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Fundings-in-Brief: Israeli Seed Breeding Startup Raises $1.25m, Alibaba Invests $2.3bn in, more

April 14, 2016

Israeli Seed Breeding Startup EQUInom Raises $1.25m

EQUInom, an Israeli seed breeding startup, has raised a $1.25 million round led by Hazera, a field crops and seed production specialist group. The startup uses computational breeding technology to create seeds for the global food industry. It plans to use the new capital to boost it’s plant-protein seed breeding program using genomics, bioinformatics, and phenomics. This recent round brings the company’s total funding to $2.25 million. News also broke that EQUInom has signed with the joint venture of PepsiCo and Strauss Group, Obela, to participate in a breeding program using the company’s proprietary technology. Plant-based protein products are an increasing segment of the consumer packaged goods market, creating new demand for plants that pack a good deal of protein. This month, marketing research firm Mordor Intelligence released a report concluding that the plant protein market totaled $7.7 billion last year and could reach $10 billion in 2020.

Chinese Online Food Delivery Company Raises $1.25bn from Alibaba

Major e-commerce retailer Alibaba and its offshoot Ant Financial Services Group has invested $1.25 billion in, a Chinese food delivery service. Sources report that Alibaba will take a 30 percent stake in the business as part of the deal, but both companies have declined to comment. The phrase “” translates loosely to “hungry now?” and piggybacks on the growing trend in China of so-called online-to-offline (O2O) consumer services. This covers everything from restaurant review forums to taxicab companies. Find out more on

Food Waste Startup WISErg Closes $12.3m Venture Round

California waste-to-fertilizer company WISErg has raised a $12.3 million venture round with undisclosed investors. The startup has developed a device called the Harvester which allows restaurants, supermarkets, and other food service facilities to make good use of their unsold and unsellable food. The machine extracts the nutrients from the food and stabilizes the solution for transport to a nearby WISErg facility, where it’s then turned into a water soluble, organic-compliant crop fertilizer input. To learn more about WISErg, its technology, and how startups are tackling the big food waste problem, read our recent article on AgFunderNews.

UK Same-Day Grocer GrabFood Raises $1.2m Angel Round

Connecting customers with crowd-sourced personal grocery shoppers, London-based GrabFood has raised $1.2 million from a group of angel investors. The startup incentivizes the personal shoppers by offering them a commission based on the number of items and orders they deliver. The company boasts delivery within one hour from ordering and currently services some cities in the UK. It also partners with some retailers, including Aldi, Lidl, and Costco. According to the company, it has already delivered 500,000 items from local stores featured in its catalogue.

Online Food Marketplace Homemade Raises $2.1m Seed Round

New York-based Homemade, which allows customers to purchase homemade food from local cooks through a mobile app, has raised a $2.1 million seed round from a long list of investors including consumer-only venture capital firm Maveron, former Google exec investment firm XG Ventures, seed and early stage investors Third Kind Venture Capital, SF venture capital firm Slow Ventures, NY commerce investors Scrum Ventures, platform company investors Rostrum Capital, and others. After a customer selects a food item, they receive a text message confirming that the cook has your order. The customer and the chef then meet at an agreed upon location to close the deal. The company is hoping to establish community through food.

Tel Aviv Ag-Analytics Company CropX Closes $10m Series A

Ag data analytics service CropX has closed a $1 million Series A round led by multi-stage investors Robert Bosch Venture Capital and disruptive technology accelerator Flex Lab IX. This brings the Tel Aviv-based startup’s total funding to $10 million. The company has developed soil sensors and irrigation controls for commercial farms. CropX will use the funding and strategic partnerships to expand its presence and adoption in the US, where it currently serves 20 farms. It will also focus on product development and this week unveiled the release of a new version of its sensor. To read more about the company and its technology, go to our story on AgFunderNews.

Sri Lankan-based Food Processing Firm MA Foods Raises $2.1m

MA Foods, a Sri Lanka-based food processing firm, has raised roughly $1.2 million from Aavishkaar Venture Management, a venture capital firm that invests in rural areas and impoverished segments throughout India. Marketing products under the brand names Happy Home, MA Kitchen, Pasta Roma, and Dad’s Garden, the company plans to use the new capital to launch a new market in the island’s northern region. The startup, which was founded by a husband and wife team in 1986, provides a broad range of foods including organic spices, sauces, and ready-to-eat fare. The deal constitutes AVM’s first funding deal in Sri Lanka.

Logistics Service Provider Shipsy Raises $1m Equity Round

Based in Gurgaon, on-demand logistics provider Shipsy sold a 20 percent stake in the company to DTDC Express, another logistics firm. The sale follows an undisclosed venture round that Shipsy closed with some angel investors last year. The funding will be used to improve Shipsy’s technology while increasing the solutions it offers. The company also sees the deal as a way to partner with another leader in the logistics industry. In India, the food e-commerce sector has been a booming business. What’s troubled many of the companies and proved fatal for some, however, is keeping delivery costs from cutting into profit margins. This has created new opportunities for logistics companies to help food delivery startups meet demand without going broke.

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