Hi Michael, sorry for the belated response.
You make a lot of interesting points in your comments, some of which I hadn’t considered. As a general point before replying to any specifics, I found it really difficult to model a CEA for a for-profit company so this is definitely by no means perfect as I had to make a lot of weird assumptions to try and make it work, such as assuming that all of the funding would be donated by EA funds rather than met by investors etc. and that we wouldn’t own any shares in the company.
I think you make a good point, though, that financial returns probably should be included in this. Also, again I think you’re right that we could have taken a more in-depth look at the counterfactuals of the co-founders as they definitely could earn-to-give in this position, though as you said they would likely take much lower salaries than the average start-up founder. Both of these factors would make this intervention more cost effective, though I am unsure by how much. Thinking about this, this just makes me more excited for plant-based start-ups to focus on plant-based seafood! Though I still don’t think that CE would be best placed to help this start-up, I think the market would do a much better job.
Thanks for the responses!
I think it’s much more likely the company would fail anyway if most of its funding had to come from donations. It would be a bad sign if you couldn’t get investors on board. And the fact that a company like this doesn’t already exist doesn’t mean that no one would invest in it.
There are also groups whose investments focus largely on this space, and I’d guess you could get investment from them. These are three that I’ve come across without specifically looking:
https://straydogcapital.com/ (Sentience Institute is going to have them on their podcast, so it might be worth suggesting some questions to Jamie Harris)
So, perhaps rather than displacing EA donations, you should think of their investments as displacing the average investment from one of these companies. If plant-based seafood in Asia happens to be at least an order of magnitude more cost-effective in its welfare impact than the average investment, then the opportunity costs of investment could basically be ignored. (However, ROI for the investors also matters, since it can allow them to do more impact investing, even if each investment has lower impact, or maybe they’ll donate more. There’s also the question of whether or not the investors donate to EAA charities or could be convinced to and to what extent, if any, their investments compete or could compete with donations.)
If this was something CE wanted to pursue, it could start as a joint project between CE and GFI (with CE focused on selecting founders and training them on entrepreneurship generally?), and then it would be handed off to GFI and investors. Some funding could come from CE and GFI, but I’d expect it mostly to come from the investors, maybe almost all of it.
It could also be worth reaching out to Scott Weathers, who had been thinking about something like this a couple of years ago and now works at GFI. Or just talk to GFI generally. I think they’d have more useful feedback.