Kraft Heinz has committed up to $100 million to Evolve Ventures and brought on venture investor Bill Pescatello on board to lead the fund. He brings more than a decade of successful venture investing experience at two leading venture funds to Kraft Heinz.
The 41-year-old was previously a partner at Lightbank, a $200 million fund started in 2010 by entrepreneurs Brad Keywell and Eric Lefkofsky– co-founders of Groupon. Pescatello will run Evolv ventures from Chicago.
Pescatello has stated that he and his three-member team will be “investing in anything in food: food-tech, operations from farm to retail, supply chain, logistics and predictive analytics.” It plans to do 10-12 deals, and invest $4-5 million in each, over the next three years.
Pescatello, will be reporting to his new boss, Bernardo Hees, CEO of Kraft Heinz and a private-equity veteran.
According to Hees himself: “New technological innovations in the food industry create endless new opportunities to strengthen business models. Through Evolv Ventures, we will work with tomorrow’s most innovative founders and companies in the space, and use the full resources of Kraft Heinz to help them succeed.”
Kraft Heinz has an extensive history of developing iconic brands that include Philadelphia, Heinz and Oscar Mayer. The new fund will accelerate the company’s exposure to emerging technologies and businesses, and better leverage its position in the industry.
Pescatello stated: “At Evolv Ventures, we will move beyond brands to have a committed first look at our industry’s most promising and disruptive tech-enabled companies.”
“With the insights, data and access available at Kraft Heinz, we look to take full advantage of our unique position and be the foremost value-added investor in the space.” He further added.
The company has appointed Karina Ong, as its chief marketing officer for the Asia Pacific region. Based in Singapore, she will lead the growth agenda for the brands and spearhead the long-term innovation pipeline for Kraft Heinz portfolio in the zone. As CMO, Ong will also join the Kraft Heinz regional leadership team, and report directly to Rodrigo Wickbold, the Kraft Heinz APAC president.
Ong brings 18 years of consumer marketing experience at both the regional and global level. Prior to joining Kraft Heinz, he was with Unilever, where she held several roles—the latest being the global brand development director for Pond’s.
Prior to which, she was also responsible for leading key brand and marketing teams at Johnson & Jonson and Lux Asia.