Here’s how to make whole-cut meat alternatives with real impact

ReWILD is an India-based meat-alternative manufacturer that is developing whole-cut meat alternatives aimed at the mass market. Prateek Patra and Dr. Sapan Kumar founded the startup and both are part of the eighth cohort at the ProVeg Incubator. This is the ReWILD story.

What does your startup do and what is your mission?

Prateek Patra: ReWILD’s mission is to eradicate animal slaughter and human malnutrition, and mitigate climate change by offering whole-cut meat alternatives that have the taste, texture, and mouthfeel of animal-based meat. The company’s products are nutritional and nutraceutical powerhouses that do not contain any antibiotics, pesticides, or allergens.

The meat will be affordable and targeted at a mass market, unlike many plant-based meat offerings currently available in India. ReWILD’s proprietary technology allows its meat to be produced in just two weeks. The products will be highly versatile – just like traditional whole-cuts – in order to help chefs and other consumers make any type of dish that they want.

Where did the idea for your company come from? 

Sapan Kumar: During the early years of his career in investment banking, my Cofounder, Prateek Patra, advised several meat and dairy companies in India about raising capital. During that time, he learned about the many animal-welfare issues happening in this space and how the meat and dairy sectors were impacting climate and human health.

Prateek immediately turned vegan in response. Over the next few years, he became increasingly passionate about sustainability and, due to his wide interests, he discovered the world of fungi and its potential.

His idea was to blend all of his learnings and experience into one company which, through its products, has a positive environmental impact. In order to be able to do that, our products have to cater to the masses and at the same time have sustainable economic goals.

Founders of whole-cut meat alternatives brand rewild
Founders of ReWILD Prateek Patra and Dr. Sapan Kumar

Tell us about your team. Why are you the right people for the project?

Sapan Kumar: I am a former Senior Scientist and have 15 years’ experience working with fungi. I’m also the recipient of a Young Scientist grant issued by the Department of Science and Technology in India.

My Cofounder Prateek Patra has eight years’ experience in investment and corporate banking. His family, meanwhile, has a combined 35 years’ experience in the hospitality space and over 50 years’ experience in the distribution of fast moving consumer goods for companies such as Nestle, Cadbury, and Pepsi.

Prateek Patra: We also have two excellent mentors with science and business backgrounds supporting our team. Dr Pramod Rath is a Professor of Molecular Biology at the School of Life Sciences at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. He did his postdoctoral research at the University of Zurich and he has over 30 years of teaching and research experience.

Mr Chandan Ghosh is our business mentor. He has more than 35 years’ experience with Nestle, having headed the companies’ activities in Malaysia, Bangladesh, and Sub-Saharan Africa.

What are your favourite parts about building your business?

Prateek Patra: We strongly believe that the real joy is in the journey. We really enjoy the enthusiasm that each of our members brings to the table to achieve our common dream. Whether it’s scientific brainstorming, strategic planning, or interacting with investors, we give our all. We love each and every step, which helps us to achieve our goals.

What have been the main challenges you’ve faced? 

Sapan Kumar: Our goal is to have products available for the masses, and for that to happen, we need to get into a capital-expenditure cycle. We see funding as the biggest challenge that we need to overcome in order to scale the company.

ReWILD's whole-cut meat alternatives will replicate meats such as chicken
ReWILD is aiming to replicate whole-cut meats such as chicken

What is it that makes your company unique? 

  1. Our meat has the taste, texture and mouthfeel of conventional chicken meat. This is achieved with minimal processing. 
  2. Our meat is a nutritional and nutraceutical powerhouse that does not contain any antibiotics, pesticides, or allergens.
  3. Our product will be affordable in comparison to the plant-based meats currently available on the market
  4. We have a great mix of people from science and business. This will help ensure that we will not just be scientifically successful, but also commercially successful.

Why did you decide to join the ProVeg Incubator? 

  1. Shared vision: after our discussion with the ProVeg team, we were confident that our organisations have aligned impact goals. For us, it’s very important to work with companies and people who have larger-than-life goals that do not focus solely on profitability but which also seek to address social and environmental challenges.
  2. Mentor ecosystem: from our research and speaking to ProVeg Incubator alumni, we learned that the Incubator has an excellent network of mentors from diverse fields. We would love to benefit from their expertise in order to bolster our expansion.
  3. Business support: the fact that the ProVeg team continuously engages with startups like ours is very important to us. Additionally, ProVeg’s programme of funding was very important to us and further demonstrates their commitment to our shared vision. 

In your opinion, what do you think it takes for a startup to be successful? 

Sapan Kumar: Firstly, product-market fit – the product or service has to satisfy a real need in the market. In our case, the most important goal for us is to have positive feedback from our end consumers.

Secondly, positive unit economics – for a company to become profitable, its units have to be profitable or profitable overall. Finally, focus. It has become increasingly clear to us that focusing on a few really great products in the earlier phases can take a young company a long way. After all, there are only a few things you can do really well. 

What do you hope to achieve with your company in the next 12 months?

Prateek Patra: In the next 12 months, we plan to have our final commercial product ready, along with deep compositional analysis, application for patents, food-safety approvals, and branding.

We also plan to do a six-month product-sampling programme. By the end of the year, we ideally want to start sampling and partnering with hotels and restaurants.

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