Beef jerky potato chips: $10M to Grow Meat in Labs

By June 19, 2014No Comments

Modern Meadow’s Round A was led by Horizons Ventures, the Hong Kong-based firm Li Ka-shing. Horizons Ventures is a leading investor in some of the world’s most innovative companies including Facebook, Waze, Skype, Spotify, Siri and Hampton Creek. With Modern Meadow, Horizons invests in another disruptive technology startup that specializes in a tissue engineering technique called "biofabrication" to grow leather and meat from skin and muscle cells in the lab.

What was the killer argument to go with Horizons Ventures for your Series A?

Andras Forgacs: We were very impressed with the Horizons team. As the venture fund or Mr. Li Ka-shing, they are more understated than most venture investors but also much more capable of adding value. They have tremendous global reach, relationships at the highest levels and a commitment to funding fundamental innovation. Days after they gave us a term sheet, they even made introductions to top scientists who could be helpful in accelerating our research.[aside]They have tremendous global reach and a commitment to funding fundamental innovation.[/aside]
During the investment process, they freely let us speak with their portfolio company CEOs, an impressive group, who universally stated that Horizons were their favorite investors. The opinions of other entrepreneurs were highly instructive and made us realize just how lucky we were to find Horizons as a partner.

How do you get these guys on board?

Andras Forgacs: The best resource for entrepreneurs are fellow entrepreneurs. In this case, we were introduced to Horizons through the CEO of Hampton Creek Foods, Josh Tetrick, who is a friend and fellow innovator in food technology. Horizons recently led their $23M series B round and asked Josh for suggestions on other companies. Needless to say, we’re fans of Hampton Creek.

What phase is your research currently in and what are the next steps for Modern Meadow – this year and in the next 5 years?

Andras Forgacs: We are still a development stage biotech company. Although we have already shown samples of our biofabricated leather (at TEDGlobal 2013 and since) and have hosted tastings of our cultured steak chips, we are not rushing to market these products just yet.[aside]We have hosted tastings of our cultured steak chips[/aside] We anticipate another couple years of R&D before we launch leather in a pilot capacity in partnership with some leading brands.

What’s the time horizon until we will see Modern Meadow leather handbags in the street?

Andras Forgacs: As mentioned, we are still developing and refining our materials. We anticipate launching limited edition pilot applications with some high-end brands in the next few years.

And as for meat in the shelves? And how will it taste?

Andras Forgacs: Cultured meat will take longer to hit supermarket shelves since it will need regulatory approval. We have already organized some private tastings but are not ready to advertise or mass market this product. For the time being steak chips are our "home brew" which we can enjoy with our friends. The feedback so far has been very positive. Some have described it as "beef jerky meets the crunchiness of a potato chip." In collaboration with a terrific chef, we have made poblano barbecue and teriyaki flavors with more to follow…