CSIRO’s venture capital arm wants to reshape the influencer economy


The main sequence team. Photo: Supplied
  • The initiative hopes to reshape the celebrity sponsorship deal by welcoming celebrity co-investment in renewable energy and high-tech startups.
  • The team behind it says the entire project, dubbed “Voice Capital,” is underwritten with a promise of authenticity, playing the role of matchmaker for celebrities and the causes they champion.
  • The first of them to commit to co-invest through the initiative was celebrity chef and restaurateur Neil Perry, who invested in plant protein company v2food.
  • Visit the Business Insider Australia homepage for more stories.

A new initiative born out of CSIRO’s venture capital fund, Main Sequence, hopes to reshape the celebrity sponsorship deal by welcoming celebrity co-investing in renewable energy and high-tech startups.

The fund claims that the entire project, dubbed “Voice Capital,” is backed with a promise of authenticity, playing the role of go-between for celebrities and the causes they champion by inviting them to literally put their money there. where are their mouths.

Gabrielle Munzer, director of Main Sequence, said the core of Voice Capital was the idea that the next business giants will emerge from the biggest challenges on planet Earth.

“Our entire investment capacity is built around these major global challenges. So, like “decarbonizing the planet”, “feeding 10 billion people”. You know, really big ideas on how we need to improve humanity, ”Munzer said.

Where celebrities step in is to deliver on the fronts that the founders of startups – who can be revered in their respective fields; often academics or appeal to a limited industry cohort – often struggle to do so.

Jason Fielding, Head of Voice Capital at Main Sequence, told Business Insider Australia that the fund will typically approach a celebrity and work closely with them to determine what they’re passionate about, then turn the results into a significant co-investment deal. .

“Sometimes we look at a certain individual and we say, ‘Okay, we know they’re passionate about plastic in the oceans because they’ve been campaigning about it,” Fielding said.

“You know, maybe they’ve been a big advocate for change. So we take a company like Samsara, for example, which is part of the portfolio and will recycle plastic endlessly, and we focus on it, ”he said.

The first of them to commit to co-invest through the initiative was celebrity chef and restaurateur, Neil Perry, who invested in plant protein company, v2food, where he was later appointed creative director of the ‘food.

Details of the investment were not disclosed, but Business Insider Australia understands Perry made a significant contribution to the company’s $ 72 million Series B increase in August.

As COP26 draws to a close and accelerating climate change comes with a renewed sense of urgency, Fielding said the fund’s shift to celebrity partnerships is really just an effort. sober to support the fund’s environmental efforts.

“You know, for me personally, I really started to feel the need during the fires of the summer of 2019-20, before COVID-19. And, like everyone else, 2020 has been a year of reflection [that prompted us to look] what we were doing and how can we help make things better? Said Fielding.

“And I think it’s happening in all areas with a lot of people, and high level people and for most areas feeling the same as well. And when they think about it and ask, “How can I be part of the change? “, well, [we’re saying] they can use their voice, their platform and their channel to educate their fans.

The initiative is, in essence, an incubator of ethical celebrity sponsorship agreements. Where once an actor or talker was enlisted by Dior for a beauty or fragrance campaign, they now have the ability to incorporate verified business solutions to some of the world’s most complex problems.

Voice Capital comes at a time when celebrities’ interest in global markets has grown all the more powerful, led by the new celebrity status of the billionaires who make them rock. Elon Musk has assimilated hordes of crypto investors for the first time, while Jay-Z and Shaquille O’Neal have sparked general public interest in PSPCs.

Fielding said the timing for the initiative was no fluke. He wants the fund to overturn traditional celebrity endorsement.

“Celebrity sponsorship deals have been around for 20, 30, even 40 years,” Fielding said.

“So we are the ones who turn it around and say, ‘OK, rather than the company paying you to be a voice, or its ambassador, invest in the company and really believe what it does.’ , did he declare.

“Let’s see how we can really maximize that impact you can have. “


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