Better Bite Ventures, a venture capital firm with a focus on backing early stage Asia Pacific (APAC) startups in the alternative protein sector, has announced the launch of a $15 million fund. Better Bite’s mission is to support early-stage founders developing crucial climate-friendly alternatives to animal-based proteins in what it describes as the ‘world’s largest food market.’
To date, Better Bite has invested in 10 regional startups spanning the gamut of alt protein technology, from plant-based to cellular agriculture. So far, the fund has shown a keen eye for choosing early winners, with portfolio companies TiNDLE and Change Foods showing impressive scale and results in a relatively short period of time.
Better Bite is the first VC fund dedicated to both APAC-only founders and alternative protein companies exclusively. The fund attracted backing from individual impact investors, growth stage fund managers and entrepreneurs from around the world and deployment is primarily allocated to pre-seed and seed stage rounds.
According to a recent Boston Consulting Group study, the global alt protein market could reach more than $290 billion by 2035, approximately 11 percent of the total protein market, of which two-thirds is predicted to be consumed in the APAC region.
Non-profit the Good Food Institute published data showing that over $3 billion was invested into alt protein startups in 2020, with APAC startups accounting for over $230 million. 2021 figures are estimated to show even more growth.
“Asia Pacific has the potential to become a hotbed of alternative protein unicorns. The launch of the first fund dedicated to APAC alternative protein startups is an encouraging symbol of changing times,” said Mirte Gosker, Acting Managing Director of GFI APAC in a statement to Green Queen.
Backed by operational expertise
Better Bite’s founding partners Michal Klar and Simon Newstead are both plant-based lifestyle enthusiasts and longtime entrepreneurs with decades-long track records in investing and venture building. They are passionate about giving a new generation of APAC founders the support and early backing they need.
“We’re here to invest in bold founders building Asia’s future food-tech unicorns,” Klar said. “Now is the time for Asia – we believe home-grown companies with local insights will take a leading role in this rapidly growing market”.
Both Klar and Newstead are experienced operators and scalers. Klar was an early employee at European eCom marketplace Allegro, helping to grow it into Poland’s first tech unicorn, which was subsequently acquired by South African investment group Naspers, where Klar helped scale South East Asian startups. Various operational roles across the region followed. Newstead is the founder of Hong Kong-based mobile game company Frenzoo, which counts over 30 million downloads, as well as APAC vegan chocolate company Bite Society.
The duo says their founder-friendly approach differentiates them from a host of new food tech funds.
“Having been founders ourselves, we know how helpful having truly supportive investors can be,” Newstead said. “Being responsive with founder-friendly terms, a lack of red tape and a focus on long term sustainability, we aim to be a trusted partner right from the start”.
“Better Bite were our first check and also helped behind the scenes with our successful follow on round,“ said Esha Saxena, co-founder of Australian headquartered human milk cell-based startup Me&. “Simon & Michal aren’t afraid to back ambitious projects even at idea stage”.
Green Queen Media founder & editor-in-chief Sonalie Figueiras also joins the team as Venture Partner. “Having known Michal and Simon in the space for years, I know how switched on and impact-driven they are,” she said.
Strong regional representation
The launch portfolio for Better Bite is a diverse mix of alt protein technologies with molecular farming, biomass and precision fermentation, plant-based and cell-based interests all represented. Portfolio companies are located across the region, with many in recognized food tech hubs, including China (CellX and Blue Canopy), Singapore (Meatiply and Umami Meats), Indonesia (Green Rebel Foods) and Australia (Fable Food Co and Me&).
Founders working with Better Bite are enthusiastic about Klar and Newstead’s support.
“We had a great experience in our pre-seed round – the team was super responsive, flexible and friendly” said Chenfeng Lu, co-founder of China fermentation startup Blue Canopy, with Green Rebel’s co-founder Helga Angelina sharing that “having their support and advice has really helped as we’ve grown and are now expanding internationally”.
Portfolio success stories
A few of Better Bite’s early bets have accomplished significant milestones of late. Australian-Californian startup Change Foods has just announced a seed extension to the tune of $12 million, bringing the precision fermentation dairy disrupter’s round total to $15.3 million. In addition, the company announced strategic partnerships with food giants Upfield and Sigma.
Singapore-based Next Gen Foods is a major APAC success story, having just closed a record-breaking $100 million Series A round, the largest such round of a plant-based meat company globally, let alone one by a company less than 18 months old. In additiona, the company’s shared that its flagship alt chicken brand TiNDLE is launching across the U.S. market.
Disclaimer: Green Queen founder and editor-in-chief Sonalie Figueiras is an advisor to Better Bites Ventures.
Lead image: Better Bite Ventures co-founders Simon Newstead (L) and Michal Klar (R).