A conversation with Rose Marcario, former president and CEO of Patagonia and current founding partner of ReGen Ventures, about moving from an organic food company to joining an early-stage VC fund focused on regenerative technologies.
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During her time as CEO of Patagonia, the company grew to over a billion dollars a year with a very strong activist focus, launched their organic food company Patagonia Provisions and also co-founded the Regenerative Organic Alliance. So why after she left that role, and that stage, she joined the early-stage VC fund focused on regenerative technologies?
VENTURE CAPITAL CAN PLAY A KEY ROLE IN THE REGENERATION SPACE
After working for 12 years at Patagonia, Rose became a founding partner at ReGen Ventures, a venture fund focused on the technology side of things, and on environmental impact companies that will be the brands that will help with the transition that we need to make.
‘The idea that the kinds of businesses that we should be supporting are founders that are focusing on restoring the planet and not destroying it. And this is a startup fund, right? So we’re focusing on really early-stage companies. And that technology has to enable that transition and can be a tool to really enable that transition.’ – Rose Marcario
‘The transition that we need to make towards electrification, towards changes in means of production, towards this new food system that we need to create. I mean, all of these are innovations. and economic opportunities. And so it’s very exciting from that perspective.’ – Rose Marcario
WHY ROSE JOINED REGEN VENTURES
Rose shared with us her vision and motivations to embark on a journey as a founding partner of an early-stage startup fund focused on technology in regeneration.
‘I think what’s exciting is that most of the young entrepreneurs that we meet, and founders that we meet, they grew up with this crisis front and centre in their life, right? They grew up digitally native, and with a tremendous amount of information and access at their fingertips to make their own judgments about what’s happening to people on the planet in the old model, the status quo model, and then what they can do to change it and make a difference in the next couple of decades.’ – Rose Marcario
‘For me, personally, I felt like I want to spend the next couple of decades of my life, where I can be useful, focused on regenerating and restoring the damage that we’ve done to the planet by creating these new economies… I think that’s the exciting part of it from a business perspective. And I think of that, based on products and services and technology that can enable that.’ – Rose Marcario
ROSE’S OPTIMISTIC VIEWS DESPITE ALL THE CHALLENGES
Rose feels very optimistic about all the transitions that need to happen, like being able to track and manage projects and being able to ensure that the carbon markets are accurate and verified, etc. She argues it isn’t a niche in any way and believes it’ll deliver exponential outcomes, both returns and impacts and with less risk than traditional VC. She’s also optimistic about nature’s ability to restore itself.
‘What I see is everyone is trying to figure out “how do I get to my net zero goals, how can I make my supply chain more resilient, and stable and good for the environment, and good for the people that work in it”, and everyone is dealing with those issues, and they’ve made public commitments, and ESG (Environmental Social and Governance) is a big part of governance now, and that’s getting sorted out, the harmonization of these ESG metrics. And that’s not going away. I mean, that is here to stay.’ – Rose Marcario
‘When you undammed river, the fish docks come back, the river comes back to life. And so, I believe in nature’s ability to restore and regenerate itself if we stop doing the harmful things that we’re doing, and it can do it quite quickly. I mean, we saw that in LA after a week of COVID lockedown. I walked outside my house, and I was like, ‘I’ve never seen skies as blue in Los Angeles.’ – Rose Marcario
WHERE ROSE WOULD PUT $1B TO WORK
Rose argues, we are either going to choose life, innovation, health, and learn to live with nature, instead of destroying it, or we’re going to go the way of the dinosaur. She has hope that we can tip the scale towards some more righteous future.
‘I would say that there are certain areas that are really critical, right? And one of those areas is the fact that a lot of farmers don’t own the land that they’re farming, it’s leased. And there are all kinds of difficulties for farmers to actually finance the transitions that they need, from chemical agriculture, or mono-crop agriculture, to regenerative agriculture, and start to move that meter to build topsoil rather than destroying it. So, I think working on the financing mechanisms for that transition is very important because it’s a multi-year transition.’ – Rose Marcario
‘I think this cleanly produced, plant-based protein is very important for the future because if we were feeding everyone the American diet, we blow out all of our planetary boundaries, so that’s not the way to go, besides the large amount of diabetes and other medical issues that we have in the US. So, I think that’s important. I think that pastured animals done correctly is an interesting space, and innovation is needed there. And I think there’s a lot that could be done there and in an interesting way. And I also think financing the transition through these, carbon markets and measurement tools and the science that we really need to know.’ – Rose Marcario
OTHER POINTS DISCUSSED:
Koen and Rose also talked about:
- Carbon storage network;
- Regenerative organic agriculture can feed the world;
- Grazing animals and its benefits;
- Plant-based and the protein diet.
- Elizabeth Whitlow on how to change the ag world with the gold standard of regen certification
- Dan Fitzgerald on applying the principles of regen ag to technology, even cellular ag
- Phil Graves on how Patagonia is investing its $75 million fund into regenerative agriculture
- Mark Lewis, hunting for unicorns in regenerative agriculture and food
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The above references an opinion and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.