Chilean food tech NotCo has achieved unicorn status, after its latest star-studded $235 million Series D round. The round, led by Tiger Global, saw world-renowned athletes Lewis Hamilton and Roger Federer hungry for the startup’s AI-enabled plant-based products. NotCo says the funds will be used to expand globally, double down on the U.S. market and scale its tech.
NotCo, the Chilean food tech making plant-based alternatives using AI, has announced a $235 Series D round. It brings the company’s valuation to $1.5 billion, making it the first Chilean company to achieve unicorn status. The Series D was led by American investment firm Tiger Global, and joined by ZOMA Lab and DFJ Growth Fund.
Notably, British F1 champion Lewis Hamilton, tennis legend Roger Federer, and musician and DJ Questlove also invested in NotCo. Existing investors including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ investment arm Bezos Expeditions, Future Positive and L Catterton, among others, participated as well.
The news comes shortly after the startup’s CEO and co-founder Matias Muchnick set his sights on making his company a unicorn earlier this year in March.
Expanding NotCo’s patented AI
NotCo says that the funds will help expand and improve Giuseppe, the company’s patented AI platform. Giuseppe uses machine learning algorithms to search for the best plant-based replacements for animal proteins. It’s behind NotCo’s range of vegan milk, mayonnaise, ice cream and burgers—and is the reason why its ingredient list features unique plants like cabbage and pineapple juice.
“Our patented A.I. gives us a significant competitive advantage due to the speed and accuracy with which we’re able to develop and bring new products to market,” commented Muchnick.
Our patented A.I. gives us a significant competitive advantage.Matias Muchnick, CEO & Co-Founder, NotCo
By scaling Giuseppe, NotCo plans to unlock new product categories, creating more alternatives to animal products. It claims to be the only company so far to be simultaneously tackling all three animal product categories—dairy, eggs and meat.
“We all share the same vision for Giuseppe’s ability to catapult plant-based foods into mainstream adoption at a rapid pace by focusing on taste, sustainability, and infiltrating multiple categories at once,” said the CEO.
Launching in Europe and Asia
The fresh capital will also help NotCo expand internationally. It entered the U.S. market last year and now plans to bring its products into Europe and Asia. NotCo’s next launch will be in Mexico and will be “quickly expanding” to more geographies in the months ahead.
Currently, the company operates in five countries, including Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Colombia, in both retail and foodservice channels. Within the U.S., NotCo has released its dairy alternatives range but has not yet launched its other egg or meat analogues. Plans are now underway to do so, and to continue expanding its point-of-sales to well over 8,000 retail locations within the country.
Series D lead investor Tiger Global believes that NotCo is well-positioned to become a global food tech leader, putting the brand in the same ranks as names like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, especially as more consumers shift to plant-based alternatives. Within the U.S., 92% of first-time buyers of plant-based alternatives during the pandemic said they plan on making their newfound purchases a long-term habit.
“NotCo has created world-class plant-based food products that are rapidly gaining market share,” said Tiger Global partner Scott Shleifer.
“We are excited to partner with Matias and his team. We expect continued product innovation and expansion into new geographies and food categories will fuel high and sustainable growth for years to come.”
All images courtesy of NotCo.