Alternative foods are back in our headlines today after Ambronite, a Finnish food technology company producing an organic meal replacement drink, raised $600k in seed funding.
And, as with other startups in the space, the company attracted some big name investors including YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim, who led the round with Lifeline Ventures, a Finnish early stage investment firm.
The company, which sells a powder-based product, is the latest in a growing number of alternative food products to hit the market with the aim of giving consumers their daily nutritional needs in more environmentally sustainable, and convenient formats.
“We were solving our own problem,” Mikko Ikola, co-founder at Ambronite told AgFunderNews. “We were busy, but we wanted to eat healthy nutrition. When you’re rushing through your day, many people make compromises. We started to develop the product initially just for ourselves. Soon after, many friends of ours got excited and we felt there was momentum to make Ambronite available to the world.”
Karim and Lifeline were joined in the round by ex-Red Bull executive Alberto Carrero, Silicon Valley angel investor Dan Bragiel, and medical doctor PhD Leena Niemisto. Other “experienced serial entrepreneur masterminds who share our mission to help people thrive and live life to the fullest” also invested, according to a press release.
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And the company has testimonials from a variety of professionals from the startup tech world including Spotify, WeWork and BetterDoctor on its website.
“Most of our customers are busy professionals who care about their health and time,” said Ikola. “These are software engineers, consultants, designers and so on. What we’ve noticed, though, is that most of these people have more interest towards their diet and healthy habits than the average guy. In addition to knowledge workers, there is an additional segment of outdoor adventurers like sailors, bikers, and hikers.”
While several of the food technologies on the market are offering ways to eat protein-based food without the need for animal produce — BeyondMeat and Hampton Creek are two examples offering plant-based meat and egg alternatives respectively — Ambronite is one of few drinkable options.
The most developed, or mature, is Solyent, a Y-Combinator alumnus, which raised a $22 million Series A in January with big name investors such as major VC Andreessen Horowitz, and The Climate Corporation’s CEO David Friedberg.
Ambronite differs to Solyent in the ingredients it uses. While Solyent uses soy protein, algal oil, isomaltulose (from beets) and other vitamins & minerals, Ambronite focuses on organic nuts, oats, and berries.
Ambronite calls itself a “drinkable supermeal”, because “it’s much more than a meal replacement shake”, reads the website. So its ingredients are the company’s unique selling point.
“The innovation behind Ambronite is that it fulfills US & Nordic nutrition guidelines — using only real-food ingredients. Unlike many competitors out there, we don’t use supplements or additives” he said. Ambronite believes that synthetic supplements could soon become out of date as research into nutrition is constantly changing, making real food ingredients a safer bet to ensure its drinks offer maximum nutritional value.
This latest round is Ambronite’s second formal fundraising effort after launching in 2013. It raised a record-breaking $103k on Indiegogo, beating other food product raises and was also awarded some $150k in grants, according to Ikola. The early success of the product, which received orders even while it was still at the trial stage, has also helped the startup to avoid coming to the market for more capital, he added.
Ambronite’s manufacturing facility is regulated by the FDA.
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