Wild Earth, Inc., a startup reinventing pet food with biotech, announced on May 22 that it has closed its Series A with an investment of $11 million led by VegInvest, a venture capital firm supporting early-stage companies striving to replace the use of animals in the food system and other industries. This is VegInvest's second investment in Wild Earth; other current investors include Mark Cuban's Radical Investments, Felicis Ventures, Peter Thiel's Founders Fund, and Mars Petcare, bringing total funding to $16 million.
The investment is being used to accelerate Wild Earth's development of its no-meat food for dogs made from an eco-friendly and renewably sourced fungi, a complete protein containing all ten essential amino acids. The company expects the dry kibble formula to be available in the second half of 2019.
Wild Earth also announced it has moved into its new headquarters in Southwest Berkeley at Outermost House, significantly expanding its R&D and business facilities. Outermost House, located in a historic space of a former chocolate factory, was envisioned by VegInvest in 2017 as a global innovation hub for vegan food tech companies.
"Wild Earth and VegInvest share a foundation of values and innovation in this effort to achieve a food system that works better for people, the planet, and animals," said Wild Earth CEO Ryan Bethencourt. "Their experience helping future-of-food companies reach the market will absolutely increase our timeline for commercial availability of our dog food with fungi protein."
"Given the shocking amount of animal farming required for pet food, and the environmental strain caused by feeding companion animals, Wild Earth represents an important component of a more sustainable and humane food system," said Amy Trakinski, managing director of VegInvest, who joins Wild Earth's board of directors. "We're investing in Wild Earth not only to impact this market but because Ryan and his team can provide valuable leadership to other companies in the plant-based innovation space."
New York-based VegInvest provides early-stage capital and guidance to companies in industries like vegan food products and food technology, alternatives to animal testing, and restaurant chains. By replacing the use of animals, VegInvest sees financial opportunities as well as more sustainable and scalable solutions. Current investments include JUST and Veggie Grill.
Wild Earth also welcomed global investors in its funding round. Shanghai-based Bits x Bites is China's first future-of-food fund. VECTR is a leading private equity group based in Hong Kong. Berlin-based P.O.V. is one of Germany's leading food funds.
Wild Earth's fungi-based products require dramatically fewer resources than farming animals to produce the same nutritional value. In addition to a complete protein without animal ingredients, the veterinarian-developed formula offers omega fatty acids, digestion-boosting enzymes, and prebiotics to support gastrointestinal microbiomes. Since 25-30 percent of meat's environmental impact in the U.S. is attributed to pet food, Wild Earth believes its Koji protein is necessary if we hope to sustainably feed more than a billion pets expected by 2050. According to a recent study, 35 percent of pet parents would be willing to feed a vegan diet that meets their animal's nutritional needs.
Wild Earth treats are currently available online at WildEarth.com, Amazon.com, PupJoy.com, select brick-and-mortar retail stores, and wholesale to pet food retailers.