The Green(wise) Journey

In this blog, we look at the journey of Russian plant-based meat startup Greenwise from our second cohort. Learn about how they got started, burst onto the Russian food market, and what the team is up to now.

Picture this: it’s March 2019 and we’re in Berlin. Dressed in their Greenwise company aprons, co-founders George, Julia, and Tim are running hurriedly to hand out samples of their plant-based jerky to eager attendees of the New Food Conference, Europe’s first conference to focus exclusively on alternative proteins. This would be the trio’s international debut in the food innovation space and the beginning of their relationship with ProVeg. 

Just a few weeks later, Greenwise would join our second cohort of startups, along with ten other promising companies. Among the batch, the startups all had different products and services, but they shared a common mission. They work to reduce the global consumption of animal-based products and joined the Incubator to improve and scale their businesses.

The Greenwise team: Artem Ponomarev, Julia Marsel, and George Zheleznyi

In a diverse cohort comprised of plant-based companies from New Zealand, Hong Kong, Italy, and Germany, Greenwise represented Russia. According to a recent survey, only 1% of the Russian population follows a vegetarian diet and over one third believe excluding meat from your diet is harmful to health. Despite this, the Greenwise vision was clear from the beginning: to become the leading players in plant-based products in Russia. 

Riding the protein wave

The Greenwise team creates products that don’t just imitate the taste and consistency of animal meat but are also versatile and affordable. By using plant proteins, including soy and wheat, they developed a product line of plant-based beef, chicken, and lamb jerky. These snacks contain up to 65% protein. The company’s production facility in the Russian Kaluga region uses innovative technology to create a high-fibrous structure. This helps to gives their meat alternatives chewiness and the texture of conventional meat.

100% Plant-based jerky products from Russian startup Greenwise 

When George, Julia, and Tim came to ProVeg Incubator, they wanted us to help them refine their business strategy. They were clear about their mission, had an attractive product, and were confident that they were the right team to execute.

During the (then) four months of our programme, the team operated between Moscow, where they were based, and Berlin. While with us in Berlin, they attended our exclusive workshops, connected with peers and expert mentors, and worked closely with our Incubator team to build their business. We also took them to exhibit at Seeds & Chips in Milan, Italy. This fair is the world’s leading food innovation summit, where companies can showcase products and validate ideas.  

Up, up, and away…

At the end of the programme, Greenwise pitched their startup in front of high-profile investors at our Demo Day closing event. Here, they surprised guests with a brand new product – Greenwise burgers – demonstrating their technological capabilities and making a clear statement that favorite foods can be made deliciously from plants. The judges awarded Greenwise second place for products and innovation. 

Plant-based burger patty from Greenwise launched at the ProVeg Incubator Demo Day in 2019

Since graduating from the Incubator, the team has continued to push forward and are becoming the rising stars of plant-based meat in Russia. In August 2019, they announced their market launch with a roll-out of their products in over 1,000 Russian stores. To date, their products can be purchased at over 2,000 locations throughout Russia. Their product line has also expanded and now includes three plant-based alternatives: high-fiber vegan meat, dried vegan meat, and vegan ham.

Almost a year since their first showcase, the grass is looking a lot greener over on the Greenwise side. However, we like to think that their journey is just beginning. The team continues to strive towards its goal, to consolidate themselves as key players in the plant-based industry in Russia and beyond. And in this way, move closer to the mission that brought them to ProVeg Incubator in the first place: to remove animals from the food system and create a fairer, healthier, and more sustainable system for us all.

Five reasons to join ProVeg Incubator

Are you a food innovator? Do you have an exciting startup, but need support in getting it off the ground? Then read on!

We are currently searching for promising companies to join ProVeg Incubator as part of our next cohort of startups in spring 2020. Since the Incubator launched in November 2018, we have worked with over 30 startups from 16 countries, helping them to raise more than €8 million and launch over 40 products. Still need convincing? Here are five great reasons to join us…

We’ll give you a €20,000 grant

Yes, you read that correctly. Every startup that joins ProVeg Incubator will receive a €20,000 grant. We’re not saying it’s all about the money, but that’s a significant amount of cash that can really help a business, particularly in the early stages and it can be used to cover travel and accommodation costs while participating in the Incubator programme. There are also options for further seed investment through ProVeg of between €30,000 and €180,000 after completing the programme. 

We know who you need to know 

Everyone has heard the saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know”, right? ProVeg Incubator has an extensive network of partners, investors, retailers, and food industry experts that we will connect you with. Every founder needs support on their entrepreneurial journey and having the right people in your network is essential to achieving your business goals. 

ProVeg Incubator co-working space in Berlin

You’ll get individual mentoring 

We assign every one of our startups with a personal mentor, who is experienced in areas the company needs help with most. We work with over 50 renowned experts, skilled in retail, marketing, investment, business planning, branding, product development, and building a team. They provide support and advice to our startups with regular one-on-one coaching sessions. 

You’ll have access to all of our services 

As well as participating in all of the workshops, expert talks, and exclusive events that are part of our programme, by joining ProVeg Incubator you’ll get access to many other services. For example, our co-working space in Berlin, our 20k+ member test community, and the know-how of our food industry, food services, and research departments. You’ll also benefit from V-Label certification and our links to key industry events, fairs, and media publications. 

Co-founders Christopher Kong and Elin Roberts of ProVeg Incubator alumni startup Better Nature

You’re joining a community

Many of our alumni startups tell us that one of the most valuable assets of our programme is the community it creates. When you join ProVeg Incubator you’ll join a group of like-minded founders with similar goals to transform the global food system. You might all have different products, solutions, and business models, but you’ll face many of the same challenges. You can support and learn from one another. We’ll also connect you with our alumni founders who have been there and done that.

So, ready to apply? Applications are now open for the fourth cohort of startups, kicking off in spring 2020. The programme lasts three months and consists of a mixture of in-house weeks and remote working. Submit your application on our website today. Just click the link or go to the apply section at the top of this page.