The early-stage Malaysian company aims to raise $1 million in seed funding through an equity round hosted on the Singaporean private investment platform
Ento, an alternative protein company based in Malaysia, is launching an equity crowdfunding campaign (ECF) via Fundnel, marking one of the world’s first companies of its kind to raise money via the ECF route. Kevin Wu, Ento’s founder and chief executive, told NutritionInvestor that the company aims to raise $1 million in this round.
Wu said that several investors are already backing Ento’s seed round. He noted that the ECF route provides public and retail investors with the opportunity to invest in this booming sector where previously early-stage deals were only accessible to selected angel investors, venture capital funds and private equity firms. “We are currently raising our seed round via ECF and investors can invest as little as $1,250 for shares in a fast-growing food tech company,” he explained.
Fundnel is a private investment platform headquartered in Singapore with a growing presence in six countries across the Asia Pacific. Since its inception in 2015, the total deal origination value on the network exceeds $800 million with 25 transactions completed to date. The platform has raised capital for SpaceX, Grab, and WeWork among others.
Headquartered in Selangor, about 47-minute drive west of Kuala Lumpur, Ento specialises in farming, food technology and distributing edible insects (crickets and larvae) for human consumption. Wu founded the company in June 2018.
Wu told NutritionInvestor that Ento’s current output is one tonne of product a month – 70% of its production is packed products for consumers and 30% is a high-protein insect-based powder, which the company sells to food manufacturers in the US and across Europe.
Ento’s consumer range includes cookies, bread, cakes, and snacks flavoured with nuts, fruits, and oatmeal.
Ento on an upward trend
To date, Ento works with bakeries, food distributors and manufacturers as well as with business-to-business and business-to-consumer companies in the US and Europe.
Ento caught public attention in mid-2019 when it launched a range of whole roasted cricket snacks, the first to market in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.
“Over the past two years, we’ve seen a large shift in consumers’ food habits and growing interest in healthy and sustainable food products and brands,” said Wu, noting that millennials and Gen-Z are generally more open to the idea of purchasing and consuming new food products, which is a core driver for the growth of the alternative protein industry.
Ento raised a pre-seed round in August last year led by Rapzo Capital, a Singapore-based private family office. The fresh capital enabled the company to expand its product range to include baked goods.
The company is currently developing an Ento burger patty made with a combination of plant-based ingredients and Ento cricket powder.
Over the past year, Ento has attracted key talents and currently has a team of agriculturalists, food technologists, scientists and commercial operators.
The company said it has entered its first year of revenue. Ento is commercialising its products through online and offline retailers and has secured key distribution channels, including its recent launch on Amazon in the US.
Looking ahead, Wu expects that, upon completion of the ECF round, the company will be able to hire more key talent in areas such as product development, sales, distribution and marketing to expand current distribution channels and also drive education among consumers.
Wu explained that the long-term goal is to grow the company to the IPO stage, marking the world’s first edible insect protein company to go public. “This can happen within the next seven-to-ten years given the booming demand for alternative protein and interest in agrifood sector.”
Date published: 25 August 2020