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Next Gen is the startup behind TiNDLE, the plant-based chicken brand that has taken Asia by storm. After debuting in restaurants in Singapore, the company is now taking the brand global, announcing today (May 20) that TiNDLE is launching in three Asian cities simultaneously on June 24th– Hong Kong, Macau and Kuala Lumpur. We had the opportunity to speak to Next Gen’s co-founder and COO Andre Menezes about the brand’s rapid expansion, the secret sauce behind its branding success, and what’s coming next for the food tech.
GQ: How has the chef response been since you launched TiNDLE?
AM: The response from the chefs in Singapore has been extremely positive. Our plant-based Chicken, TiNDLE is created with chefs and for chefs and they love it.
TiNDLE’s versatility and ease of use across cuisines is making the difference. Chefs can use TiNDLE Thy to prepare dishes in multiple culinary applications, and for many kinds of cuisines – Western, Chinese, Indian, Middle Eastern and more.
Such a diverse range of applications is unprecedented in our industry. This truly reflects the global nature of TiNDLE, which is not made with a specific cuisine or dish in mind.
GQ: Your messaging is really cheeky. How important is branding and tone for a plant-based meat brand?
AM: Plant-based foods have been long associated with compromising on the authentic meat experience. At Next Gen however, we believe that maximum impact can only be achieved by having meat lovers trying and adopting a plant-based diet, which does not compromise on taste, texture, application or experience.
Our branding plays a key role in generating that maximum impact. It helps us connect with the values of our consumers, be aligned with their beliefs and with what they really enjoy consuming. Next Gen is a team of bold people, who challenge paradigms, believe that there is a better future and offer our views on the industry, attracting like minded consumers to do the same.
GQ: Why did you choose HK, Macau and Malaysia as the next stops for TiNDLE?
AM: Next Gen is targeting global urban well-connected cities for our expansion. Hong Kong is one of the greatest food and cultural hubs in Asia. Macau is renowned tourist destination, especially for Mainland China, with some 40 million tourists in 2019. Additionally, Kuala Lumpur has also been recognized for its culturally diverse cuisine. These factors make all three cities perfect for Next Gen’s expansion in Asia Pacific.
Hong Kong and Singapore are also seen as global hubs with what is best in this space globally, hosting leading brands from the USA, Europe and across Asia. We are confident that TiNDLE can perform at that level, and these markets are highly relevant to us.
GW: What have been the biggest obstacles for Next Gen so far?
AM: Starting a global company in 2020, during the pandemic, forced us to reinvent ourselves completely. The way we work must reflect the current situation we are living in. This by itself is a major challenge, but we have taken an optimistic view. We have designed an innovative asset-lite business model which allows us to operate remotely and digitally, enabling global expansion at an accelerated pace.
GQ: What do you think will be your biggest upcoming challenges going forward?
AM: For plant-based food we believe that the biggest challenge is getting the general population to be open to try. There are many amazing plant-based products available today. Once they give it a try, we are confident that more consumers will be convinced that there is a better and more sustainable way of consuming food. Having that willingness to try – in our view – is the biggest challenge for plant-based products.
GQ: Will Next Gen be raising another round of funding after your record US$10M seed round in February?
AM: We will be announcing our next round of fundraising within the next 12 months.
GQ: In your opinion, is Singapore the food tech capital of the world?
AM: Absolutely, Singapore offers a strong infrastructure to support food technology innovations like alternative protein. Next Gen’s investors include heavyweight names from Singapore such as Temasek and the New Ventures arm of the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB).
To become more self-sufficient and reduce its dependence on food imports, Singapore introduced its “30 by 30” vision in 2019 to locally produce 30% of Singapore’s nutritional needs by 2030.
GQ: Do you plan to launch in the U.S. and/or Europe soon?
AM: TiNDLE os ready to go global. We are working on our market entry strategy to enter both the U.S. and Europe. TiNDLE will be in both markets within the next 18 months.
GQ: Given its versatility, what are some of the most creative Asian dishes made using TiNDLE?
Some of the most creative Asian dishes made with TiNDLE include Adda’s Butter TiNDLE Pot Pie, made by four times Michelin Star Chef Mural Manjunath and Empress’ Kung Pao TiNDLE Chicken. There’s also Privé’s TiNDLE Katsu Curry, a crispy breaded TiNDLE cutlet in aromatic Japanese curry, paired with apple-edamame-corn salsa and steamed brown rice.
Satays, dumplings and even a chicken rice burger are great dishes that will be launched in different restaurants in the upcoming months.
All images courtesy of Tindle / Next Gen.