When most people look at the world’s problems – the least of which being climate change, water scarcity, and global hunger – they often find these mammoth issues to be completely overwhelming. We’ve all experienced that feeling of utter helplessness in the face of an imminent natural disaster, for example. To Ela Madej, founding partner of Fifty Years, an early stage VC fund, these problems aren’t just problems, they are opportunities.

Ela is a tech entrepreneur with a passion for understanding how our actions impact the world around us. After learning about the inefficiencies and many unintended consequences of our current food system, she went vegan and has used her platform at Fifty Years to help find tech solutions to the world’s food crisis.


To Ela, Silicon Valley is not about making a quick buck, it’s about empowering purpose-driven technology that can have a positive impact on today’s society. With this in mind, she has invested in over 30 private companies in areas such as synthetic biology, energy, space tech, health tech, food tech, autonomous vehicles, and more.

In a recent episode of #EatForThePlanet with Nil Zacharias, Ela explained how she sees the tech space as being filled with “beautiful ways” to repair the broken food system. From helping to reduce pesticide use through innovative growing-technology to being able to transport fresh produce to places that need it most, Ela sees many different opportunities for companies to improve the way we eat. Adding to that, she has also invested in Memphis Meats, the pioneering company working on clean meat, and Geltor, a technology company that produces vegan gelatin.

During the conversation, Ela gets into the current state of our economy and why capitalism needs to evolve if we want to prepare for a future that will be negatively impacted by climate change. She even gets into the role of Artificial Intelligence and why it is so important for us to start building values into technology that favor animals, human health, and the planet.

Technology helped to build our current industrialized food system, but it has also caused many unexpected consequences. By mechanizing and expanding meat and dairy, for example, we’ve created an environmental crisis where the global livestock industry is responsible for rampant deforestation as well as air and water pollution – not to mention produces more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation sector.


We now have the opportunity to build better technology that can help heal our food system – and if anyone can help start this movement, it is Ela.

You can listen to the full episode below or on the following platforms: iTunesGoogle PlaySpotifyStitcher.

If you like this episode, be sure to subscribe to the #EatForThePlanet with Nil Zacharias podcast for new episodes with food industry leaders, health, and sustainability experts, as well as entrepreneurs and creative minds who are redefining the future of food.