You may know Adrian Grenier from his role in the HBO series Entourage, but he’s also a passionate impact investor. When not on the big screen, Grenier is investing his time and money into making the world a better place, literally. He’s taken a notable interest in the health of our oceans, serving as a UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador and co-founding Lonely Whale, a foundation focused on raising awareness around our oceans. Grenier doesn’t stop with raising awareness, though. He’s putting his money to work investing in companies who are changing consumer behavior for the benefit of our planet.
On investments he feels good about:
“My inspiration stems from the inside first, because to create real impact, it must come from a place of authenticity. To do this meant finding clarity in my own life and creating alignment between my values, lifestyle, and mindset. In the business world, I made some changes — divesting from oil and defense sectors and other sectors I don’t believe in, and supporting companies I care about. Companies that look towards the future and solve vexing and important issues.”
The key to solving important issues? Shifting consumer behavior. While making behavioral changes isn’t easy, Grenier is excited by companies making strides in the right direction.
On shifting consumer behavior for the good of the environment:
“Part of the answer in shifting consumer behavior is to make it easy, clear, and habitual or recurring. While I want to invest in companies that appeal to the consumer and my own highest selves, I also know that for the company to be successful, they have to be sexy enough to draw consumers in. A favorite example of this is TheRealReal. Over $500 billion is lost every year due to clothing underutilization and lack of recycling, and more than half of fast fashion is disposed of every year. Yet clothing and luxury consumption isn’t going away. TheRealReal reinvents the consumption of global luxury items by making it okay to buy used clothing while not compromising on style or convenience.”
Companies that strike the right balance of mission and market success often have strong leaders. When Grenier reflects on the leaders who he admires most, they have one skill in common — storytelling.
On entrepreneurs who inspire him:
“I love what Sarah Paiji Yoo of Blueland is doing. She realized what a drastic impact plastic is having on our health, our land, and our oceans. 14 billion pounds of plastic trash is dumped in our oceans each year, and much of this comes from single use plastics. We have a huge chance to reinvent the way we clean our homes — a move that could eliminate 100 billion plastic bottles annually. It stems from a simple premise: why buy a new bottle each time when you can refill the same one? It’s both the economically and ecologically the smart thing to do. Another leader is Ethan Brown from Beyond Meat. He created a company that embodied his values — reducing carbon emissions and removing animal cruelty. He views his mission as more important than himself. Meanwhile he’s built a company that did $300 million in revenue last year — a clear testament to its impact in consumer behavior. Both of these entrepreneurs are not only successful business people, but they are storytellers too, and that's what resonates with me as an artist. They found a problem that needs solving, and they spread awareness of their story and the need for change with every sale.”
Strong stories have captured him from his early days as an investor. He remembers one of his first investments striking a chord with the story it told.
On his first investments:
“I get excited about a business and founders that can create a strong narrative. JUST Egg was one of my first venture capital investments, and they told a story I hadn’t heard before — that breakfast needed to change. We go through 1.4 trillion chicken eggs a year. This takes an enormous toll on animal welfare and on our water, land, and air. JUST Egg uses 80% less water, land, and carbon, and eliminates the need for any animals needing to suffer. I’m not a vegan personally, but I believe we need more and better plant-based options. Businesses like JUST Egg that tell a compelling story and provide a better alternative are both what I initially sought and what I still look for today.”
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