Aardvark, the insect-based pet food startup that is on a mission to make pet ownership more planet-friendly, has successfully raised more than £300k from 912 investors.
Having originally sought £50k on Crowdcube, valuing the company at £1.05m, the raise reached 100% of its initial target after just five days. Aardvark went on to overfund by 600% from over 900 investors and ended the round early after just 25 days. The raise will support the brand’s plans to manufacture and market its inaugural range of dry kibbles, scheduled to launch early 2021.
Aardvark’s brand mission is to make pets planet-friendly through using sustainable insect protein in its food rather than animal meat. The environmental impact of pets to this day remains a virtually untold story – with pets eating an estimated 20% of the world’s meat and being responsible for as much as a quarter of the damage associated with the meat industry. Aardvark’s insect protein requires as little as 2% of the land area and 4% of the water per kg of protein when compared to beef. Additionally, it is a hypoallergenic high protein source meaning it is particularly well suited for pets with sensitive stomachs. This is in contrast to many animal meat proteins, with as high as 34% of all dogs having an allergy to beef. By championing this lighter carbon ‘pawprint’ and a digitally-native approach the challenger brand is seeking to disrupt the pet food sector and become a lifestyle brand that speaks to a largely millennial audience.
With 66% of millennials already reducing their own meat intake, they have inevitably turned their attention to what they feed their pets, and in a sector without a definitive brand leader, Aardvark aims to disrupt an industry which lacks offerings outside of animal meat based food. Insect protein is endorsed by the British Veterinary Association and offers a sustainable solution where plant-based diets are not feasible. The British Veterinary Association warns against pet owners feeding their dogs and cats a plant-based diet due to the potential for health damage.
Aardvark represented a compelling investment opportunity and a chance to back another company doing its part to combat climate change. Speaking about the investment, Aardvark founder Hugo Walters said: “I’m delighted by the level of investment we received via our Crowdcube round and to be able to bring Aardvark to pets across the UK. For too long pet owners like myself have been looking for sustainable food for their pets and we have been held back by the lack of alternatives to animal meat. Insect protein offers a viable solution that is both good for your pet and the planet. The overfunding will enable us to scale more quickly, with the aim of becoming the market leader for sustainable pet food in the UK.”
Crowdcube co-founder Luke Lang: "With the spotlight on sustainability coupled with the increase in demand for pets since the pandemic, it was no surprise to see Aardvark attract so much deserved attention during their raise with Crowdcube. It's fantastic to see a hefty 900 investors join them on their mission to make pet ownership sustainable."
UK Based Aardvark was founded in 2020 by Hugo Walters. Aardvark aims to make pet ownership sustainable by developing a range of pet food for dogs and cats that uses insects as the protein source. Starting with a range of dry kibbles for dogs and cats, Aardvark is set to launch early 2021 via subscription and standalone DTC channels, with a view to move into pet food stores within eight months and supermarkets shortly after.
By Lindsay Beaton
As work continues on creating a new nutrition label that focuses on simplifying information for consumers, challenges remain.
By Tang Yu