include Omsom, the New York-based maker of chef-driven Asian sauces; Actual Veggies, a maker of plant-based burgers; Tacombi, a Mexican food brand, and Foxtrot, the specialty convenience store/foodservice chain, among others.
New Fare seeks to invest in brands that satisfy the demands of today’s consumers around sustainability, climate consciousness, ethical sourcing, community involvement, and omnichannel capabilities.
“The young, modern consumer today is much more expecting of both their food brands and their food experiences, just because there’s been this great renaissance in natural foods,” said Truesdell, founder and managing partner, New Fare Partners.
These demands have made it increasingly challenging to build a successful food business, they said. That is where Truesdell and Bonar see an opportunity to put their operational and brand-building experience to work helping grow the companies in their portfolio.
Truesdell spent nearly a decade at Whole Foods Market, where as global director of local brands and product innovation she helped fuel the growth of brands such as RX Bar, Sir Kensington’s, and Hu Kitchen. She later operated a food manufacturing business, Canopy Foods, co-founded the Made by Nacho pet food brand, and was a partner at venture fund Almanac before founding New Fare.
Bonar, meanwhile, worked with Truesdell at both Canopy Foods, where she oversaw new product commercialization, and at Almanac. She was also responsible for launching Made by Nacho, the omnichannel pet brand founded by celebrity chef and restaurateur Bobby Flay. She specializes in branding and marketing, while Truesdell brings retail experience and expertise in supply chains and strategy.
Combined, the two have the opportunity to help emerging brands avoid the pitfalls of growing a business in today’s environment, they said.
“We really have been in the shoes of these founders in multiple different ways,” said Bonar.
The company typically provides early-stage funding, with an average investment of about $500,000. It seeks companies that not only have an omnichannel presence, but that are founder-led, and generate at a minimum about $1 million in annualized revenues.
New Fare launched in the spring of 2022, and last November announced that it had raised $20 million for its inaugural fund.
The company’s investors include a host of well-known names in the specialty food industry, including Flay; Walter Robb, the former co-CEO of Whole Foods; Kathleen King, founder of Tate’s Bakeshop; Gary Hirshberg, founder of Stonyfield Organic; Andrew Abraham, founder of Orgain; Gabi Lewis, founder of Magic Spoon; and Charlie Sweat, former CEO of Earthbound Organics.