The Swedish entrepreneur and investor Måns Ullerstam is a real doer. After realising that there were no investment opportunities that met his ethical and sustainable standards, he quickly created one himself. That is how “Kale Invest” – an investment platform that invests only in plant-based companies – was born. But that’s not all. Ullerstam was recently trained by Al Gore as a Climate Reality Leader in order to further advance his commitment to tackling climate change. That was reason enough for us to interview the young visionary about his investment project and the worldwide development of veganism.
How did you come up with the idea of founding a platform for “vegan investments”?
The idea for plant-based investments came to me when I was thinking about my pension fund. I realized that so far there was no way to invest my savings in a plant-based and ethical way. So I had to solve the problem myself. Fortunately for me, plant-based investments are currently in an extremely interesting growth phase. One reason for this is the rapidly increasing number of people who now follow a plant-based diet. The growing demand for sustainable and ethical investment opportunities is also a growth promoter.
But my pension fund was not the only reason why I started Kale Invest. I have given a lot of thought to how I can have the greatest possible impact in my quest for a better world. I realized that Kale Invest was the project that could best be scaled. I could help hundreds of thousands of people to invest their savings in vegan businesses, which will help them succeed in a way that benefits everyone.
In addition, it has so far not been possible for investors to generate profits that have a positive impact. Plant-based investments provide the perfect combination of high profitability and growth, coupled with ethical and sustainable values. Whereas in the past you had to choose between the two, Kale Invest makes both possible.
How is the Swedish market developing with regards to veganism?
Very well! Sweden has always been a breeding ground for startups. The Swedes have a strong tendency to quickly pick up new trends and get used to them. Sweden’s latest enthusiasm is plant-based nutrition, and many startups are following this trend. This may also be the reason why the Swedish Board of Agriculture has just discovered that there has been the biggest decline in the annual consumption of meat since 1990. To be even more specific: on average, every Swede is consuming 2.2 kilos less meat per year.
What exactly does your investment strategy look like?
In general, my strategy is that I always think long-term. I always invest in and participate in vegan companies with a long-term perspective. I generally avoid making lightning investments that are quickly invested and quickly pulled out again. I tend to follow Warren Buffet’s “Never Selling” strategy.
Why is the plant-based market worth focusing on?
The market for plant-based products is currently showing extremely high growth potential throughout the world. It is a market that is open to large and extremely scalable innovations. In addition, there is the emotionality that this topic brings with it. This is particularly evident in the increasingly widespread ethical and sustainable values of consumers and companies. Everyone wants to help make the planet a better place. And that’s what makes this market so exciting and highly interesting for all sides.
How do you think veganism will affect traditional markets?
In my view, the entire plant-based industry is at a turning point. Slowly but surely, in some areas the initial “innovators” are becoming “early adopters”. We are seeing similar developments in more advanced areas, where early adopters are already becoming an early majority. And that applies to all areas, such as food, cosmetics, fashion, interior design and much more.
Which of your investments currently have the highest potential?
In general, Kale Invest offers a broad portfolio of both public and private companies, all of which pursue high ethical and sustainable standards. Our portfolio currently comprises around 30 (international) companies in the plant-based sector, as well as in FoodTech, AgTech, environmental protection, healthcare and IT. To give you a few names:
Taku Taku (the first vegan Swedish fast food chain), Tofutti (producer of dairy-free food), Senza Gen (alternative to animal testing), Trine (solar crowd funding).
There are other highly interesting investments, which, however, are still subject to secrecy.
Why was it important to you to open the platform to private individuals and to enable them to invest in this sector?
Plant-based entrepreneurs always have great visions of breathing life into their innovations. We want to support these visions in the future by opening an investment platform for private individuals who can then support these visions with smaller sums, in the style of crowd-funding. A little effort can have a big impact on the world.
Above all, it will be exciting for us because we want to make the project accessible to everyone worldwide. It will be a challenge to take into account and reconcile the different rules and laws of the various global financial markets.
What are your investment recommendations for the near future?
In my opinion, plant-based companies with a globally scalable concept have enormous potential. But everyone must find their own personal area in which they feel comfortable. Some like food, others like leather alternatives and others like cosmetics. However, the recommendation is not to put all your eggs in one basket. It is better to invest small sums divided between five to ten companies in your area. Then follow the developments of the companies and invest only in those that are really successful.