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Meet the team: Antje Räuscher

Antje Räuscher is the Programme & Innovation Manager at the ProVeg Incubator. Antje is originally from the north sea but grew up in Halle an der Saale. Before joining ProVeg in March 2019, she had lived in Shanghai, Seoul, and Denmark. 

Antje, what do you do at the ProVeg Incubator?

As a Programme and Innovation Manager I am leading the programming side of our operations. That means that I design and organise the tailormade accelerator programme that we deliver to our startups. I also work closely with the founders of those startups on their strategies and keep them aligned with their goals.

In addition, I am responsible for scouting new startups to join the ProVeg Incubator and lead the selection process that decides the companies we’ll work with. I also work to expand our strategic partner network in key areas.

How did you end up working in this position?

Food was always something I wanted to work in, especially because it cuts across so many different disciplines and has such an impact on people’s lives.

I completed a stint in international development cooperation, working on topics such as food security and sustainable supply chains. I was with the German Development Agency in Sri Lanka where I worked with and consulted startups before I joined the Proveg Incubator.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

My job at the ProVeg Incubator allows me to meet and work alongside so many inspiring, driven, and genuinely nice people which is truly gratifying. I think this is very special to the alternative protein industry. It’s a very exciting space but it’s also just full of people who are keen to contribute towards a better food system. 

What are some of the challenges of your job?

For me personally, the biggest challenge is to say no to certain startups who apply for our programme. There are so many hard-working and mission-driven founders out there, that it would be impossible for us to work with them all. However, sometimes it is just really difficult to have to turn startups down.

What are the values that drive you?

Integrity, making a difference, and having fun along the way.

Tell us three interesting facts about yourself?

  1. I worked in Tanzanian villages for three months
  2. My sense of smell is very good
  3. I know where to find the best spicy food in Berlin

What are your top three podcast/book/documentary recommendations?

The Sympathizer (book), Verbrechen Podcast, Home of the Brave (Podcast), My Octopus Teacher (documentary)

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Eating, hiking, mushroom foraging, spending time with friends, and playing games.

If your flat was on fire, what items would you save? (assume family and pets are safe)

This is impossible to answer, I have so much stuff. 

We are celebrating our second birthday!

Today (1 November) the ProVeg Incubator turns two years old. Since launching, we have reached many milestones on our mission to transform the global food system. To celebrate our second birthday, we’d like to share some of the highlights with you.

On World Vegan Day 2018, the ProVeg Incubator officially opened its doors for the first time. The months have whizzed by since then, and, somehow, we’re already celebrating our second birthday!

The ProVeg Incubator was launched by ProVeg as part of its mission to reduce the global consumption of animals. It was the world’s first incubator to exclusively support startups producing alternatives to animal-based foods. 

If people are to adopt a more plant-based lifestyle, we strongly believe that they need to be provided with products they will love. Consumers will eat fewer eggs and less seafood, for example, when they can purchase attractive, accessible, affordable alternatives. That’s where our startups come in.

We are supporting the companies at the forefront of innovation. Our alumni have developed a whole range of plant-based and cultured-food products, ingredients, and supporting technologies. In the last two years, we’ve achieved a lot together. Let’s take a look at the highlights…

We’ve built a startup community

To date, the ProVeg Incubator has supported more than 45 startups from around the world. We’ve worked with plant-based meat companies in Russia, fermented dairy startups out of Israel and Germany, and cultured food companies from Latin America to Australia.

Founders from the Incubator’s second cohort of startups

Over 100 entrepreneurs have participated in the ProVeg Incubator programme. They have gone on to continue building thriving businesses and we’re proud to be helping them along that journey. 

However, this is also much bigger than any one individual’s success. What we’ve built is a life-long startup community. A collective, collaborative hub of entrepreneurs that continue to share knowledge, advise one another, and help each other tackle challenges.

We are funding startups

Running out of money is one of the top reasons for the failure of new companies, so securing funding is crucial for a startup’s success and sustainability. At the start of 2020, the ProVeg Incubator announced it would be expanding its support package to startups by including grants and financial investment.

Every startup that joins the programme now receives a grant of 20,000 Euros. There is also the option for follow-up investment of up to 180,000 Euros following the completion of the programme. In addition, we connect founders with investors from our network in order to help  them secure the funds they need to build their companies.

Two of the founders of Update Foods, Clémence Landeau and Céline Bouvier

We are supporting female entrepreneurs

The food industry remains male-dominated. However, more and more female entrepreneurs and scientists are moving into this sector and choosing to start their own companies.

With every call for entries that we launch, we are receiving increasing numbers of applications from startups with women in leading roles. In fact, the majority of the entrepreneurs in our latest cohort, which kicked off last week, are women.

We’re helping startups to get their products onto shelves

Our alumni have launched over 40 products onto the retail market. That means that the foods they are producing are out there in the world, being purchased by consumers as alternatives to conventional meat, dairy, and animal-based snacks.

Greenwise, for example, is selling its plant-based meat in more than 2,000 stores in Russia. You can find the Nu Company’s chocolate bars in 16 countries worldwide. Better Nature’s tempeh products are available in UK supermarkets and online via Amazon. And in Germany, you’ll find Vly Foods, Mondarella, Cashewbert, and Von Georgia products stocked in supermarkets, drug stores, and cafes.

Chocolate bars from the nu company are on sale in 15+ countries

And those are just the plant-based examples. Food tech companies such as Mushlabs and Legendairy Foods that are working on fermentation, require more time before they can launch tangible products to the public. However, when they –  and others – do, it’s likely to change the face of the food sector fundamentally.

We stood together against corona

Companies, big and small around the world, have been rocked by the coronavirus pandemic. When the first lockdown was announced in March, we were just weeks away from launching our first startup cohort of 2020.

We decided to stand up for startups in these trying times and swiftly moved our whole programme online. By the end of this year, we will have hosted two full cohorts of startups digitally.

The ProVeg Incubator’s first digital cohort of startups

Our job is to support and accelerate startups. We’re proud to have been able to continue to do that, even under particularly tricky circumstances.

If you would like to keep up to date with all the latest news from the ProVeg Incubator, subscribe to our newsletter below. You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram @provegincubator

Come meet our latest startups

We are excited to be launching our fifth batch of pioneering startups at the ProVeg Incubator. Over the next three months, we’ll be working closely with the founders of these innovative companies to help them take their businesses to the next level. Read on to meet the startups.

From algae-based dairy alternatives to the world’s first chicken made from peanut protein, these startups are ready to disrupt the global food industry. This week, we are officially launching the latest cohort of pioneering companies to join the ProVeg Incubator.

In total, we’ll be working with six startups from around the world, including China, Chile, India, and several European countries. The companies were selected from a record number of startup applications to the Incubator and we’re really looking forward to supporting their growth.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, we’ll be hosting this batch of startups online, just as we did earlier this year with our fourth cohort. We already know that the format works well, and in these trying times we want to offer startups all the support we possibly can. So, without further ado, here is our fifth cohort!

Meet the startups 

Two of the founders of Update Foods, Clémence Landeau and Céline Bouvier

Update Foods

Update Foods is on a mission to help more people around the world tackle the difficult challenge of ditching dairy. Clémence Landeau, Céline Bouvier, Gaëtan Gohin, and Franck Manifacier founded the company in France. Together, they are producing algae-based milk and other dairy alternatives.

The team is motivated by the conviction that it’s time to step back from animal-based products and embrace plant-based eating. To help more people take the plunge into a new lifestyle, Update Foods offers a line of nutritious, affordable alternatives. They taste like dairy, but without any of the negatives.

Haofood

One of the first startups in the world to use peanut protein as the key ingredient for creating plant-based meat. Haofood’s initial product is a fried plant-based chicken, developed using a rigorous, scientific R&D process.

The company was founded in China by Astrid Prajogo, with the aim of helping flexitarians to reduce their meat consumption without foregoing the pleasures of the meals they know and love. Haofood’s plant-based chicken is targeted for use in familiar Asian dishes. These include Chinese street-food fried chicken (鸡排), chicken katsu, and the Indonesian speciality ayam geprek.

The Fast Good Company

An impact-driven, plant-based-food startup, founded by Dylan Duinmaijer in the Netherlands. The Fast Good Company’s mission is to turn fast food into fast good with the power of plant-based ready meals.

Currently, the Fast Good product line consists of three different dishes: Lasagna Bolognese, Sweet Potato Pie, and Tikka Masala. The meals are 100% plant-based and free of any added sugars or preservatives.

As well as being passionate about reducing global animal consumption, the Fast Good Company also aims to reduce food waste.

Founders of the Fast Good Company, Dylan Duinmaijer and Stephanie de Jong

Naka Foods

Naka Foods was founded by Kushal Aradhya R, in India, in order to create innovative alternatives to animal-based foods, using microalgae and plant-based-superfood ingredients. The company develops sustainable products, with a focus on nutrition, taste, and high-quality, natural ingredients.

Naka Foods’ first product, the 4pmbar, is a plant-based chocolate bar made using algae-derived spirulina and probiotics. Now, the startup has set its sights on the plant-based meat sector. Naka Foods has produced a chicken alternative that is specifically designed to suit Indian and Asian cuisine.

Fellow Creatures

Fellow Creatures is taking plant-based treats mainstream by showing just how delicious vegan food can be. The startup was founded by Zsolt Stefkovics and Fraser Doherty, in Scotland, in order to create chocolate that causes no harm.

The current Fellow Creatures range consists of five flavours (creamy hazelnut, raspberry white, salted caramel, matcha white, and the basic milkless option). The conventional dairy element is substituted with creamed coconut.

Humans are continually striving to make progress towards a better world, and that includes making conscious food choices. This might be just chocolate – but it’s part of something much bigger.

Chorizo alternative from Pow! Foods

Pow! Foods

Pow! Foods produces meat alternatives that are scientifically designed to contain more protein and less fat than their animal-based counterparts.

The startup was founded by Amy Leon in Chile. Her team has researched the interaction between different plant proteins and used that knowledge to design a unique biotech process that replicates the flavour and texture of meat without the need for animals or additives.

Pow! Foods has a strong focus on minimising the involvement of animals in the global food system and lessening the impact of our food choices on the environment.

Be sure to stay up-to-date with our blog. We’ll regularly be posting news and information about the startups in our latest cohort here. Meanwhile, if you’re the founder of a startup and would like to join the ProVeg Incubator in 2021, then apply now. 

Meet the team: Alan Ramos

Alan Ramos is the Programme & Startup Coordinator at the ProVeg Incubator. He is originally from Mexico but was raised mainly in the United States. After graduating from university, Alan moved to Taiwan to continue his Mandarin Chinese studies before joining the Incubator in early 2019.

Alan, what do you do at the ProVeg Incubator?

As the Programme & Startup Coordinator, I am actively involved in putting the cohort together, (recruiting, screening, interviewing, and selecting startups). Afterwards, I provide support by putting together tailored programme topics and content for our selection of startups.

During the programme, I support startups by coaching them through workshop activities, deliverables and strategic planning. Lastly, I manage our alumni community with post-incubation check-ins to continue providing support after startups graduate from the Incubator. 

How did you end up working in this position?

After receiving my Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy, I was admitted to law school in the US. However, I chose to defer my admission for one year while I moved to Taiwan to master my Chinese language learning.

During my time in Taiwan, I realised that what I was truly passionate about was improving our current climate crisis and its collateral damages. Once I came across a project that addressed these issues through my second biggest passion, food, I knew I had to take part. 

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I often find myself saying how grateful I feel to wholeheartedly love my job.

Working with so many diverse teams and innovative products allows me to learn something new every day. However, one of my favorite aspects of the job is working closely and learning from amazingly talented entrepreneurs from around the world united by the same mission.

It is incredibly motivating and nourishing to find oneself in a room full of people from different backgrounds and walks of life all pushing for positive change.  

What are some of the challenges of your job?

Because our project is so dynamic, there are always new and exciting challenges to face. However, one of the main challenges is not being able to help all the interesting projects that apply to our programme.

There are so many talented teams and amazing ideas from around the world aimed at helping us achieve our mission to reduce global animal consumption by 50% by the year 2040.

Choosing which companies to support is always a challenge because you want to help so many of them, but that is of course, not always possible.  

What are the values that drive you?

The values that drive me are environmentalism, social justice, and human rights. It is important for me to help create and co-exist in a society where all beings are recognised, respected, and appreciated for their differences.

It’s important for me to conduct myself with integrity, humility, and love and treat others with empathy, dignity, and respect.

Alan, tell us three interesting facts about yourself?

  1. I’ve lived and worked on three different continents. 
  2. I spend a lot of my time in the kitchen cooking up the plant-based goodness. 
  3. I’m a martial arts enthusiast. I’ve competed in mixed martial arts and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and actively train both. 

What are your top three podcast/book/documentary recommendations?

  1. Las Venas Abiertas de América Latina [book]
  2. Ice On Fire [documentary]
  3. How I Built This [podcast]

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Mainly spending time with friends. I like attending festivals, gatherings, and going out for food together. When I’m by myself, I enjoy writing, reading, and exercising. 

If your flat was on fire, what items would you save? (assume family and pets are safe)

I would save my bag of personal collections, which include photos, postcards, and notes from friends and my bill collection, which contains bills from most of the countries I’ve visited.

How do we pick the startups we work with?

The ProVeg Incubator team is currently reviewing applications from founders looking to join its next batch of startups. The process involves analysing all of the companies that apply, conducting interviews, and hosting pitch sessions. How do we move through these phases to select a new cohort? Read on to find out.

“How do you pick the startups that you work with?” is a question that we often get asked at the ProVeg Incubator.

Every year, we work with around 20 startups, split across two batches. To select those companies, we run a global call for entries, and we always get more companies applying than we could possibly work with.

Our most recent call for entries closed on 31 July and we received a record number of applications. Since then, the Incubator team has been diligently reviewing all of the applications and deciding which companies to move forward with.

Delving into the details

The first stage is to analyse the written application that startups submit via our website. At this point, we are looking mainly at the type of product or service a startup is offering, as well as the team and what kind of progress the company has made to date.

For the upcoming cohort, we are particularly interested in startups developing egg, chicken, and seafood alternatives. However, we will of course also be accepting companies that are working on other exciting and impactful innovations.

The second stage in our process is to conduct an (online) interview with the founders we are keen to move forward with. This helps us get to know the people behind the projects, and learn more about how they plan to build their startups. It also allows us to identify the areas in which they will need the most support.

Finally, we reach the pitch round. The startups that have made it this far have five minutes to pitch their companies and products to a panel of ProVeg Incubator team members and external experts. The pitch is followed by a Q&A session.

This is an opportunity for us to delve deeper into the details of a company and look at everything from financing and product development to branding, go-to-market strategies, and team development.

It’s also a chance for founders to ask us questions and learn more about the programme we offer. At this point, we also ask startups to provide certain documents, such as financial projections, and clarify any remaining questions they may have.

Then comes the hardest part (for us at least) – deciding which startups to invite to join the Incubator.

Founders of alumni startups Legendairy, Better Nature, Panvega, and Greenwise

The final stretch

During each stage of the assessment process, we unfortunately have to let some startups go. That means that, by the time we come to the point of selecting the final cohort, we are down to what we believe to be the strongest companies.

We use all of the information and feedback that we have gathered during our evaluations to make the final decision. There are a number of key factors that we examine, which we covered in more detail in our blog post: What do we look for in a startup?

In short, you need to have a strong team, an innovative product or service, and your mission should align with ours. As part of the organisation ProVeg, we are working to reduce the global consumption of animals by 50% by the year 2040. 

If your startup doesn’t contribute to that mission, it doesn’t make much sense for us to work together. In addition, your business model should be defensible and scalable. By supporting companies that tick all of these boxes, we’re giving ourselves the best chance of being as impactful as possible. That’s important to us.

Every startup that joins the ProVeg Incubator receives a grant of €20,000. Following completion of the programme, ProVeg has the option to invest a further €30,000 to €180,000 in those startups. This means that we also look at how much investment potential a startup has to offer. 

What if I didn’t get in?

If you didn’t get selected to join the ProVeg Incubator this time around, don’t be disheartened. The process is very competitive. We receive many applications to join the programme and can only select a handful of them to work with each round.

Not getting in does not mean that your startup is not good or that your ideas are not valuable. It could be that your mission doesn’t align closely enough with ours or that you need to strengthen your team in order to achieve your ambitious goals. If you believe in what you are doing, then we encourage you to keep going! 

Don’t forget, you are always welcome to apply again to join the Incubator in the future. We also host various events and webinars and publish informative content on our blog and social media. Be sure to follow us on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter for all the latest updates.

Meet the team: Albrecht Wolfmeyer

Albrecht Wolfmeyer is the Head of the ProVeg Incubator. He was born in Heilbronn and has lived in Heidelberg, Toronto, Paris, and – since the roaring 1990s – in Berlin. Albrecht joined the ProVeg Incubator in October 2018. Read on to find out about what motivates him, the challenges of the job, and how he spends his free time.

Albrecht, what do you do at the ProVeg Incubator?

I work as the Head of the ProVeg Incubator. That means that I build and manage the Incubator team and develop our long-term strategy, which includes startup investments and internationalisation. In addition, I build partnerships with investors, corporates, and innovation hubs around the globe, and secure long-term funding of the ProVeg Incubator.

How did you end up working in this position?

I studied social sciences and association/nonprofit management. I worked first as a political journalist, and then as a corporate marketing specialist and project manager at a consulting firm. After that, I moved from the corporate to the nonprofit world to make a difference for children, animals, the environment, and the planet. 

What do you enjoy most about your job?

At ProVeg and the ProVeg Incubator I can bring in my diverse experience and also learn new things every day. Working with an awesome team, mission-driven food startups, and partners in the alternative protein space is exciting and never boring.

What are some of the challenges of your job?

Stick to the plan, stick to the mission. There are so many interesting ideas and projects that can distract us from our mission to take animals out of the food equation. We have to ignore them. Get enough sleep. Be good, do good. Balance life and work. 

What are the values that drive you?

Respect all species, diversity, and otherness. Appreciate people’s efforts. Promote good food. Make a difference in the world.

Tell us three interesting facts about yourself?

  1. I gave up on meat (and religion) when I was a kid.
  2. I have twins called Leo and Tom. They are the most awesome little boys around.
  3. I co-founded a social startup to develop software as a service for charities to combine online fundraising, social media, and gamification (which failed terribly and was a great learning experience). 

What are your top three podcast/book/documentary recommendations?

Coronavirus Update from NDR Info / Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami / The Game Changers

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Foosball, biking, snowboarding, reading, walking, thinking.

If your flat was on fire, what items would you save? (assume family and pets are safe)

My journals, laptop, and hard drives (for photos).

The digital cohort: how did we do it?

For the last three months, we have been incubating 10 food startups from across the globe. However, due to Covid-19, we couldn’t actually meet any of the founders in person to deliver our accelerator programme. So, we adapted. How did we do it and how did things turn out? Read on to find out.

Back in March, nearly the whole world went into lockdown. When the coronavirus hit, we were preparing to welcome a new batch of startups to the ProVeg Incubator programme. In fact, we were just two weeks away from launch day.

We had accepted 10 companies to join what would be our fourth cohort at the Incubator. The founders were based all over the globe, from Australia to Chile to India to Sweden. 

Normally, the startup teams would travel to Berlin to participate in the accelerator programme. With international travel restricted, however, and cities the world over heading into quarantine, this was not going to be possible.

Stand up for startups

The Incubator team had a decision to make: do we carry on with the programme, or do we cancel it? In hindsight, it could have been a complicated choice but the truth is, we all knew what we wanted to do. We wanted the programme to go ahead. Here’s why:

  • We were motivated to work with the 10 startups we had selected. They have strong teams and are working on impactful projects, including seafood alternatives, plant-based baby food, and fermented dairy alternatives. 
  • The founders needed our help now more than ever. Under the difficult circumstances of Covid-19, startups are facing even more challenges. At the Incubator, we have the resources and networks that young companies need and we wanted to put them to use in these trying times.
  • It presented a learning opportunity. We were being challenged to change our programme unexpectedly. Perhaps we would find new ways to help our startups that we otherwise wouldn’t have discovered. We were keen to find out.

So the decision was made. Despite Covid-19, we were going to stand up for startups and run our first-ever digital cohort. In just a few weeks, we converted our entire accelerator programme to an online format and we were ready to go. 

Overall, we are extremely happy with how it turned out and all 10 startups made significant progress during the three months that we worked together. So, let’s have a closer look at what worked well for our digital cohort and what we missed out on while working under social distancing.

Fireside chat with Jody Puglisi, Scientific Advisor to Beyond Meat

What we loved about the digital cohort

  • 99.9% of our sessions functioned well online. We could still host workshops, fireside chats, feedback sessions, and roundtable discussions as we would have done in-house.
  • Being online allowed us to bring in new speakers and coaches from further afield. For example, some experts in the US were keen to host a one-hour webinar with us but perhaps wouldn’t have been able to commit to a session in person.
  • The interactions online were brilliant. There was so much energy in our sessions, with plenty of questions, solutions, and positive collaborations among the group.
  • The advances in technology allowed us all to see, hear, and interact with one another, with relatively few hiccups.
  • By not travelling to Germany, our startups were able to cut down on their travel costs and CO2 emissions.

What we missed during our digital cohort

  • With our startups being based all over the world, differing time zones were a challenge. For every session, we had to consider what time it would be in Australia, Israel, and South America, in order to make sure no-one was getting up at 4 am to join a workshop!
  • The food. Shipping samples from country to country became trickier and the process took longer. Under the circumstances, opportunities for hosting tasting events in order to showcase the startup products were also far more limited.
  • We learned how valuable meeting people face-to-face is. Even with all of the advantages of modern technology, we still love spending time with our founders in person.

The fourth edition of the ProVeg Incubator accelerator programme came to an end on July 17th. All ten startups graduated from the Incubator after pitching their companies to a panel of investors at our Startup Demo Day. 

Due to Covid-19, the majority of the guests were online, but five of our startups managed to join the Incubator team in Berlin for the event. Finally, after three months, at least a few of us got to meet in person! We are extremely proud to have all of these pioneering companies in our alumni and we are looking forward to continuing our collaboration with all of them, going forward.

The next cohort

We will be working with our next batch of startups from October 2020. We don’t yet know exactly what the format will be for that round of the programme. But we do know that it will largely depend on the circumstances surrounding Covid-19. Ideally, we would opt for a mix of in-house and remote weeks, but we are still waiting to see what will be possible.

If you are interested in joining the ProVeg Incubator, we are accepting applications from startup founders right now. Just go to the Apply section of our website and submit your application.

– Your Incubator team.

What can an incubator do for your business?

When joining a business incubator, it’s important that the partnership is a good fit for both the company and the incubator. Entrepreneurs want to receive high-quality support, while incubators want to find startups that have significant growth and impact potential. Signing up for an incubator is not the only way to grow your company, but we (obviously!) think it’s a good one. Let’s take a closer look…

It can be daunting to take an idea that you’ve come up with and share it with the world. Doing so opens your plans up to feedback, criticism, and judgment. It may expose weaknesses in your concepts or raise questions you hadn’t considered yet. However, it’s essential for entrepreneurs who want to improve, innovate, and ultimately succeed.  

Incubators exist in order to support startups and help them succeed. They can offer funding, industry contact networks, and invaluable resources. However, they will also challenge you, question your ideas, and give you constructive feedback. This is a good thing. 

Building a company is extremely rewarding but it’s also a lot of hard work, and you’ll be glad you tackled any potential problem areas as early as you could. The staff working in incubators have specific areas of expertise and they’ve worked with plenty of startups before. They are great at recognising what you’re doing well and helping you to build on that. They’ll also identify potential pitfalls in your company and help you to avoid or solve them.

Are you almost ready to take the plunge? To help you decide, here are five positive things that an incubator can do for your business:

1. Gives you access to information

Incubators are hives of valuable information. The teams employed there are made up of experts who have worked with many startups before. They’re also really well connected to investors, retailers, and other organisations in the space. 

What’s more, the environment in an incubator is one of creativity and innovation. Entrepreneurs are keen to bounce ideas off of one another. If you’re facing a challenge, it’s likely that someone else is facing something similar, or has already solved it! By joining an Incubator, you’re joining a collaborative community that is difficult to replicate elsewhere.

Investor panel at the ProVeg Incubator Startup Demo Day

2. Introduces you to the right people

Networking is absolutely essential. While incubators provide startups with in-house services, they also offer expertise and coaching from outside sources too. These networks can help to break down the barriers of technology, retail markets, and financing. 

You’ll meet people who you need to know and who will introduce you to other key contacts. If you’ve ever tried cold-calling or emailing, you’ll know that getting a personal introduction to an investor, retailer, or business mentor makes things a whole lot easier.

3. Opens up funding options

Finding funding can be one of the biggest challenges for a startup and is a pressing priority. Incubators can save you time and money by connecting you with suitable investors. What’s more, many incubators actually invest in startups themselves.

The ProVeg Incubator, for example, works with many investors, and when you are ready, we’ll introduce you to the right people. We also include funding as part of our programme. 

Every startup to join the ProVeg Incubator receives a €20,000 grant. There is also the option to potentially invest a further €30,000 to €180,000, following a startup’s completion of the programme.

The Nu Company plant-based chocolate products from our first cohort of startups

4. Provides you with a unique testing ground

Validating an innovative idea is a crucial step for entrepreneurs in determining if an idea is actually viable and scalable as a business. Incubators monitor how startups plan to address market needs and give them feedback in order to improve. Proper validation outside of an incubator space can be more difficult to obtain. 

There’s also less risk associated with testing out your product or service while on an incubator programme. It’s a great chance to iron out the kinks in your business before launching in the real world. If your product is a flop with consumers on the retail market, you might not always get a second chance, even if it’s only a minor tweak that is needed.

5. Accelerates your growth

While nothing is guaranteed, incubators are recognised as boosting the probability of startup success. In one study, the five-year survival rate of startups that participated in incubator programmes was estimated at an impressive 75-87%.

By joining an Incubator you’re also signing up for a programme that runs for a specific length of time. You’ll want to get the most out of it. 

Three months of intensive networking opportunities, workshops, product development and testing, pitching, and coaching sessions will drive your company forward at an impressive pace. Not to mention, you’ll likely garner valuable media attention which can really propel your business into the spotlight.

Are you feeling inspired now?

If you’re feeling inspired by what you’ve read here today and feel that a startup incubator would be the right fit for your company, we have some good news! The ProVeg Incubator is currently accepting applications. If you have an innovative food product or brand, then we would love to hear from you. Just go to the application section of our website and fill in the online application form. Good luck!

What do we look for in a startup?

At the ProVeg Incubator, we typically work with around 20 startups each year, split across two cohorts. We receive a large number of applications for these limited slots – so how do we select who to work with? What are we looking for in a startup and in the founding team? Read on to find out. 

From plant-based seafood to dairy alternatives and cellular agriculture, the ProVeg Incubator has worked with a strong and diverse array of startups in our 18-month history. Thus far, the Incubator has supported 46 startups from around the world, helping them to raise over €22 million and launch more than 40 products. 

Although our alumni startups are varied, they have a number of key attributes in common. These qualities made them stand out to us and ultimately encouraged us to accept them onto our accelerator programme. We like to keep our application process open and transparent – our Incubator should be a good fit for you and for us. So here is a rundown of the top five things we are looking for in a startup.

Your mission

Why does your company exist? What is your goal? In general, when establishing a startup, it’s crucial to have a mission. It’s your reason for being. For us, it’s important that your mission aligns with ours. As part of the food awareness organisation ProVeg International, we are working to reduce the global consumption of animals by 50% by the year 2040. 

In the plant-based space, there are many companies doing great things, and that’s exciting to see. However, for us, it is key that the startups we support are working to remove animals from the global food system, rather than simply being plant-based by nature. This means your project should have the potential to transform the global food culture – by replacing traditional animal-based foods with plant, fungi, recombinant, or cultured solutions.

That’s why you will see us working with, for example, companies in the plant-based dairy, alternative meat, and cellular-agriculture spaces. They offer promising alternatives that allow animals to be removed from the food chain. 

The founders of Incubator alumni startup Legendairy, an alternative dairy company.

Your team

The founding team is perhaps the most important element of any startup. We want to know who you are and why you are the right person or people to drive the project to success. In order to answer these questions, we look at your professional and educational background, industry experience, and skills. We also want to see evidence of your passion. If you are highly motivated and enthusiastic about your startup, that makes us excited to work with you. It also makes you far more likely to succeed. 

Generally speaking, we find founding teams of at least two people to be the ideal setup. Every person on the team needs a specific, defined role, and the skill sets represented should complement one another rather than overlap. Likewise, there shouldn’t be any major skill gaps on your team that could stall your project.

That said, we do accept solo startup founders to our programme. If you come to us with a great idea and the right energy, then, of course, we will consider you for the Incubator. What’s crucial is your drive and passion. After all, you can’t hire that on LinkedIn. 

Impact and scalability

We are looking for companies with sound business models that have the potential for major impact. The innovation that you present to us should be able to function on a large scale. Otherwise, it might not help us to reach the mission that ProVeg and its partners are striving to achieve. 

It’s okay if your startup is still in the early stages when you apply for the Incubator programme, but the ability to scale your business model, ingredients, and process in the future is vital. 

Thinking about your long-term vision for the company also shows that you are ambitious. It tells us that you want to make a real difference in the world with your project, which takes us back to point one – aligning with our mission.

The third cohort of startups at the ProVeg Incubator.

Defensibility 

Having strong competitive advantages will increase the chances of your startup becoming successful. Defensibility, however, is what will help you stay there. You need to be able to protect what you’re doing from the competition.

Perhaps you are planning to protect your product under intellectual property (IP) rights,  using patents or trademarks, or maybe you are planning to focus on building a recognisable brand with a stellar team. Perhaps you’ve worked in this industry before and that gives you the inside track.

There is no magic bullet for defensibility. If you are building something that is truly great, others will want to replicate it, and that creates competition. You just need to have a strategy for how you’ll deal with that – either by protecting your innovation or outpacing or outperforming your competitors.

Your product category 

We consider applications from startups working in all product and service categories – from plant-based drinks and snacks to cultured meat and dairy proteins produced by precision fermentation. However, if you bring something new to the table we’ll be excited about that. 

It could be an idea that hasn’t been worked on before, or you have a completely new take on an existing product. Perhaps you have identified a gap in the market that is under-represented or you are working in an industry that’s still in its infancy. You could be just the right team to fill that space!

We hope that you feel inspired to join the ProVeg Incubator and if you think we would make a good match, then we’d love to hear from you! We are currently accepting applications for our next cohort and you can apply directly on our website.

Maybe you still have questions? Check out our FAQ page or contact us on social media and we’d be happy to help.

 – Your Incubator Team

Startups wanted! Apply now

Are you a food innovator with a passion for plant-based nutrition or cultured food? If so, then maybe you are just who we are looking for! We will be recruiting up to 10 innovative companies to join our next cohort of startups and you can apply now. Are you a good fit for the role? Let’s find out…

Who you’ll work with: ProVeg Incubator

Where you’ll work: Berlin, Germany + home office

What you’ll earn: up to €200,000

Application deadline: Sunday, 7 February 2021

Apply: Fill in the application

Role description

We are looking for innovative, highly motivated founders to join our next cohort of startups at the ProVeg Incubator. Your startup should be focused on plant, fungi, or recombinant food products or solutions, or cellular agriculture. 

It’s important that your company has the potential to remove animals from the food system. This means, for example, replacing conventional animal-based products, rather than your products simply being plant-based.

If selected for the Incubator, you will join our three-month accelerator programme and will need to work hard to build and improve your company. In return, we’ll support you with all of the tools, skills, and contacts you need to succeed.

The ProVeg Incubator is the world’s leading Incubator for plant-based and cultured food startups. Since its launch in November 2018, our team has worked with 46 startups from around the world, helping them to raise more than €22 million and launch over 40 products. 

Your profile

  • You are the founder or co-founder of a food or beverage startup working on plant, fungi, recombinant, or cultured food products or solutions. 
  • Your startup is dedicated to the mission of reducing the global consumption of animals. 
  • You are working on an idea that could replace conventional animal-based products or services and has the potential to have a major impact.
  • Your startup has a sound business model that is scalable, defensible, and backed by a stellar team. 
  • You are passionate, hard-working, and ambitious.

What we offer

  • A three-month, tailor-made accelerator programme based in Europe’s startup capital.
  • Up to €200,000 in funding.
  • One-on-one mentoring from leading food industry experts.
  • Access to our extensive professional networks of investors, mentors, and other industry experts.
  • Lifelong membership of our startup alumni community, as well as the opportunity to collaborate with fellow founders in your cohort.
  • Exclusive workshops, talks, events, investor introductions, and the use of ProVeg services such as V-label certification and our research department.
  • Access to our large, open-plan co-working space and test kitchen in the heart of Berlin.
  • Marketing and PR support for your startup and promotion via the ProVeg Incubator channels.
  • Fresh fruits and a daily plant-based lunch. We’ll also invite you to play ping-pong and kicker with us!

Requirements

  • Active participation in the three-month ProVeg Incubator accelerator programme. At least one founder must also be available to attend the online and/or in-house sessions (Covid-19 dependent) of the programme.
  • We conduct the programme in English. This doesn’t have to be your first language, but you will require a good level of understanding.
  • Once the programme is complete, you will join our lifelong Incubator alumni community. We may call on you from time to time to support future startups that we work with. It’s not really a requirement, but it would be nice if you did.

How to apply

This is the easy part. To apply to join our next cohort of startups, all you have to do is fill in the application form on our website.

If you have any questions, check out our FAQ section. If there’s anything else you need to know, please feel free to get in touch with us on social media or via email. We’d be more than happy to hear from you. Good luck with your application!

– Your Incubator Team

Meet our latest batch of startups 

At the ProVeg Incubator, we work with two cohorts of pioneering startups each year, supporting them to develop and market innovative and disruptive new products and solutions. Today (27 April), we are officially launching our fourth batch of startups. Due to Covid-19, we will be hosting this cohort completely online. Read on to meet the startups.

Today is an exciting day at the ProVeg Incubator. Ten new startups from across the globe are (virtually) joining our accelerator programme. We’ll be working with the founders of these companies extremely closely over the coming three months, and supporting them in taking their businesses to the next level. 

Selected from a record number of applications, the startups are working on unique and diverse products and food solutions, from jackfruit meat alternatives to plant-based baby food and fermented dairy products. However, they are united by a common goal: to disrupt the global food system. So, without further ado, here they are!

Meet the startups 

Hooked: Hooked is a plant-based seafood company that Emil Wasteson and Tom Johansson founded in Stockholm, Sweden. Their first products are shredded tuna and salmon. The team at Hooked is tackling health and sustainability challenges in the seafood industry by offering nutritious, healthy, plant-based alternatives.

The founders of Hooked, Emil Wasteson and Tom Johansson

Meet Jack: Founded by Marjolein Pleune and Kaline Van Halder (pictured in main image), Meet Jack is an alternative meat company from Haarlem in the Netherlands. Their products are based on jackfruit, with their range including Dutch meatballs, croquettes, and burgers. Jackfruit has a naturally meaty texture and doesn’t require any chemicals to grow.

Zveetz: An impact-driven, smart-food company that focuses on sugar-free plant-based desserts, Zveetz was founded by Christian Krause and Vishal Kawatra in Berlin, Germany. The duo founded their startup after battling personal and family health issues due to the overconsumption of sugar. Their first line of products is a plant-based mousse range.

Devon Garden: Devon Garden is an alternative-dairy company founded by Cesar Torres in Exeter, England. The startup has developed a plant-based pea milk and is working on protein extraction methods to create sustainable, new alternatives to dairy products without the cow.

Heuros: Founded by Nick Beaumont, Heuros is a cellular-agriculture startup from Brisbane, Australia. The team has developed a growth medium free from animal ingredients and genetic engineering or modification. It can be used to grow cultured meat and poultry. Heuros will supply its medium to producers of cultured meat and will also develop its own line of products in-house.

I Love You Veggie Much: Producers of organic, plant-based baby food optimised to meet the nutritional needs of infants and toddlers, I Love You Veggie Much was founded by Susanne Komorek and Darja Pilz in Berlin, Germany. The company’s flagship product will be a cereal-based breakfast meal for youngsters aged 6-24 months.

Wholyfood: Wholyfood develops and sells its own range of plant-based bowls, dips, and sauces –  including mayonnaise, tzatziki, sour cream, and pesto – for food service. The startup was founded by Anthony and Adrien Masseli, Julien Amsellem, and Camille Tomat in Paris, France.

The founders of I Love You Veggie Much, Susanne Komorek and Darja Pilz

The Live Green Co: Founded by Priyanka Srinivas and Sasikanth Chemalamudi in Chile, The Live Green Co uses smart technology for the development of plant-based products. The aim is to make plant-based foods healthier, tastier, and more sustainable using biotechnology and machine learning.

Mister Veg: Producers of textured meat and seafood alternatives that have a focus on nutrition, taste, and sustainability, Mister Veg was founded by Simarjeet Singh and Rupinder Singh in Faridabad, India. Their products are available both as ready meals and as base ingredients such as plant-based mince and salmon.

Remilk: Remilk uses precision fermentation to create dairy proteins for the production of alternative dairy products. Aviv Wolff and Ori Cohavi founded the company in Tel Aviv, Israel. The team at Remilk is passionate about developing quality products using animal-free processes.

In response to the Covid-19 outbreak, the ProVeg Incubator has taken the decision to host its spring 2020 cohort online. The Incubator is committed to keeping its startups, mentors, and staff safe, and is adhering to all regulatory standards in order to flatten the curve and minimise the spread of the virus. 

Be sure to stay tuned as we’ll be updating our blog regularly with news and information about the startups in our latest cohort. If you’re the founder of a startup and would like to take part in our fifth cohort, provisionally starting in October, then apply now.

How we’re standing up for startups

Stay informed. In this update, we talk about our upcoming cohort of startups, how we’ll be supporting them through these challenging months, and what we’ll be doing to play our part in flattening the curve.

Coronavirus is having a huge global impact. Everyone is feeling the effect in one way or another. For some, that’s in a professional capacity, for others, it’s more noticeable in their personal lives. For many, it’s present in both of these spheres. 

At the Incubator, our team switched to working from home a few weeks ago and since then we have definitely found our groove, but there are challenges too. For established businesses and startups, this is a particularly difficult and uncertain time. As a startup incubator, it’s our job to provide stability, to help founders navigate hurdles, adapt to the situation and to enable them to build, grow, and push forward under adversity.

So, that’s exactly what we’re going to do. We’ve had to tweak and update our plans for the coming months, but we’re all in the same boat there. It can be tough, but it can be exciting too. We’re finding new ways of working and new opportunities to engage with people that we hadn’t always focused on before. Read on to find out how we’ll be handling our next cohort of startups in the coming months. 

Working from home presents challenges but also plenty of new opportunities

First, some good news

You might remember, we recently ran a campaign searching for startups to join ProVeg Incubator in our spring cohort. We are delighted to say that we received a record number of applications! At a time like this, it’s inspiring for us to see such a large number of people working to have a positive impact on the world. 

At ProVeg Incubator, our goal is to support plant-based and cultured food startups that have the potential to significantly impact the global food system. Our team has spent the last month studying all of the applications we received from exciting and innovative startups. We’ve been speaking with founders from all over the world, listening to business pitches, and taking on the tough task of coming up with a shortlist. 

We have now selected ten pioneering startups to join our fourth cohort. The group originates from nine different countries and represents a whole range of innovative, new product types and services. We can’t tell you who they are just yet, but we are really looking forward to sharing that list soon!

The digital cohort 

Due to the ongoing global situation with coronavirus, we have decided to move our spring 2020 cohort of startups online. Emerging companies are facing new challenges during this difficult time and need our support more than ever. It’s therefore important for us to keep the Incubator functioning as normally as we can.

Our top priority is providing the best support possible while keeping everyone safe. By hosting our upcoming three-month accelerator programme online, we can continue to support startups with the training, mentoring, and networking they need to grow their businesses. We’ll just be doing it from the relative comfort of our own homes. We’re also lucky enough to live in a time where digital technology makes this totally feasible. We’re looking at you, Zoom. 

By moving our programme online, startup founders, mentors, and the Incubator team can avoid international travel and continue to comply with regulations to help flatten the curve. We’re already in the midst of planning a host of digital events, workshops, and networking opportunities and can’t wait to share them with our startups. The new cohort will officially start with us (from afar) on Monday 27 April. 

In the coming months, we’ll publish content on this blog and in our newsletter to help startups during this tough time and beyond. Signing up for our email updates is quick and easy and we only include the best bits – promise. Just scroll down to the bottom of this page. 

Stay safe, your Incubator team.