is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC
This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.
Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry
Seeing a "massive, untapped opportunity" to help Americans build healthier habits around drinking, Cutback Coach (San Francisco, California) created a text-message-based program that leverages behavioral psychology tactics to help users cut back on alcohol. The startup, founded last year, closed a $3.1 million seed round from investors Uncork Capital, Adjacent Venture Capital, Fitbit cofounder James Park, Lyft cofounder and CEO Logan Green, MyFitness Pal cofounder Mike Lee and others.
The U.S. used more than 20 million tons of fertilizer in 2019. Phospholutions (State College, Pennsylvania) raised $10.3 million in a series A to commercialize a fertilizer additive that it predicts will reduce that amount and the corresponding environmental problems. The product improves plants' uptake of nutrients so farmers don't use as much of fertilizer. This year, Phospholutions plans to run large-scale field trials and build out its team, which the funding will support. Continental Grain Company's CGC Ventures led the round, which included Maumee Ventures, Tekfen Ventures, the Ag Ventures Alliance Cooperative and 1855 Capital.
A technology company focused on eliminating barriers to opening a new restaurant in the age of COVID-19 announced a $7 million funding round. Mealco (New York, New York) says chefs who use its solution start a delivery-only restaurant in six to eight weeks, without renting a kitchen, purchasing ingredients or hiring staff. Chefs create their menus, then Mealco sources ingredients locally, oversees cooks it hired and, through third-party apps, delivers meals to customers. Two New York-based restaurants have launched under its model, and Mealco says 50 chefs are on the waitlist. Rucker Park Capital led the round; FJLabs, Reshape, 2048 Ventures, Oceans Ventures, Wilshire Lane Partners and angel investors also got in on it.
In an oversubscribed series B, agriculture technology firm Aerobotics (Cape Town, South Africa) raised $17 million. Its platform employs artificial intelligence, drones and other robotics to help tree and fruit farmers identify problems, estimate yield and better manage their crops. The investment arm of consumer internet company Naspers led the round. Cathay AfricInvest Innovation, FMO: Entrepreneurial Development Bank and Platform Investment Partners also participated. Aerobotics operates in 18 countries across Africa, the Americas, Europe and Australia. It plans to use the investment to further develop its technology.
Vestar Capital Partners (New York, New York), has made a majority investment in Dr. Praeger's Sensible Foods (Elmwood Park, New Jersey). A pioneer in the plant-based and better-for-you foods business, Dr. Praeger's was started in 1994 by a pair of cardiologists and grew into a family owned business with a large line of frozen veggie burgers, vegetable-based snacks and seafood. Vestar has a number of other investments in the better-for-you food industry, including early-stage investor BIGR Ventures, consumer data company IRI and baking brand Simple Mills. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.
A new $4 million convertible note round for Wesana Health (Chicago, Illinois) will support the company as it enters the emerging psychedelics space. Founded by former professional hockey player Daniel Carcillo, Wesana Health states that its mission is to treat traumatic brain injury and other mental health ailments using psilocybin (the active ingredient in "magic mushrooms") and other natural therapies. It plans to use the funding to begin preclinical and clinical work on such treatments and build out its senior leadership team. The Conscious Fund and Ambria Capital led the funding.
Plant-based investors Veg Capital and Kale United, along with angel investors, are getting behind One Planet Pizza (Norfolk, England) with a £360,000 (about $490,000) funding round. Started in 2016 by a father-son team, One Planet Pizza sells frozen plant-based pizzas packaged in a sleeve made from recyclable materials. The funding will give it more resources and bandwidth to improve its production capacity, release new products and break into the Scandinavian marketplace this year.
Equipped with £1.7 million (about $2 million) raised via the Seedrs crowdfunding platform, Heights (London, England) has formally launched a subscription service for what it calls high-quality, sustainably sourced, plant-based supplements for brain care. Several notable entrepreneurs participated, as well as early stage investor Forward Partners. Heights says it will use the funds to grow its customer base and develop new products, including a forthcoming probiotic aimed at cognitive and mental health.
Ukko (Tel Aviv, Israel) closed a series B for its AI-based approach to eliminating food allergies and sensitivities. Bayer's corporate venture unit, Leaps by Bayer, led the $40 million round. Other investors included Continental Grain Company, PeakBridge Ventures, Skyviews Life Science, Fall Line Capital, Khosla Ventures, Innovation Endeavors and TIME Ventures. Using a combination of artificial intelligence and bioengineering, Ukko says it can map and alter problematic aspects of a food protein that trigger an allergy. It's developing both functional food ingredients and medical therapeutics.
During an appearance on the TV show Shark Tank, snack brand and NCN past presenter Quevos (Chicago, Illinois) won over guest judge and KIND founder Daniel Lubetzky. He made a deal with the startup reportedly involving a $200,000 investment and another $200,000 as a line of credit. Quevos makes a range of low-carb, egg-white based chips in flavors such as sweet barbecue and sour cream and onion. The chips are sold online and in 1,000 retail outlets.
Funding continues to flow into dairy alternative companies as plant-based milk maker Sproud (Malmo, Sweden) announces a £4.8 million (about $6.6 million) investment from VGC Partners. The startup will use the funding to grow its team, develop its product offerings and build its brand in core markets including the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada. Sproud's line of shelf-stable milk substitutes are made with a blend of pea protein, oils and vitamins. The company launched in 2018 and made its debut in the U.S. and Canada last year.
Cell-based seafood startup BlueNalu (San Diego, California) has $60 million in debt financing to support its work toward launching its cultured mahi — possibly this year. The startup's seafood products are grown from fish cells. BlueNalu says plans are underway to open a pilot production facility, complete its regulatory review with the FDA and begin testing its products in some U.S. foodservice locations. The financing came from Rage Capital, Agronomics, Lewis & Clark AgriFood, McWin, KBW Ventures and Siddhi Capital.
The Modern Milkman (Lancashire, England), which delivers fresh groceries from local suppliers to customers' doors in returnable and reusable packaging, has raised £5 million (about $6.9 million) from ETF Partners. Though it began as a local milk delivery service, the startup has expanded to include other farm-fresh groceries such as juice, eggs, butter, bread and produce. Users order through the website or app for next-day delivery. With the funding, Modern Milkman hopes to grow its sustainable grocery service across the U.K.
Smith & Vandiver Corp. (Watsonville, California), a contract manufacturer for natural beauty and personal care products, has been acquired by San Francisco Equity Partners for an undisclosed price. Better known as SV Labs, the company works with its customers—including CPG companies, emerging natural brands, online sellers and national retailers—on R&D, formulation, manufacturing, packaging and more. SFEP says it will offer the "nimble" and "innovative" company operational and strategic support as it continues to scale. Other beauty brands in SFEP's portfolio include Japonesque, Yes To and Jane Iredale.
Unnamed investors in Canada and Asia led a CA$3.7 million (about US$2.9 million) financing round for past NCN presenter Entomo Farms (Norwood, Ontario, Canada). Founded by a trio of brothers in 2014, the company supplies sustainable protein alternatives in the form of cricket powders and whole roasted insects to dozens of brands and food companies. Entomo Farms says it's expanding its facilities to meet growing demand and plans to launch a new consumer brand this year.
Disclaimer: NCN does not warrant the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of any NCN news item. Before relying on any NCN News item the information should be independently verified.
Sign up for NCN News for a monthly perspective of the top funding transactions in health & wellness.
Promising to deliver groceries and other everyday items to customers in as little as 10 minutes, Gorillas (Berlin, Germany) has taken the European market by storm in the 10 months since its founding. Now it’s raised a $290 million series B (following a $44 million series A closed in December) and has its sights set on more international growth.
To help it commercialize a low-cost sugar substitute made from plant fiber, Supplant (Cambridge, England) has completed a $24 million financing round. Manta Ray, Khosla Ventures, Felicis, Soma Capital and Y Combinator participated in the round. Supplant says it will use the funding to begin targeted trial runs of its low-GI sweetener ingredient, which it says is produced with less water and at a lower cost than sugar.
In a new series B round led by Adjuvant Capital, a fund backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other global health investors, Frontier Nutrition (New Haven, Connecticut) has brought in $6 million. The mission-based company makes affordable fortified snacks that are sold in Bangladesh, a country with one of the highest rates of malnutrition in the world.
Muniq (Los Angeles, California), a startup founded by Uplifting Results Labs, has added $8.2 million in series A funding to support its mission to address chronic health conditions by harnessing the power of the gut microbiome. In May, Muniq debuted a line of nutritional shakes with prebiotic resistant starch to help people improve their blood sugar, lose weight and keep their gut bacteria healthy.
A startup that believes its technology is integral in helping the cultured meat market mature has locked in seed funding. Matrix Meats (Columbus, Ohio) was born out of a partnership between Ikove Capital’s Startup Nursery and regenerative medicine company Nanofiber Solutions. It manufactures animal-free nanofiber scaffolds for cultured meat to be grown on.
Egg Innovations (Warsaw, Indiana), a Midwestern purveyor of free-range and pasture-raised eggs, has acquired snack brand Peckish (Sonoma, California). Born last year out of the Sonoma Brands incubator, Peckish packages hard-boiled eggs (supplied by Blue Sky Family Farms, Egg Innovations’ consumer-facing brand) with crispy dips for a high-protein snack with no added sugar.
Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund led a $20 million funding round for Virtual Kitchen (San Francisco, California), a startup that empowers restaurants to focus on delivery and minimize real estate costs. Founded in 2018 by two former Uber executives, Virtual Kitchen provides technology for restaurants to set up virtual or cloud kitchens that are optimized for delivery and don't have dining rooms or storefronts.
With the COVID-19 pandemic driving more U.S. food shoppers online, Barn2Door (Seattle, Washington) sees a big opportunity for farmers. The startup has raised $6 million for its e-commerce software that helps farmers sell food directly to consumers, with functions for managing sales, inventory and logistics.
What if people with food allergies carried a sensor that could detect the presence of allergens in their food? That’s the premise of Allergy Amulet (Lowell, Massachusetts), which announced a $3.3 million seed round led by Titletown Tech, a partnership between the Green Bay Packers and Microsoft.
Food safety and quality services company FoodChain ID (Fairfield, Iowa) expanded its portfolio with the purchase of Nutraveris (Ploufragan, France). Nutraveris is an AI-based software and services provider that helps supplement, pharmaceutical, personal care and ingredient manufacturers get their products approved and launched.
European investors Creandum and Highland Europe led a $15 million series A for Meditopia (Istanbul, Turkey, and Berlin, Germany), a meditation app built primarily for non-English-speaking markets. The startup works with mental health professionals in different regions of the world to develop mindfulness, meditation and music content that’s specific to different cultures, languages and countries.
Past NCN presenter Kitu Life (New York, New York), which operates the Super Coffee brand, has closed a $25 million financing round led by Skyview Capital. Founded by three brothers in a college dorm room, Super Coffee makes a lineup of ready-to-drink coffee beverages that contain up to 10 grams of protein and are sweetened with monk fruit. It also sells coffee creamer, coffee pods and espresso drinks.
Chocolate bar maker Honey Mama’s (Portland, Oregon), known for its innovative flavors, has completed a $5.8 million fundraise to boost sales, distribution and marketing beyond the natural channel. Founded in 2011, Honey Mama’s crafts truffle-like chocolate bars from raw honey, coconut oil, cocoa powder and other whole-food ingredients.
The husband and wife behind Shaka Tea (Hilo, Hawaii) have $2.3 million of fresh capital to help their company grow. Shaka Tea, a past NCN presenter, taps into Hawaii’s native mamaki plant to power its line of ready-to-drink iced teas, which are sweetened with monk fruit and free of calories, carbs, sugar and caffeine.
Chef-owned and -operated spice company Spiceology (Spokane, Washington) has raised $2 million from investors including media company Cowles Co. and Kickstart Funds III & IV. The capital will help Spiceology ramp up marketing efforts and weather the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, company leaders told a local news outlet.
Mr. Lee’s, a United Kingdom-based instant noodle brand that launched in the United States last month (Santa Monica, California), has raised £1.75 million ($2.2 million on May 4) on the equity crowdfunding platform Seedrs. That brings its total to £6.5 million ($8.1 million on May 4) raised so far in four rounds of fundraising on the platform.
On a mission to replace packaging materials that harm the environment, Vericool (Livermore, California) has raised $19.1 million from Radicle Impact Partners, The Ecosystem Integrity Fund, ID8 Investments and AiiM Partners. Vericool created an alternative to plastic foam coolers that’s made from recycled paper fibers and other plant-based materials.
The food tech company once known as Sustainable Bioproducts is now Nature’s Fynd (Chicago, Illinois), and it’s equipped with $80 million in fresh funding from investors. Grown out of NASA-supported research, Nature’s Fynd used a protein-rich microorganism discovered at Yellowstone National Park to develop a fermentation process that results in a sustainable, animal-free protein containing all nine essential amino acids.
PepsiCo (Harrison, New York) has added to its energy-drink portfolio by acquiring Rockstar Energy (Las Vegas, Nevada) in a $3.85 billion deal that’s expected to close in the first half of the year. PepsiCo has had a distribution deal with Rockstar since 2009. Its current energy drink lineup includes Mountain Dew-branded AMP, Kickstart and GameFuel.
Madhava Foods, a seller of natural sweetener products such as honey, agave and coconut sugar, has acquired organic candy company JJ’s Sweets. The deal between the two Boulder, Colorado-based companies is intended to boost distribution and sales growth for JJ’s and its line of organic, dairy-free coconut caramels called Cocomels.