Ellie Rubenstein on wellness themes investors should be watching

Ellie Rubenstein, Manna Tree Partners Co-Founder & CEO, joined Yahoo Finance Live to discuss her firms latest investment and her outlook for the health and wellness sector.

Video Transcript

SEANA SMITH: The COVID pandemic has brought health and well-being to the forefront. Here to talk more about that and what she's doing to invest in health and wellness, we want to bring in Ellie Rubenstein. She's the co-founder and CEO of Manna Tree Partners, And Ellie, great to speak with you again. I know that you recently led a financing round of $55 million to raise awareness for Evivo. And for some of our viewers who may not be familiar with their product, it's a probiotic for infants. My question though is, what is it about Evivo that got your attention? And how does it fit into your overall investment strategy?

ELLIE RUBENSTEIN: Well first, thank you for having me back. It's nice to see you. So Manna Tree is an investment firm that is focused on improving human health through nutrition. And Evolve is our sixth deal to date. What excited us most about this, is that the gut market has actually tripled in size. And we see the gut as the second brain. And one of the interesting things about this, is you're now actually seeing a pathway about how food and biotech can merge together.

My example of that would be the Evivo product. And what that means, is that you have a product that is fully commercialized, it's available in consumer channels today, and it is science fact. And that is an exciting thing for those of us that do believe in food as medicine. This specific product actually targets a newborn gut deficiency. And what that means, is that if we invest in guiding the long-term health of the gut in a baby, we hopefully can prevent things later on, like asthma, allergies, type 1 diabetes or colic.

And again, this is 90% proven that for babies that were born via C-section or mothers with antibiotic use, if you add the powder to the breast milk, it actually activates this B Infantis strain, which unfortunately, most babies today are actually not born with. So again, by rewiring a baby's gut lining, you're actually starting to see new scientific cures that really are in the food as medicine channel. And for that, we're very grateful. One more thing about why--

ADAM SHAPIRO: I want interrupt, I want to interrupt you really quick.


ADAM SHAPIRO: Because I tried to open the link to read about Evivo and I just want to make sure, because you do have a track record that is, speaks for itself favorably. But when you get to be my age, you kind of see some of these things come and go. You know, so, forgive me. How is this not a fad? And what attracted to you as. yeah, this really is long-term?

ELLIE RUBENSTEIN: It's a great question. So I think one of the things that COVID has shined a light on, is that only 12% of the US is metabolically healthy. And so what we really have going on is the slow pandemic of the last 30 or 40 years, where 50% of this population does today have diabetes, hypertension or obesity. And again, when you're looking at how you can start to take dollars that are spent on health care into prevention, the cost to states today to feed this sick population, $11,100.

And when we started looking at that from a health care standpoint, we said, where are the sound science where maybe if we could bring in consumer awareness, we actually can restore some of this health care needs later on? And I think that one of the things that's so fascinating about a baby and this gut health area, is that the science was what allowed us to back this. Again, Cargill Health Sciences, we led this deal. There are other investors in the deal, including the Gates Foundation and Johnson & Johnson.

And what we saw was Manna Tree, given our consumer awareness and relatability that six out of 10 of us are women. We have three newborn babies in our firm that are actually using the product. And it's pretty transformative to be able to give a new parent a product where they can add it to breast milk and the baby doesn't cry. And more so, you're knowing it's prevention. So I think that that's a shift you're going to see is now this is about prevention and using food in order to do that.

SEANA SMITH: Ellie, unfortunately we're short on time, so we have to end it there. But we look forward to having you back again soon and speaking with you more about your other various investments. But Ellie Rubenstein, co-founder and CEO of Manna Tree Partners, thank you so much for joining us today on Yahoo Finance.