Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, invested in the round of financing that the firm will also use to expand its range of products.
In the midst of the pandemic, Chile’s NotCo food tech company has achieved a new milestone, closing a Series C round of financing for US$85 million that positions it as the local firm to have received most foreign investment. Its CEO and co-founder, Matías Muchnick, explained details of the operation to Diario Financiero.
The entrepreneur - who, in 2015, together with Pablo Zamora and Karim Pichara, developed an artificial intelligence algorithm to replicate food products using plant-based ingredients - reports that they had been working on the round of funding for five months, making pitches to investors.
“This started in San Francisco, United States. There, we caught the attention of Future Positive, the investment fund of Biz Stone, the co-founder of Twitter. The interaction was very good [and] we showed him the technology personally. He ate our products and was impressed with the quality of NotCo versus what he sees with the best products in the US,” says Muchnick.
In addition to Future Positive and L Catterton, which led the round, the participants included Kaszek Ventures, The Craftory, Bezos Expeditions, General Catalyst, Endeavor Catalyst, IndieBio, Humboldt Capital and Maya Capital. On the question of the amount committed by Amazon founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, Muchnick says it is “confidential”.
It has also been confirmed that Future Positive co-founder, Fred Blackford - who has led investments in Pinterest and Beyond Meat - and Ramiro Lauzan, a partner at L Catterton, have joined NotCo’s board of which Nico Szekasy, founder of Kazsek Ventures, and Elio Leoni, a partner at The Craftory, are already members.
“L Catterton is one of the world’s largest private equity companies and has a lot of experience in the mass consumer market. They are first-line players. This comes at a good time for NotCo; we have grown almost five-fold compared to 2019 and with fewer people. Consumption of our products has been catalyzed by Covid-19 because there is a greater connection with what is consumed. Skepticism about vegetable products has decreased,” says Muchnick.
This funding is in addition to the US$30 million that Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, invested in the Chilean company in March 2019. To date, NotCo has raised a total of US$118 million and, according to TechCrunch, a US media that focuses on start-ups, is valued at US$300 million.
This year, NotCo was also recognized as one of the world’s 100 most innovative start-ups by the World Economic Forum, which selected it as a 2020 Technology Pioneer. It was the only Chilean company selected and one of only four in Latin America.
According to Muchnick, the firm will use the funding to expand its range of products and markets as well as for research.
“We will allocate the resources to consolidate our N°1 position in the plant-based category. We want to be the region’s most important food tech company. There will be a lot of resources for expanding our product portfolio and channels and partners,” he says.
He also confirms that NotCo will be forming more alliances with market players like its alliance this year with Burger King Chile under which the fast food chain incorporated a NotBurger into its menu.
In the case of the end consumer products sold in supermarkets - NotMayo (mayonnaise), NotMilk, NotIcecream and Not Burger - Muchnick indicates that “we are going to expand the range we have today and extend the line with cheese, yogurt, chicken, etc. as well as the supermarket chain and countries.”
To develop more products, he says that the firm will be investing in laboratories, human capital and technology.
Today, it has operations in Chile, Brazil and Argentina and, in 2021, plans to expand to the Peruvian, Colombian, Mexican and US markets.
“We’re going to be launching in the US. We are looking for three partnerships; one with a fast food restaurant, with Amazon, taking advantage of the relationship with Bezos, and with a retailer,” Muchnick anticipates.
Source: Diario Financiero
To find out about more investment opportunities in food tech, see this article.