First Bite: APAC Initiative Backing Future Food Founders Choose 4 Alt Protein Startups
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APAC alt protein fund Better Bite Ventures unveils four new investments via early-stage funding initiative First Bite and reopens applications for aspiring founders.
First Bite, a startup initiative created that backs early founders working on innovative solutions to Asia Pacific’s food system challenges, has chosen four startups as it opens application for more ideas.
First Bite was first launched in late 2022 by VC fund Better Bite Ventures. According to its website page, the idea is to “support fresh and aspiring founders at the very beginning of their startup journey” with an initial funding injection of $50,000 to ” help their projects get off the ground.”
“APAC is the world’s largest and fastest-growing protein market. We believe innovative startups are key to making the region’s food system more sustainable and resilient, and we want to support as many exceptional founders as possible,” said Michal Klar, Founding Partner of Better Bite Ventures in a statement.
“Founders often think it’s too early to approach us when they’re just starting with an innovative idea. In reality, there’s no such thing as too early—we want to talk to and support founders right from the start of their journey,” add Founding Partner Simon Newstead.
In order to qualify for First Bite, aspiring founders had to meet the following criteria: be working on meat, seafood, dairy or egg replacements using plant-based, fermentation, cultivated or molecular farming technology, be based in the APAC region and be at the idea or just-started phase.
Better Bite received many applications from eight countries and selected four teams from across the region working on solutions across a range of food system challenges.
Singapore-based Allium Bio, co-founded by entrepreneur Jon Ho and biochemistry PhD Albertus Sarwono, previously a researcher at A*STAR, is a young startup working on co-culturing microalgae and mycelium to turn into functional ingredients such as protein isolate.
EatKinda (New Zealand) is a plant-based dairy company making ice cream from cauliflower in New Zealand. The startup, which was started by food technologist Mrinali Kumar and vegan chef Jenni Matheson makes use of cosmetically imperfect vegetables that would otherwise go to waste.
Also out of Singapore, stealth entrant Cultivaer, whose founders hold PhDs in bioengineering and food science, is developing novel bioreactor-free technology that it says could significantly reduce costs and accelerate the scalability of fermentation-derived alt proteins.
Rounding out the quartet is Klevermeat, India’s self-proclaimed first cultivated seafood startup co-founded by serial entrepreneur Nithin Shetty and cell biology PhD Swapnil Kamble. The duo wants to bring more sustainable choices in the country’s seafood industry.
“We’re just getting started, and our goal is to make a significant positive impact on the food system by partnering with others in the food ecosystem. Having Better Bite Ventures as an early investor helps to unlock new connections around the globe and in our own backyard here in APAC.” said Jon Ho, co-founder of Allium Bio.
Better Bite Ventures is a venture capital fund focused on backing early-stage Asia Pacific alternative protein startups. To date, Better Bite is the only dedicated sector fund in the region, which the fund describes as ‘world’s largest food market.’
The fund, which launched in early 2022 with $15 million in assets under management, typically invests between $200,000 and $700,000 in pre-seed and seed rounds across food tech verticals such as cellular agriculture, precision fermentation and plant-based. To date, Better Bite is the only dedicated sector fund in the region.
Klar and Newstead* are both former founders themselves and are known for their entrepreneur-first approach.
“Having been founders ourselves, we know how helpful having truly supportive investors can be,” Newstead told Green Queen when they launched the fund. “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”.
Klar is a regular presence at industry conferences around the world and is the author of the popular industry Substack newsletter Future Food Asia, where he shares sector insight, analysis and trends. He recently wrote about what’s happening with plant-based meat sales and with alt protein funding.
Better Bite has invested in 20 companies so far across all alt protein technology verticals including US precision fermentation dairy maker Change Foods, Indonesian plant-based meat leader Green Rebel, Australian cell-based breast milk maker Me&, China cultivated meat player CellX and Indian plant protein startup Greenest. Early successes include Singaporean-headquartered Next Gen Foods, maker of TiNDLE plant-based chicken, in less than 3 years raised over 130 million and scaled across 8 countries.
Applications for aspiring First Bite founders are now open until May 19th, apply here.
*Disclaimer: Green Queen’s Sonalie Figueiras is a Venture Partner at Better Bite Ventures.