Global investment fund, which only backs sustainably-minded start-ups, The Craftory will provide 60% of the US$30m-capital to Santiago-based start-up NotCo (short for The Not Company).
Bezos Expeditions, the company that manages Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' personal venture capital investments, will also participate in the round along with existing investors Kaszek Ventures and IndieBio.
NotCo said it will use the money to finance new product development for goods – it specifically mentioned milk and ice cream – and help the start-up expand into new markets later this year. It has its eyes on Mexico and the US, and then other Latin American countries such as Argentina and Brazil, it said.
The company was founded by three scientists – biotech engineer Matías Muchnick, biochemist Pablo Zamora and computer scientist Karim Pichara – who developed the technology-driven product development process.
NotCo uses a proprietary Artificial Intelligence-powered software called 'Giuseppe' that maps out the composition of food at a molecular level, allowing it to identify which plant-based molecules – it has around 7,000 in its database – can best replace animal-origin ones.
Muchnick previously told this publication: “The only way to get rid of human bias was to generate an algorithm to suggest ingredients, rather than a human. [...] Using technology for plant-based food development is going to be huge, huge, huge."
After Giuseppe suggests relevant ingredients, a team of chefs and sensory specialists provides feedback on taste, texture, and formulation.
Its flagship product, Not Mayo, made from a blend of chickpeas and lupin, is currently sold in around 1,000 stores across Chile including WalMart, Cencosud, Tottus, and Unimarc.
NotCo CEO: 'This is a great endorsement'
Co-Founder of The Craftory Elio Leoni Sceti said it was the epitome of a mission-driven challenger brand.
“It has the energy and capabilities to topple the traditional food production giants. Their advanced thinking combines food tech, machine AI, and plant-based ingredients to create a sustainable non-animal protein source.
“We are thrilled to be working with [co-founder and CEO] Matías Muchnick and the NotCo team as they transform the food production industry and give people the choice to consume environmentally-conscious products.”
Muchnick said: “It is a great endorsement to have both The Craftory and Bezos Expeditions invest in our business.”
“Their expertise in both FMCG and technology will allow us to further disrupt the food industry and expand our offering to a global audience.”
The Craftory: 'Counter-corporate' capital investment
Describing itself as “counter-corporate and anti-traditional VC”, The Craftory is US$300 million-investment company that provides permanent early stage and growth capital (series A and B) to mission-driven consumer brands that positively impact the categories they serve as well as society, and the planet.
“Our mission is to amplify brands committed to a sustainable consumerist model,” it says. “There’s an urgent need for responsible innovation from the bakery to the household, packaged foods, pets, pharmacy, wellness and toiletries aisles.”
Based in both London and San Francisco, The Craftory is particularly interested in scaling up companies working in the following food areas: sustainable agriculture and commodity supply chains, sugar reformulation and taste science, plant-based foods and alternative proteins, frozen food, healthy snacking and the gut microbiome.
From January 2019 onwards, it will not be investing in beverage-only brands.