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News for June 10, 2020

Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

Shaka raises $2.3M for Hawaiian-inspired RTD tea

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. The company also has a line of bagged tea blends made with mamaki. More than 3,700 stores in the U.S. carry its products. With the new funding, the brand will support its recent launch into The Fresh Market, GNC and the Southern Pacific region of Whole Foods Market, as well as build out its direct-to-consumer selling capabilities. The recent round was led by Mahi Pono, with additional funding from King’s Hawaiian, Gingerbread Capital, LDR Ventures, Allison Rose Culinary Ventures, Park Bench Capital and several angel investors. In the four years since its founding, Shaka Tea has raised a total of $4.1 million.


Apeel picks up $250M to cut food waste from the supply chain

With a new $250 million round of capital, Apeel Sciences (Santa Barbara, California) will build on its operations and join up with big growers in Africa, Central America and South America to help them fight food waste. Apeel’s big pitch is that its proprietary plant-based coating for produce can slow water loss and oxidation, improving the shelf life of fruits and vegetables. It has shown to work with avocados, asparagus, lemons and limes. The round was led by Singapore’s state-owned investment company GIC with participation from Viking Global Investors, Upfront Ventures, Tao Capital Partners and Rock Creek Group. Since starting up eight years ago with a $100,000 grant from the Gates Foundation, Apeel has reeled in some $360 million in financing from investors including Upfront Ventures, S2G Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and PowerPlant Ventures.


Celebrities back vegan seafood brand Good Catch

Five months after closing a $32 million Series B round, Gathered Foods-owned Good Catch (New York, New York) announced a new cohort of celebrity investors. Combined with the Series B, investments from Woody Harrelson, Shailene Woodley, Paris Hilton and Lass Bass will help fuel international expansion as consumer demand for protein alternatives continues to soar, Good Catch says. The brand sells its plant-based tuna, burgers and crab cakes in more than 4,500 retail stores in the United States and the United Kingdom.


Swedish startup making vegan protein from fungi attracts $1.4M

Fungi protein startup Mycorena (Gothenburg, Sweden) has closed a €1.2 million ($1.3 million on May 20) funding round from FBG Invest, Bertebos Foundation, Falkenbergs Sparbanks Foundation, Bånt AB, Expand Research B.V., Kale United AB and investors from GlassWall Syndicate. Mycorena says its Promyc ingredient, which contains 60% protein and 12% fiber, has a neutral taste with a meat-like texture and is intended to be used in vegan food products. Its production has a lower environmental impact than animal or plant-based alternatives such as soy, the company says. With the new funding, Mycorena will open a small-scale industrial facility in Falkenberg, Sweden.

Investors pump $80M into Chinese fitness training app

At-home workouts are having a moment. The Chinese fitness app Keep (Beijing, China), which just closed an $80 million Series E, is also having one. Since 2014, Keep has grown from its roots as an online fitness training program to become a seller of fitness equipment and apparel, including its own treadmills and stationary bikes. In 2018, it opened a gym called Keepland. The Keep app’s user base reportedly grew more than 23% year-over-year in the first quarter of 2020, after the company was said to have laid off 15% of its workforce last fall. The series E follows a $126 million series D closed in July 2018 and was led by Jeneration Capital with participation from GGV Capital, Tencent, Morningside Venture Capital and Bertelsmann Asia Investments.


Raising mealworms for animal feed nets Beta Hatch $3M

Cavallo Ventures (the venture capital arm of Wilbur-Ellis), Innova Memphis, Klein Private Equity Investment and Brighton Jones Investment Partners have invested $3 million in Beta Hatch (Cashmere, Washington). With the goal to industrialize insect farming for sustainable animal feed, Beta Hatch has developed a technology that converts mealworms and their waste into proteins, oils and nutrients for animal feed and crop fertilizer. The company plans to use the funds to build a commercial mealworm production facility and continue developing its technology. So far, it’s raised $5 million in total equity and has received $4.6 million in state and federal funding.


Cellular ag startup IntegriCulture raises $7.4M

A new ¥800 million ($7.4 million on May 20) series A round will boost IntegriCulture (Tokyo, Japan) as it continues working on its cell-based development platform that can be applied to cosmetics, supplements and cell-based meat. It’s also prepping for the launch of its first products, lab-grown foie gras and an anti-aging skin care product. The round included participation from AgFunder, Beyond Next Ventures, Hiroshima Venture Capital, NH Foods, Real Tech Fund and VU Venture Partners.


$12M series A supports Good Planet Foods’ plant-based growth

Good Planet Foods (Bellevue, Washington)— maker of plant-based sliced and shredded cheese alternatives that are free of GMOs, dairy and gluten—has closed a $12 million series A. Cleveland Avenue led the round, joined by GreatPoint Ventures, Tasseo Consumer, Stray Dog Capital and Lever VC. Vegan cheese is one of the fastest-growing categories in the broader plant-based foods market. Good Planet’s products are sold in retail stores nationwide including Walmart, Costco, Wegmans, ShopRIte, Safeway and Whole Foods. White Castle also puts its meltable slices on top of the Impossible Foods patty.


Rowdy Mermaid rounds up $7M to fuel ‘triple-digit sales growth’

Rowdy Mermaid (Boulder, Colorado) has closed the second and final tranche of its series A investment round, bringing in a total of $7 million. The round, led by KarpReilly, will support creation of an e-commerce platform and continued retail expansion for Rowdy Mermaid’s line of function-focused kombuchas packaged in 100% recyclable cans. Rowdy Mermaid says it’s experienced at least double-digit growth every year since its founding in 2013 and is expecting triple-digit sales growth this year as it expands into new markets. Its newest flavor, Watermelon Bloom, will launch in retail stores this month.


Grow-your-own-food company Rise Garden secures seed funding

True Ventures led a $2.6 million seed funding round for Rise Gardens (Chicago, Illinois), a startup making indoor hydroponic gardening systems. Its home garden kit comprises a shelving unit, hardware, plant pods, growing supplies and an app to remind users when they should water their plants. The startup launched last year, and leadership says sales have increased dramatically since shelter-in-place orders began.


Ready Nutrition adds NBA star to investor lineup

Milwaukee Bucks star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo put six figures of his own money behind Ready Nutrition (Wexford, Pennsylvania), maker of whey protein bars, powders and water, as well as energy drinks. He’ll also get an ownership stake in the nutrition company. Another athlete, Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, became the company’s first investor in November. According to its founder, the 8-year-old company is poised to bring in $100 million this year. Ready Nutrition sells its products in 8,000 stores across the country.


Dishcraft Robotics raises $20 million to outsource doing the dishes

Tech-powered cleaning service Dishcraft Robotics (San Carlos, California) has closed a new investment round led by new investor Grit Ventures, with participation from First Round Capital, Baseline Ventures, Fuel Capital and Lemnos. With $20 million in new funding, the company will take its dish-cleaning services beyond corporate kitchens and into restaurants, as well as expand its cleaning facility. Discraft Robotics picks up, cleans and returns reusable dishware and cutlery to these businesses. Behind the scenes, it uses an intricate network of sensors, computer vision, machine learning and UV light to sort, clean and inspect dishware. So far, the company has raised $46 million in venture funding.


Iceland’s Good Good gets $3M to bring keto spreads to the U.S.

The keto trend is still going strong, and Good Good (Reykjavik, Iceland) is hoping to strengthen its foothold in the U.S. market with help from a $3 million series A. Both American and European investors participated in the round, including Icepharma, Aton.JL and Svanhildur Nanna Vigfusdottir. Good Good began in 2015 making natural sweeteners, then expanded into sugar-free fruit jam and chocolate hazelnut spread. With the funding, it will launch keto-friendly jam, syrup, chocolate spreads and bars in the U.S.


NextProtein’s $11.2M series A will scale up insect protein production

A group of investors has pulled together a €10.2 million (about $11.2 million) series A for Insect protein startup NextProtein (Paris, France). Blue Oceans Partners, Telos Impact and RAISE Impact led the round. Other investors included Mirova, Althelia Sustainable Ocean Fund, Kepple Africa Ventures and Aucfan Incubate Inc. NextProtein uses organic produce that would be wasted to raise black soldier fly larvae for animal feed and fertilizer. This uses significantly less land, energy and water than production of traditional protein sources like beef and soy, the company claims. Its current product lineup includes protein powder for farmed fish, poultry, pigs and pets. With the new investment, NextProtein will be able to add a second production facility, hire more staff and accelerate R&D.


Syngenta backs precision spray ag tech startup Greeneye

As farmers face pressure from regulators to cut down on the chemicals they use on their crops, startup Greeneye has developed a solution. Greeneye’s platform leverages camera sensors and artificial intelligence to help farmers detect and spray weeds (and only weeds) in real time. This precision method can dramatically reduce a farmer’s herbicide usage. The promising technology has been noticed by Syngenta Ventures, which participated in a $7M seed round led by Jerusalem Venture Partners. 2B Angels, One Way Ventures, Panache Ventures, Techstarts and Hyperplane Venture Capital also participated.



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