WildEarth, a biotech startup that is growing vegan pet food in a lab, just raised $550,000 from Mark Cuban in a ‘Shark Tank’ deal
You’ve probably never heard of the phrase “carbon pawprint.” Yes, we all love our pets but the carbon footprint for pet food continues to increase at an alarming rate with no sign of slowing down. According to a new study, pet foods are responsible for a quarter of the greenhouse gas emissions caused by animal agriculture. Researchers and scientists estimate that a whopping 64 million tons of carbon-dioxide equivalent emitted in the production of pet foods. That’s the bad news. The good news is that, one startup is on a mission to reverse the trend and reinvent the way pet foods are made with bio technology.
WildEarth is a Berkeley, California-based biotech startup that is developing clean high-protein pet foods that are healthier, better for the environment, and more humane than conventional products. The company has just received a $550,000 investment funding from serial entrepreneur, investor, and owner of the Dallas Mavericks Mark Cuban on the ABC hit “Shark Tank.” The episode premiered last night and is available on demand at ABC.go.com for a limited time.
Founded in 2017 by Abril Estrada, Kristin Wuhrman, Ron Shigeta, and Ryan Bethencourt, Wild Earth is a sustainable pet food startup with the aim of reinventing the behemoth pet food industry by bringing a revolutionary clean protein to market—one that comes from the Earth, not from animals. This radical new approach leaves behind the inefficiencies, contamination issues, and farmed animal suffering associated with pet foods of the past.
Cuban’s interest in Wild Earth stems from both his belief in scientific/technological solutions and his concern for environmental sustainability. Upon pitching the Sharks, Wild Earth had raised $4 million from both leading Silicon Valley and impact investors. Cuban’s ownership stake in Wild Earth is 10 percent.
“There’s an enormous potential market for lower-cost, sustainable protein to feed the growing worldwide pet population and Wild Earth is now the alpha dog in this space,” said Cuban.
Wild Earth’s treats, and its upcoming food for dogs, are made from eco-friendly and renewably sourced Koji (Aspergillus oryzae). Koji is a complete protein containing all ten essential amino acids dogs need, and requires dramatically fewer resources than farming animals to produce the same nutritional value. With 25-30 percent of meat’s environmental impact in the U.S. attributed to pet food, Wild Earth is developing alternatives to ensure we can sustainably nourish more than a billion pets by 2050.
“The Sharks were understandably tough on me, and questioned the need to create healthier and more sustainable products for our pets, but Mark, the biggest Shark of them all, understood our mission and the massive opportunity best,” said Wild Earth CEO Ryan Bethencourt. “Mark and his team’s impact has already been huge — since their investment, we’ve successfully launched our first three products and gone nationwide both online and in retail.”
Cuban, owner of the 2011 World Champion Dallas Mavericks and the bestselling author of “How to Win at the Sport of Business,” is owner and chairman of AXS TV (www.axs.tv). He co-owns the Landmark Theater chain, Magnolia Pictures, and Magnolia Home Video; founded HDNet, Broadcast.com, and MicroSolutions; other successes include Mahalo, JungleCents.com, motionlift.com, Filesanywhere.com, Naked Pizza and 140Fire.com. For more information visit markcubancompanies.com.
Wild Earth’s Good Protein Dog Snacks are free of animal ingredients, antibiotics, growth hormones, artificial preservatives, artificial flavors, artificial colors, additives, fillers, and mystery ingredients. The veterinarian-developed formula offers omega fatty acids, digestion-boosting enzymes, and prebiotics to support gastrointestinal microbiomes.