Fundings-in-Brief: Startup Manufacturing Wine without Grapes Raises $2.7m, Ashton Kutcher Invests in Farm-2-Consumer Startup, Vestaron Raises $18m, lots more

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Alternative Wine Startup Ava Winery Raises $2.7m Seed Round with Horizon Ventures

Ava Winery, a startup engineering wine without grapes or fermentation, has raised $2.7 million in seed funding in a round led by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing-backed Horizons Ventures. Horizons Ventures is a strong supporter of cellular agriculture and alternative protein startups with investments in beef alternative startup Impossible Foods, leather alternative Modern Meadow, egg alternative Hampton Creek, and milk alternative Muufri. Ava Winery started with the basic premise that all wines share the same basic set of compounds. Analyzing the molecular profile allows the company to create wine from a few ingredients like acids, amino acids, sugars, volatile organics, and ethanol. The company has 499 bottles in the works, which are not yet produced, and offers them at $50 a pop.

Bio-Insecticide Company Vestaron Closes $18m Series D

Vestaron, a biological insecticide company, has closed $18 million in a Series D round with existing investors, including: food and ag-focused investors Cultivian Sandbox Ventures, growth capital agtech fund Anterra Capital, multi-sector growth capital funders Charter Capital Partners, Midwest tech investors Open Prairie, and advanced materials venture capital providers Pangaea Ventures. The startup taps the natural insecticidal properties of peptides that have insect-killing properties and which are also safe to humans, birds, fish, and the environment, says the company. These peptides utilize new modes of action, which the company describes as having never before been used for insect control, and therefore they may not suffer from insect resistance. In addition to the bioinsecticides, the company is also leveraging its peptide technology with the development of traits and synthetics that also have a favorable safety spectrum.

Farmers Business Network Closes $20m Series B-2

Farmers Business Network, a cooperative offering a wide variety of services including data management and aggregation, has closed a $20 million round led by Acre Venture Partners, a new $125 million food- and agtech-focused venture capital fund backed by Campbell’s Soup. According to Charles Baron, co-founder and vice president of product for the company, the round is an extension of the startup’s $15 million Series B, which closed in May 2015. Read our recent interview with Baron and AVP’s general partner Gareth Asten here.

Good Eggs Relaunches with $15m Investment from Obvious Ventures

Good Eggs, which closed down part of its operations last year, has returned to market closing a $15 million Series C funding round. It raised the funding from new and existing investors. The new investors included food and ag venture fund S2G Ventures, and Bay Area impact investors Obvious Ventures. The San Francisco-based organic grocery delivery startup announced the deal at a time when investment in food e-commerce startups has fallen 22 percent year-over-year and 41 percent compared to the second half of 2015, according to AgFunder’s Mid-Year  2016 agtech investment report. Find out why S2G and Obvious Ventures decided to back the ailing company on AgFunderNews.

Chinese Fruit E-Commerce Startup Fruitday Closes $15m Series D

Fruitday, a Chinese company that offers imported fruit, closed a $15 million Series D round with an investor fund backed by Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park, a Shanghai-listed developer, and Fruitday’s headquarters. The online-to-offline platform closed a $70 million Series C with in May 2015. Launched in 2009, other investors in the company include Susquehanna International Group’s venture investment arm SIG Asia Investments and consumer growth capital providers ClearVue Partners. Existing investors also participated in this recent round.

And from last week…

Online Farmers Market GrubMarket Raises $20m Series B

San Francisco-based GrubMarket has closed a $20 million Series B round with Ashton Kutcher’s Sound Ventures, successful entrepreneur network Global Founders Capital, multi-stage US and Chinese investors GGV Capital, Chinese investment firm Fosun Group, Riverhead Capital, early stage disruptive tech investors Danhua Capital, and some individual investors. The online marketplace is designed to link farmers and food producers with consumers directly—cutting out the middle man. Focusing on primarily organic foods from small producers, it’s hoping to create better access to these food products for consumers who struggle to find them. Sound Ventures’ Abe Burns told TechCrunch, “What’s wholly disruptive about the company is not the rudimentary technology, but the way it’s applied.” GrubMarkets relies on data to develop logistics coordination and has achieved efficiency that Burns describes as currently non-existent in the market.

Flipkart CEO Invests $1m Seed Round in Food-Startup Yumlane

Offering ready-to-eat meals to the Indian sector, Yumlane has raised a $1 million seed round with online store Flipkart CEO Binny Bansal. Other participants in the round included People Group founder Anupam Mittal, Katalyzers Fund’s Harish Bahl, co-founder of MakeMyTrip Sachin Bhatia, and private equity partner at New Silk Route Darius Pandole. The company is looking at partnerships with retail outlets to optimize efficiency. The vendors that work with Yumlane prepare the food and sell it under the company’s branding. Yumlane oversees marketing, distribution, supply chain, and retail capacities.

London-Based Online Marketplace City Pantry Raises $1.46m 

Helping users discover new dishes and targeting the corporate catering sector, City Pantry has closed a $1.46 million Seed Round with the $129.63 million Angel CoFund, the public dollar backed London Co-Investment Fund, and some angel investors and existing investors. The new cash will be used to help the company solidify its London market while also expanding to new markets throughout the UK and Europe. It will also allocate some capital to marketing, sales, and engineering. The startup features two services: a per-event ordering package that provides one-time catering services and a subscription service that help offices provide food for recurring meetings or events. City Pantry is a graduate of TrueStart, a retail startup accelerator.

Grocery Storage Innovator Axiom Energy Raises $2.5m 

Axiom Energy, a grocery storage company that has developed a refrigeration battery, has closed a $2.5 million venture round with Tesla CTO JB Straubel, Nevada-based angel investors Sierra Angels, breakthrough tech investors Propel(x), seed stage angel group MIT Angels, multi-boutique asset manager Victory Capital, and cleantech investors Element 8. The device is aimed at helping business like grocery stores and food warehouses or distribution centers cut the amount of energy they use. It also has a backup cooling capacity to help keep food from spoiling in the event of a power outage. According to Amrit Robbins, co-founder and president of Axiom, central refrigeration comprises over 9 percent of the electricity used in commercial buildings in the US. He also notes that the energy consumed at supermarkets is three times higher per square foot than retail stores in other segments.

Canadian and US Biotech Company Prairie Plant Systems Raises $6.47m Debt Financing

Privately-held biotech company Prairie Plant Systems has raised $6.47 million in a debt financing. With locations in both Canada and the US, the company offers biotech innovations for the agricultural and environmental products industry, as well as biopharmaceuticals and research. It has acquired some subsidiary companies, including cannabis-focused businesses CanniMed.

Medical Marijuana Dispensary and Cultivator Mānoa Botanicals Raises $3.9m Venture Round

Based on the island of Oahu, Mānoa Botanicals is a licensed medical marijuana dispensary. The licensed facility recently closed a $3.9 venture round with an undisclosed group of investors. It partners with the Hawaii State Department of Health to promote community wellness and health throughout the archipelago state.

Mindful Chef Raises $1m Seed Round from Wimbledon Tennis Champ Andy Murray

Food delivery startup Mindful Chef, which is infamous for delivering food to celebrities like the Beckhams, has raised a $1 million seed round via crowdfunding platform Seedrs with participation from tennis champ Andy Murray, gold medal Olympian Victoria Pendleton, and rugby world cup champ Will Greenwood. Started in 2015, the company’s meals include a variety of options like organic, gluten-free, and complex carbs only. The meal kit is delivered to the buyer’s doorstep and features ingredients based on the recipes he or she chooses. Murray also recently invested in UK startup Hectare Agritech, which manages two agriculture trading platforms: SellMyLivestock and Graindex.

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