Female-founded food tech Orbillion Bio recently raised US$5M in its seed round for the development of its cruelty-free lab-grown alternatives to ‘heritage meats’ like wagyu beef, elk, sheep, and American bison.
Silicon Valley-based Orbillion Bio closed its oversubscribed round with support from Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, biotech industry experts, and European deep tech investors like One Ventures who have also invested in Climax Foods, Finless Foods and Wild Earth; Metaplanet Holdings; European Nucleus Capital (invested in Hoxton Farms); and FoundersX Ventures (SpaceX investors).
The company received further support from Prithi Ventures who have invested in Mission Barns and Turtle Tree Labs; Outset Capital; Quiet Capital; Beresford Ventures; DVC; and angel investors like CEO of Hanmi Pharmaceuticals, Jonghoon Lim; Kris Corzine; CEO of the first biotech PBC, Perlara, Ethan Perlstein; along with a university endowment.
Orbillion Bio will use the funds received in this round to reduce its production costs and introduce its first product- fine Wagyu beef through a pilot phase in the market.
Founded by CEO Dr. Patricia Bubner along with CTO Dr. Gabriel Levesque-Tremblay and COO Samet Yildirim, the company is backed by Y Combinator (YC) that is behind the launch of popular tech firms like Stripe, DoorDash and Airbnb, marking the first time the accelerator has invested in cell-cultured red meat.
In a prior interview with Green Queen, Bubner discussed the company’s process and why it stands out from other similar competitors in the market. “Our advanced bioprocessing enables us to rapidly isolate, screen and select cells that are best suited for commercial-scale food production. This allows us to move from sample to finished product 5x faster than other companies.”
Speaking about the overwhelming response at the company’s first public tasting event where it presented its cultured wagyu beef, wild elk and sheep, in a press release seen by Green Queen, Bubner, said: “Going into Demo Day, I actually felt pretty confident since our first tasting had gone so well the week before, But even I could not have anticipated the wave of interest that was about to hit. To me, that provided even further validation of not just the immense untapped market potential here, but also of our specific approach of prioritizing flavor and rapid scale-up above all else.”
Going into Demo Day, I actually felt pretty confident since our first tasting had gone so well the week before, But even I could not have anticipated the wave of interest that was about to hit. To me, that provided even further validation of not just the immense untapped market potential here, but also of our specific approach of prioritizing flavor and rapid scale-up above all elseDr. Patricia Bubner, Co-Founder & CEO, Orbillion Bio
The public tasting along with the company being presented at Y Combinator’s Demo Day attracted the attention of top-tier investors leading to an oversubscribed funding round.
Ex-GoogleX co-founder and managing partner at At One Ventures, Tom Chi, said: “This has the potential to both address the higher end of the marketplace as well as the possibility of biodiversity wins from lessened pressure on game animals.”
Furthermore, the company’s advisory board features high-profile food and food-tech experts like Ron Shigeta (ex-IndieBio), Guy Crims (Master Wagyu Butcher at Niku Steakhouse) and Caio Malufe (ex-Cargill).
“We love to see teams that are focused on the right things, and Orbillion is a great example. They’re completely focused on the flavor and the science. We’re excited for the future they’re building”, said Ali Rohde, GP at Outset Capital, an early-stage venture fund he co-manages.
Speaking to Green Queen, Bubner confirmed that Orbillion was focused on launching in the U.S. market first, adding that “our go to market will be via high-end restaurants and retailers before slashing the price and making our products available for everyone, which is the goal of course!” When asked about a timeline, she said that they “plan on our first product release in 2023.”
Cell-based meats are having a moment around the world, for instance, recently, Dutch cultivated meat startup, Meatable secured US$47 million in its financing round that will help expand the brand’s portfolio by adding cell-based beef to its production and another Silicon Valley food tech, Mission Barns raised US$24 million that will be used for constructing its Bay Area-based cell-based fat pilot manufacturing facility.
Apart from meats, companies are working to develop cruelty-free cell-based alternatives for F&B, skincare, and medical industries like North Carolina-based startup, Jellatech closed its US$2 million pre-seed round that will help launch its animal-free collagen and gelatin ingredient samples for these sectors.
Elsewhere, the first and North American company Cultured Decadence dedicated to creating lobster and shellfish from fish cells secured US$1.6 million to launch its products in the market.
Lead image courtesy of Orbillion Bio.