In Conversation

Funding consumer brands in 2023

Elly Truesdell, founder of New Fare Partners, on where she’s investing today, what’s changed, and how food startups can get ready for venture.

Elly Truesdell, New Fare Partners
New Fare Partners founder Elly Truesdell / Photos courtesy

This interview is also available as a podcast for The New Consumer members. Subscribe or sign in to listen.

If I were starting a food brand, I would want Elly Truesdell, founder of New Fare Partners, on my cap table.

Before becoming a VC, Truesdell spent almost a decade at Whole Foods Market in a unique series of roles, eventually becoming global director of local brands and product innovation.

That means she explored the thousands of new food and consumer brands, picked the best ones, and helped them launch and scale their products in Whole Foods stores — a life-changing opportunity for many businesses. Also an incredible experience in data-gathering, deal flow, and network-building for a future investor.

Last year, Truesdell launched New Fare, an early stage venture capital firm based in New York, where she’s already invested in the snack brand Mid-Day Squares, the sauce brand Bachan’s, and Foxtrot, the modern convenience store chain that I profiled in depth last year.

It has been, as many of you know, a very weird couple of years for venture capital — and for consumer startups. Many firms have pulled back from investing in brands, instead focusing more on infrastructure.

So I wanted to get a sense of how Truesdell is thinking about the opportunity in consumer brands, where she’s spending her time as an investor, and how New Fare’s strategy has already changed.

What follows is a lightly edited transcript of our conversation. Members can also listen to this interview as a podcast.

In this interview:

  • Elly Truesdell’s background: From Whole Foods to New Fare
  • The “modern eater” and New Fare’s portfolio so far
  • Is Truesdell and New Fare still excited to invest in consumer brands?
  • The three kinds of brands Truesdell wants to invest in
  • What has changed in New Fare’s investment strategy?
  • How should food startups balance e-commerce with retail growth?
  • What do retail stores want from cool startup brands today?
  • What’s Truesdell’s take on “creator” and celebrity-led brands?
  • Should restaurants try to start CPG businesses? When does this work?
  • What should tiny consumer startups do to get ready for venture investment?

Dan Frommer: Thanks for joining me today, Elly. Let’s start with you and your firm. I’d love to hear the short story on your background — I know you had a cool career in grocery — and how you got into venture, and the beginnings of New Fare.

Elly Truesdell: The beginnings of New Fare really start, I guess, 15 years ago. I’ve been in the food industry for a long time. “Cool grocery career” is sort of funny to say, but I did — I had an unusual and pretty amazing ride at Whole Foods Market for almost ten years and started my career there.

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Dan Frommer

Hi, I’m Dan Frommer and this is The New Consumer, a publication about how and why people spend their time and money.

I’m a longtime tech and business journalist, and I’m excited to focus my attention on how technology continues to profoundly change how things are created, experienced, bought, and sold. The New Consumer is supported by your membership — join now to receive my reporting, analysis, and commentary directly in your inbox, via my member-exclusive newsletter. Thanks in advance.

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