Wild Earth, Inc., a startup reinventing pet food with biotech, announced March 18 that it has accepted an investment of $550,000 from serial entrepreneur, investor, and owner of the Dallas Mavericks Mark Cuban on the ABC hit "Shark Tank." The episode premiered last night and is available on demand at ABC.go.com for a limited time.
Cuban's interest in Wild Earth stems from both his belief in scientific/technological solutions and his concern for environmental sustainability. Upon pitching the Sharks, Wild Earth had raised $4 million from both leading Silicon Valley and impact investors. Cuban's ownership stake in Wild Earth is 10 percent.
"There's an enormous potential market for lower-cost, sustainable protein to feed the growing worldwide pet population and Wild Earth is now the alpha dog in this space," said Cuban.
Wild Earth's treats, and its upcoming food for dogs, are made from eco-friendly and renewably sourced Koji (Aspergillus oryzae). Koji is a complete protein containing all ten essential amino acids dogs need, and requires dramatically fewer resources than farming animals to produce the same nutritional value. With 25-30 percent of meat's environmental impact in the U.S. attributed to pet food, Wild Earth is developing alternatives to ensure we can sustainably nourish more than a billion pets by 2050.
"The Sharks were understandably tough on me, and questioned the need to create healthier and more sustainable products for our pets, but Mark, the biggest Shark of them all, understood our mission and the massive opportunity best," said Wild Earth CEO Ryan Bethencourt. "Mark and his team's impact has already been huge -- since their investment, we've successfully launched our first three products and gone nationwide both online and in retail."
Cuban, owner of the 2011 World Champion Dallas Mavericks and the bestselling author of "How to Win at the Sport of Business," is owner and chairman of AXS TV (www.axs.tv). He co-owns the Landmark Theater chain, Magnolia Pictures, and Magnolia Home Video; founded HDNet, Broadcast.com, and MicroSolutions; other successes include Mahalo, JungleCents.com, motionlift.com, Filesanywhere.com, Naked Pizza and 140Fire.com. For more information visit markcubancompanies.com.
Wild Earth's Good Protein Dog Snacks are free of animal ingredients, antibiotics, growth hormones, artificial preservatives, artificial flavors, artificial colors, additives, fillers, and mystery ingredients. The veterinarian-developed formula offers omega fatty acids, digestion-boosting enzymes, and prebiotics to support gastrointestinal microbiomes.
Wild Earth treats are available in five-ounce bags online at WildEarth.com, Amazon.com, at select brick-and-mortar retail stores, and wholesale to pet food retailers.