Shoes of Prey co-founder Michael Fox’s latest venture, plant-based meat startup Fable, has attracted $1.5 million in funds from Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes and other investors as the meat alternative trend gathers pace.
The startup has also secured funding from Blackbird Ventures and angel investors alongside Mr Cannon-Brookes’ personal investment fund Grok Ventures.
Mr Fox was the co-founder of fashion startup Shoes of Prey which collapsed in March and which was also backed by Blackbird.
Launching Fable’s plant-based meat product at Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner restaurant in Melbourne on Tuesday, Mr Fox said the product was designed to taste as “neutral” as possible.
Fable is made from shiitake mushrooms, coconut oil and sugar. For the launch, Dinner’s chefs glazed it with mirin and soy in order to use Fable as a substitute for snails in the restaurant’s signature snail porridge dish.
Mr Fox co-founded Fable with fine dining chef and mycologist (fungi-focused biologist) Jim Fuller and organic mushroom farmer Chris McLoghlin after he started focusing on a meat alternative as part of the Mars Foods’ accelerator.
“Between Chris and Jim they are very strong in food and particularly mushrooms,” Mr Fox said. “I bring the entrepreneurial side, brand building and fundraising which is what I have done before.”
The fledgling startup has attracted interest from celebrity chef Blumenthal who will start serving Fable at his Heathrow airport restaurant next week and is expected to put it on the menu at Dinner in January.
Mr Blumenthal said in today’s world people are mindful about what they eat.
“Through the last months, we have been extensively testing the product with some of our recipes and realised that this product goes beyond replacing meat, it should be in a category of its own,” he said.
Over time our goal is to help reduce society’s reliance on industrial agriculture so we don’t want to be just high end.Michael Fox
Mr Fox said Fable was launching with Mr Blumenthal and would shortly be on the menu at restaurants including Kingsleys in Woolloomooloo, The Winery in Surry Hills, Sydney and The Esplanade Hotel in St Kilda, Melbourne.
“Over time our goal is to help reduce society’s reliance on industrial agriculture so we don’t want to be just high end we want to scale up and roll out to quick service restaurant chains and retailers,” Mr Fox said.
The $1.5 million funding round was structured as a SAFE note, a simple agreement for future equity, similar to a convertible note.
Mr Fox said the funding, which was “a bit more than we planned”, will be used as working capital to manufacture Fable’s product.
Rick Baker of Blackbird said Mr Fox was a great founder. “We are still very proud of the investment we made in Shoes of Prey and we think they did a great job of proving out a model but it didn’t just work,” he said. “We know Michael well and are very keen to back him again.”
Mr Baker said Blackbird had been following a theme of alternative protein with an investment last year in New Zealand startup Sunfed.
“We think over the next couple of decades there is going to be need and demand for protein not grown on animals,” he said.
“In the short term there is this nice theme playing out that people are keen to add plant-based protein to their diet. We are seeing meat-free Mondays and a move to flexitarian eating and products like Fable are providing these consumers with new forms of food that is interesting and tastes really good.”
The meat alternative sector is being driven in the United States by Beyond Meat which is listed on the Nasdaq and valued at $US4.5 billion ($6.5 billion) and Bill Gates-backed Impossible Foods.
“We think there is a similar opportunity in Australia,” Mr Baker said.
Source: Thanks smh.com