The Agony of Choice: The Assessment Process of New Ventures in the Alternative Protein Market

Moritz Hartmann & Quirin Schrewe

Student thesis: Master thesis


Purpose: Fueled by increased consumer awareness concerning sustainability, personal health, and a rethinking of society, alternative protein ventures are on the rise. These new companies, which are aiming to substitute meat either entirely or partially, often diverge fundamentally not only in their underlying technology but also maturity. Their growth is mostly driven by funding from a variety of investors that are motivated by financial and strategic objectives. In this context, the lifecycle of new ventures and the assessment process are repeatedly painted with the same brush, a fact underscored by the often-predefined characteristics of ventures along the funding cycle. In contrast to this rather general and rigid perspective, this paper entails the peculiarities of the novel alternative protein market (APM). It sets out to explore the assessment process in the APM along the funding cycle by examining the two fundamental sides, the investors and investment recipients.
Method: This paper follows an explorative and abductive research strategy, as this represents a suitable approach to engage in this highly practical research field, which is characterized by sparse and scattered theoretical insights. First, the scientific consensus was identified by collecting, reviewing, and compiling the current literature. The resulting synthesis of the prevailing concepts was confronted with the specifics of the APM in the form of reports and one exploratory interview, from which five propositions emerged that address main gaps and peculiarities. This was followed by a qualitative analysis, which was carried out through six semi-structured expert interviews that were subsequently coded and analyzed in an iterative process and guided by the propositions. In the end, the resulting empirical findings lead to several frameworks and further findings that extend the existing scientific consensus and simultaneously constitute the final results of this work.
Findings: On the investor side, a shift to earlier funding stages, an extension of the primary objectives by more impact and sustainable-driven motives, as well as change within the roles and activities towards the ventures, became apparent. To extend the conventional rigid classifications of the investor types, eight different classification dimensions have been identified with underlying clusters. The analysis of the investment recipient side across the verticals resulted in a more transparent form of classification. Incorporating their specific situation instead of following the conventional funding or lifecycle led to new venture classes, namely Recipe, Hybrid, and Moon-shot Ventures. Furthermore, it emerged that the importance and dynamics of specific assessment criteria dimensions change and greatly vary with increasing maturity of the ventures.

EducationsMSc in Supply Chain Management , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages140