Nine investors participate in the funding round of the foodtech start-up set to produce honey without bees
From left: MeliBio co-founders Aaron Schaller and Darko Mandich

MeliBio has raised $850,000 in a pre-seed funding round supported by nine investors. Aaron Schaller (PhD) and Darko Mandich founded the start-up in 2020 and are developing a proprietary technology that will allow for replacing honeybees as a medium for honey production.

The process that MeliBio is developing is based on synthetic biology, precision fermentation, and plant science.

The start-up was incubated by the accelerator programme of Big Idea Ventures in new York, and has now attracted nine investors, including Joyance Partners, 18.ventures, Sparklabs Cultiv8, Sustainable Food Ventures, Capital V, angel investor Courtney Reum, and two mission-driven family offices from GlassWall Syndicate, the investment syndicate of Stray Dog Capital.

“We are thrilled to have support from the investors who believe in the world our company wants to create,” said chief executive Mandich said. “That world is the place where the most delicious and nutritious food is accessible to everyone, but not at the expense of the sustainability of our planet. I thank all of the people who work diligently to bring MeliBio’s honey made without bees into many homes and communities.”

MeliBio plans to supply food service companies with its plant-based honey as an ingredient. The first product will be soft-launched at the end of this year to fulfil orders the company received during its participation in the accelerator.

“Big Idea Ventures is focused on investing in companies with transformative technologies which have  the power to positively impact a global industry or category,” said Andrew D. Ive, founder and general managing partner of Big Idea Ventures. “MeliBio has the real potential to change not just the honey category but the whole sweetener and skincare industries with a new and sustainable way to create real honey without the bees. MeliBio has created the first truly vegan honey.”

MeliBio is in talks with potential partners from several countries and it expects further commercial product rollout in the first half of next year.

Investor’s view

For Holly Jacobus, investment Partner at Joyance Partners, MeliBio’s novel technology could have an outsized impact on not only honey production in the US, but the entire ecological community.

Nik Talreja, partner at 18.ventures, concurred. “MeliBio’s honey is indistinguishable from traditional bee-made honey, and its properties enable food and cosmetic processors to cost-effectively and scalably introduce a variety of complex sugars into consumer products, with potentially broader appeal. Demand for honey is increasing, and, as we understand it, there is no ecologically sustainable way to meet this growing demand.”

Malcolm Nutt, partner at Sparklabs Cultiv8, sayd the firm is looking forward to assisting MeliBio expand in the Asia Pacific region while making a positive impact on biodiversity.

“There’s no us without the bees and we’re 100% behind MeliBio on their mission to save the bees and us,” said Ryan Bethencourt, partner at Sustainable Food Ventures.

For Courtney Reum, co-founder of M13, invested personally in MeliBio as an angel investor. He said: “Finding ways to produce animal foods without animal farming is important for the sustainability of the global food system. As a long-time connoisseur of honey and all its benefits, I am excited about MeliBio’s endeavour to make honey plant-based while saving bee biodiversity.”

Michiel van Deursen, founder of Capital V, noted that honey possesses unique properties that make it highly attractive in fields such as medicine, cosmetics, and the food industry, but many don’t know the industry seriously harms the environment, and has a huge negative impact on bees.

“I see tremendous opportunities and expect MeliBio to have a great impact in this space,” said van Deursen. “I am proud to add this amazing company and their incredible team to the portfolio of Capital V to help them create a future that is better for our planet and the bees.”

Date published: 30 March 2021

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