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Cam Newton on investing in plant-based chicken startup Daring Foods

January 9, 2022, 2:00 PM UTC

For plant-based meat alternatives, 2021 was a breakout year, and the market is only looking more lucrative going into 2022. Daring Foods is developing sustainable healthier meat replacements for the most widely consumed animal protein: chicken.

Led by Founders Fund and D1 Capital Group as well as other personalities and athletes, the brand’s latest funding round will help support national distribution of its product; it recently became available in 3,000 Walmart stores nationwide.

NFL star and Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton recently shared more with Fortune about why he is investing in Daring Foods as well as about plant-based diets for athletes and the future of plant-based chicken.

Cam Newton, quarterback of the Carolina Panthers.
Kelsey Grant—Getty Images
  • Startup: Daring Foods
  • Year Founded: 2018
  • Location: Los Angeles
  • Valuation: Undisclosed
  • Investment Level: $65 million Series C in October 2021; over $120 million in total funding
  • Other Major Investors: Founders Fund, D1 Capital Group, Naomi Osaka, Steve Aoki, Chase Coleman, Palm Tree Crew, Maveron, and Drake

Why he invested, in his own words

I don’t have a business degree. I play football, which was my ticket out of Atlanta. The other way out was illegal activity, and that wasn’t an option. I challenged the status quo, dared to work hard, and was able to leave. Growing up, my dad always said, “Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future.” He meant that your friends are influences on your life—they teach you lessons and are who you rely on, which is why he always encouraged me to surround myself with loyal people. It is why I don’t invest in businesses, I invest in people. 

By 2019, I was recovering from numerous injuries, trying to increase energy, and improve self-care at my core. I had been vegan for years when I met Ross Mackay, founder and CEO of Daring. At the time, I didn’t know the magnitude of Daring; it was still just a concept, but I had a gut feeling about Ross. I believed in him and his vision as a person and was all in.

I’ve played more years in the league than I have left and am looking to build relationships, make investments, and grow as a person so that when I retire I can continue learning and make an impact. My privilege has taught me in my adult life the importance of a healthy diet. Being a Black man who grew up in the South, fried chicken was a staple in most diets. It was inexpensive and delicious; while not the healthiest option, we sometimes even had it twice a day. Ross dared to dream and shake up a multibillion-dollar industry. Something I hope to accomplish with Daring is to teach the Atlanta community and others the power of plant-based eating. Forming a healthy diet doesn’t need to be expensive and can have the same taste, texture, and feel as real chicken without the harmful results to our body, environment, and the chickens. 

I want to learn about the world so that I can teach others and give back. That is why I have followed my dad’s words and made friends who have fueled my constant obsession to learn about different parts of life, communities, industries, etc., and it’s why I invest. I talk daily with Ross, not just about Daring, but we lean on each other as resources to gain more knowledge. I believe in all that Daring has to offer: its innovative approach, vision to create a better environment, and ability to impact lives one bite at a time. But before that came alive and to fruition, what I really invested in was Ross: his resilience, dedication, and ability to challenge the status quo.

This is an installment of Why I Invested, a series featuring famous investors from all different backgrounds and industries, revealing what inspired them to invest their own money in a new business.