Wild Type, a startup developing cultured salmon (that is, fish grown from cells outside the animal), announced today that it had raised a $12.5 million Series A funding round. The round was led by CRV with participation from Maven Ventures, Spark Capital and Root Ventures, the last two of which had previously invested in Wild Type. This would bring the total amount of funding raised by the company to $16 million.
Founded in 2016, Wild Type currently has a team of 16. We spoke with co-founders Justin Kolbeck and Aryé Elfenbein last week to learn more about how the San Francisco-based startup will leverage their funding. According to Kolbeck, who serves as CEO, their first priority is to continue improving the taste of their product and get it into “as many talented hands and palates as possible.”
Wild Type has been doing quite a few private tastings lately, culminating in a tasting in Portland, Oregon this June. The startup can currently only make minced salmon and small lox-like pieces of the fish, but hopes to work its way up to full-size filets.
Kolbeck also wants to use the new funds to scale up their cell-based fish production. He told me their goal was to be able to supply a handful of restaurants on a regular basis. This would also drive down production costs. When I spoke to him after the tasting event in Portland, Kolbeck disclosed that one of their salmon sushi rolls would cost $200. Their goal is to get it down to $5 to make it accessible to as many people as possible.
Cell-based meat and seafood companies have been attracting waves of funding lately, but Wild Type’s Series A is a whopper — especially in the cellular aquaculture space. “In terms of later stage funding for cell-based companies, it’s been more focused on poultry and meat,” said Kolbeck. “This is a Series A in the seafood space, which is interesting.” Indeed, cultured seafood companies like BlueNalu and Finless Foods have raised $4.5 million and raised $3.5 million seed rounds, respectively. Earlier this year Shiok Meats, which grows shrimp in a lab, closed a $4.6 million seed round. But Wild Type is the first cell-based seafood company to reel in such hefty funding.
Kolbeck still was hesitant to give a specific date for when they would bring their product to market. But with this new funding in hand, we’re all one step closer to having cell-based salmon sushi on our plates.