Singapore-based food tech Next Gen has closed US$10 million in a funding round, setting a global record for the largest seed financing to date within the plant-based startup industry. The startup says that the financing will go towards the launch of its consumer-facing plant-based chicken brand, as well as further R&D to expand its product portfolio.
Next Gen has bagged US$10 million in a global record-breaking seed financing round for the plant-based industry, according to PitchBook data, the company announced today (February 25). The funding was led by a number of major Asian investors, including Singapore sovereign fund Temasek, K3 Ventures and New Ventures, the venture capital arm of the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), with participation from NX Food, FEBE Ventures, Blue Horizon and Better Bite Ventures.
The Singapore-headquartered startup says that the capital will go towards launching its consumer brand plant-based chicken alternatives brand TiNDLE, which will launch in Singapore in March 2021 via foodservice and distributed by Classic Fine Foods. Next Gen also plans to launch into neighbouring Asian cities, as well as use the funds to fuel its ongoing R&D to develop more plant-based products.
Next Gen’s latest capital injection comes shortly after the startup, co-founded by Timo Recker and Andre Menezes, launched with founder capitalisation of US$2.2 million in October 2020. The co-founders are veterans in the industry, with CEO Recker having previously created LikeMeat, which was sold to LIVEKINDLY Collective, and COO Menezes formerly managing Country Foods Singapore, one of the companies behind Impossible Foods’ distribution across Southeast Asia.
Recker says that the record-breaking seed round underlines the bullish investment sentiment for the plant-based industry and the potential for Next Gen to become a key player in Asia’s burgeoning alternative protein space, which has seen surging demand as consumers continue to shift towards healthier, sustainable and ethical proteins.
Raising more than our initial US$7 million target is a strong validation of our team, our technology, our business model, our fantastic product, and our expansion strategy.Timo Recker, Co-Founder & CEO, Next Gen
Over 2020, alternative protein startups based in Asia-Pacific collectively raised more than US$230 million, a dramatic uptick as investors increasingly begin to take note of the huge opportunities for growth in key Asian markets.
“The exceptional response from our investors, raising more than our initial US$7 million target, is a strong validation of our team, our technology, our business model, our fantastic product, and our expansion strategy,” said Recker in a statement.
When asked why the startup had been able to raise such a seed prior to launch, Menezes told Green Queen Media that investors now “recognise the need for a transformation in the food and meat industry [and] additionally, our experienced team and asset-lite business model allow us to enter the market and scale our business quickly.”
Looking ahead, the company has plans to raise its Series A funding within the next one or two years to fuel its product diversification and its entry into the European and U.S. markets, the latter of which it is “already laying the groundwork” for by recruiting a growth director to lead its distribution network with foodservice restaurants and chefs.
Not only does TiNDLE Thy deliver the quality, versatility, and cookability, it also delivers the full taste experience consumers seek.Jean Madden, CMO, Next Gen
For now, the first product that will be rolling out under its TiNDLE brand is a 100% plant-based chicken thigh analogue dubbed “TiNDLE Thy”, which the firm says can be incorporated into a wide range of cuisines and applications, including Chinese, Indian and Middle Eastern dishes.
“TiNDLE Thy will first be available in some truly great restaurants across Singapore. With TiNDLE Thy we want to deliver a fantastic culinary experience, made from sustainable food,” commented Menezes.
Speaking to Green Queen Media, Menezes explained that the brand’s name TiNDLE was a “nod to John Tyndall,” who discovered the molecular basis of the greenhouse effect. “Associating our brand name to John Tyndall’s work is important as we firmly believe that sustainability is the future of the food industry,” he said.
With TiNDLE Thy we want to deliver a fantastic culinary experience, made from sustainable food.Andre Menezes, Co-Founder & COO, Next Gen
“Not only does TiNDLE Thy deliver the quality, versatility, and cookability, it also delivers the full taste experience consumers seek,” added Jean Madden, chief marketing officer at Next Gen. “This unique combination, along with Next Gen’s brand development and marketing capabilities, aligns TiNDLE to meet the global opportunity for plant based chicken.”
The startup is laser-focused on food service and the F&B industry. “TiNDLE was developed with chefs and for chefs,” explained Menedez in conversation with Green Queen Media.
At the time of Next Gen’s launch in October 2020, the startup revealed to us that in the longer term, after launching in key cities across Asia-Pacific, it will start to introduce retail lines as well.
All images courtesy of Next Gen / TiNDLE.