The week’s big news is a $350 million Series D raise by precision fermentation unicorn Perfect Day. There’s a whole lot packed into this announcement, so let’s get right to it:
First, the funding raises Perfect Day’s total to $750 million and sets the company on track for a possible IPO. The timing couldn’t be better, as tech startups continue to see rising valuations and the market is hungry for more food tech (see Oatly). And while Ginkgo Bioworks was the first company with significant precision fermentation (PF) capabilities to IPO, Perfect Day will be the first true future food PF pure-play to go public.
As part of the news, the company announced an expansion of its consumer products company, the Urgent Company (TUC). TUC, Perfect Day’s wholly-owned CPG company behind the Brave Robot ice cream brand, will add new “household staples” to its portfolio with Modern Kitchen, the second consumer brand under the TUC umbrella. Modern Kitchen’s first product will be dairy-free cream cheese, which the company will make with its animal-identical whey. As part of the announcement, TUC revealed Brave Robot is now in 5 thousand stores and that they’ve moved a million pints of ice cream.
Speaking of Brave Robot, it always struck me as a risky choice for a product name. Sure it stands out, but Brave Robot also doesn’t exactly make one think of tasty ice cream, which I think is the biggest challenge for a product that also wants to somehow communicate to the consumer it is made differently from traditional ice cream. With Modern Kitchen, I have to wonder if Perfect Day went purposefully conservative, choosing a brand this time around that doesn’t create extra work for itself.
Perfect Day also announced their third line of business (the other two being ingredient innovation and consumer products) in enterprise biology scale-up services. This move is a formalization of its enterprise biology efforts that started with the company’s 2020 acquisition of bioprocess scale-up facility SBF. With its new business line, Perfect Day hopes to help other food companies with technology transfer and scale-up consulting services.
“We first got into the ingredient business because food companies, big and small, were eager to work with the ingredients we had successfully scaled,” said Perumal Gandhi, Perfect Day co-founder, in the news release. “Today, something analogous is happening on the technology side. There are innovators all over the world with ideas and ambitions similar to our animal-free milk protein, but need help getting there. We’re standing up business models to be able to share our demonstrated capabilities in a way that maximizes upsides for all, yet ensures that Perfect Day remains at the forefront of our new industry.”
What struck me about the series of announcements is they illustrate how Perfect Day has matured in both its business and how it talks about itself. The addition of business services not only adds a new revenue line to the company, but it is a strategically savvy move that will set Perfect Day up with a pipeline of long-term IP licensing and ingredient supplier opportunities.
On the company messaging front, it wasn’t all that long ago that Perfect Day struggled to describe its technology and the animal-free dairy products that resulted from it. That’s changed, however, as this announcement brims with confidence. The company has clearly figured out how to communicate the benefits of its product while also giving just the right touch of details around the technology behind it all.
And now, the rest of this week’s funding news:
New Age Meats – $25 Million: California-based New Age Meats has raised a $25 million series A to help fund product development and ramp up production of its pork sausage products. Founded in 2018, the company hopes to bring its products to market next year as it uses the funds to double its workforce and build a first pilot production plant.
Ghost Kitchens/Virtual Restaurants
All Day Kitchens – $65 Million: Ghost kitchen startup All Day Kitchens announced this last week they’ve raised a $65 million series D to expand its distributed network of satellite kitchens. The company, which launched in 2018, focuses on helping small independent restaurants expand their reach via a unique model; Unlike traditional ghost kitchens with often treat restaurants like a landlord, All Day Kitchens helps to launch its new restaurant partners across its entire network of kitchens in a given metro area.
Ripple – $60 Million: Pea-protein alt-dairy specialist Ripple has raised a $60 million Series E. Ripple, which basically is to pea milk what Oatly is to oat dairy products, has continued to grow its products ever since its 2015 debut and plans to use the funding to expand into even more new products and markets. While not all pea-protein products from Ripple have succeeded – see our review of the pretty-bad and now discontinued Ripple yogurt here – I’m intrigued to see what new products they bring to market (well, of course, except maybe yogurt).
Avo – $45 Million: Israel-based food delivery startup has raised a $45 million Series B. Avo, which offers white-label food and consumer products delivery to landlords and employers, says it plans to use the funding to expand into 10 new metro markets over the next year. From the release: Avo’s mission is to deliver everything from groceries and alcohol to electronics and personal care items to millions of people daily. The company’s customizable amenity platform enables residential and commercial customers to obtain everyday items, the same day, without any minimum order size or incurring any delivery fees of any kind. The platform also excludes a tipping fee, as Avo has a full-time salaried team. Stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, Avo is currently adding a new major market every month – a dramatic increase in growth that has helped drive revenue 1000% over the past two years.
HUNGRY – $21 Million: Chef-powered catering delivery company HUNGRY has raised a $21 million Series C from a mix of athletes, reality TV talent show singers, and the usual mix of corporate venture capital funds. The company, which lets companies cater food from chefs, works with a variety of high-profile chefs such as Tom Colicchi and has claimed it allows chefs to earn up to half a million per year on the HUNGRY platform.
Swiggy – Half a $Bil?: Indian food delivery startup Swiggy is reportedly in talks to raise a $500-$600 million funding round that would value the company at one Oatly ($10 billion). Invesco will likely lead, while others like Softbank will also throw in capital.
10 Minutes Grocery Delivery
Gorillas – $950 Million: Gorillas, the fast-growing, fast-grocery delivery business has raised an eye-popping $950 billion in funding. The news comes even as the company has reportedly decided to stop monkeying around with a US expansion, at least for the time being. According to Business Insider Germany, Gorillas has decided to scale back its US expansion plans outside of New York City and is laying off employees beyond the Big Apple. This funding comes in large part from Delivery Hero as Gorillas continues expansion in as Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain, and France.
Hooked – €3.8 Million: Sweden’s Hooked has raised €3.8 Million for its plant-based fish products. Like many new alt-protein funding rounds nowadays, Hooked’s with news of a celebrity backer, Swedish music star Danny Saucedo. The company launched its plant-based tuna brand Toonish into retail last month in the Swedish market.
Piestro – $4.7 Million: Piestro, a maker of robotic pizza-making kiosks, has raised just under $4.7 million via equity crowdfunding. The campaign, which the Wavemaker Labs portfolio company ran using StartEngine, will be used to fund the second-generation Piestro, which will be the first pizza robot from the company to be deployed in consumer-facing locations and take payments. The company hopes to have its new prototype deployed by December of this year. Wavemaker Labs, which describes itself as a “robotics and automation corporate innovation studio”, has shown a preference for using platforms such as StartEngine and SeedInvest to raise funds with its portfolio companies like Piestro, Miso Robotics, Future Acres and Bobacino.