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EXCLUSIVE: Improved Nature Raises $3m to Launch Plant-Based Protein Company

September 18, 2018

Improved Nature, a Raleigh, NC-based protein and meat alternative innovator, has raised $3 million in a convertible note round led by Concentric Capital. The company’s products include the Improved Meat portfolio, that “mimics meat in all cooking methods and forms of distribution,” according to the website.

Other investors in the round include Farmington Foods, the Endowment Fund of NC State University, the Wolfpack Investor Network (NC State Alumni) and the company’s management. Improved Nature previously raised $6 million in seed funding in December 2015.

“This round allows the company to expand from a core team of seven senior managers and launch sales and marketing, adding to the senior management team, and adding 10-15 employees,” David Swintosky, Improved Nature’s chief financial officer, told AgFunderNews. “The first round of $6 million was used to invest in equipment, commercialize the technology and up fit our plant. This convertible note round will convert into a 2019 Series A round.” 

The company was formed in December 2015 by the inventor of the technology, Moshe Meidan from Tel Aviv, Israel, and the partners of RDI Consulting, Dr. Rody Hawkins, Dr. Sarid Shefet, Larry Chandler and Steve Klawiter, with a single corporate investment of $6 million.

“The company was formed to bring simple ingredient plant-based protein products to the commercial markets to meet the global demand for plant-based proteins,” Swintosky said. “The company’s products are shelf-stable, single-ingredient protein concentrate products that when activated — boiled in water like pasta — perform like animal proteins in bite, texture, and taste.”

Improved Nature’s products allow innovative food manufacturers, retail grocers, food service outlets and restaurants to create ready-to-eat meals, menu items, and snacks with plant-based protein. Among its early products are Crispy Tenders and Crispy Filets—battered, breaded and fried sustainable alternatives to chicken tenders and chicken patties, heated and served with any sauce to create a wide variety of simple meals. 

Its first customers include the Los Angeles, Irvine, and Tustin Unified School Districts.

“The company’s technology allows perhaps the highest efficiency conversion of plant proteins to meat alternatives to enable the efficient delivery of protein to a global population forecasted to grow from 7 billion to 9.8 billion by 2050,” Swintosky said.

According to Swintosky, new investors in the company were eager to understand the global market opportunity and assess the competitive landscape in the plant-based foods market. 

“Investors had the opportunity see and taste a variety of the company’s products and compare them to a variety of plant-based protein products that are available in the market today,” he said. “Once they could see and experience the product and understand how fast the market is growing, they wanted to come aboard.”

The fundraising round began in February to a small group of investors and the investors bring with them significant operations and board experience.

Concentric Capital was impressed with Improved Nature’s proprietary technology, which has allowed it to transform simple, clean-label protein concentrates into a wide and versatile range of plant-based meat alternatives.

“Our investment in Improved Nature is an exciting first deployment of capital for the fund,” said  Brent Burgess, Concentric Capital’s founder. “The company has a great management team and will make a significant social impact by growing its worldwide distribution.”

Improved Nature’s competition is traditional animal proteins and other alternatives to animal proteins in the commercial food service and food manufacturing markets. The company currently has initial customers in the K-12 market through distributors and is selling wholesale to food service and food manufacturing customers globally.  

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