Plant-based meat maker Planetarians (IndieBio Food-X 08) has closed a $6M seed II round led by Mindrock, which was covered by TechCrunch (“Planetarians grabs $6M to get its plant-based protein into foodservice orbit”). The funding round, which brings Planetarians’ total funding to date to $6.7M, also included SOSV, Traction Fund, Techstars, and AB InBev, which provides spent yeast to Planetarians.
While Planetarians has landed on developing whole cuts of plant-based proteins, the company got its start by making nutritional drinks. Upon realizing the high costs of soy proteins, Planetarians’ founders Aleh Manchuliantsau and Max Barnthouse began investigating the merits of lower-cost byproducts or upcycled ingredients. After experimenting with chips and crackers using upcycled ingredients, Planetarians turned to plant-based whole cuts. The company leverages solid-state fermentation using brewer’s yeast, the byproduct of beer fermentation, to create umami-like-flavored “ribs”.
“I thought, what if we can get the benefits of the fermentation but without fermentation?” Manchuliantsau told TechCrunch in an interview. “We analyzed biomass and started looking for what was already available on the market, and we found brewer’s yeast, the byproduct of beer fermentation. They use yeast to ferment sugars, but they need to dispose of it after making the alcohol.”
Planetarians’ technology has been proven out at an industrial scale, and the company is working on product market fit. The new capital will help fund a pilot facility and allow Planetarians to continue to ramp up sales.