SEASON 10 EPISODE 16
eco-friendly alternative protein dog food
550k for 5%
550k for 10%
Capitalizing on the significantly growing interest in alternative proteins is Wild Earth, the biotechnology startup developing clean alternative proteins for pets as a way to reduce the carbon footprint of the pet food industry.
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.
WILD EARTH BEFORE SHARK TANK
Wild Earth was born in August 2017 when a small team of scientists and biotech lead by Ryan Bethencourt, Dr. Ron Shigeta, Abril Estrada, and Kristin Wuhrman decided to take on the opportunity to disrupt the pet food industry with clean and sustainable protein.
The project was inspired by a study released by UCLA on the environmental impact of meat consumption by cats and dogs in the United States that resulted in the equivalent of 64 million tons of carbon dioxide produced per year. That’s 25 to 30 percent of the environmental impact of consuming meat in United States alone.
By March 2018, Wild Earth would introduce its first product made from human-grade Koji – a fungus traditionally used in Japan to ferment soybeans to make soy sauce.
The company would work side by side with Peta to ensure their Koji-based food was digestible by dogs. This meant testing on volunteers animals in cage-free clinical trials that test for palatability and digestibility among other things.
By July of 2018, the alternative protein company had secured $5 million in a seed funding round from a series of investors that include VegInvest, Stray Dog Capital, Felicis Ventures, Blue Horizon, Babel Ventures, EverHope Capital, Macro Ventures, Aera VC, Founders Fund and Thiel Capital founded by PayPal billionaire, Peter Thie
In October 2018, the vegan meat biotech company would release its first consumer product – Wild Earth’s Good Protein Dog Snacks – the first dog treat ever to be made with the lab grown, Koji-based protein.
So why is a pet food company attracting the attention of big name billionaires and large investment firms? As some astute viewers have noted, the pet food industry is an opportunity for the company to test the results of its main selling point – its Koji based protein which has the potential to replace animal-based proteins for human consumption. Are you ready for a Koji burger?
WILD EARTH ON SHARK TANK
Wild Earth entered the Tank in March 2019, represented by Bethencourt, seeking $550,000 for 5% of the company – an $11 million valuation.
When asked about the valuation, the already accomplished biotech entrepreneur, defended it by saying it was based on “a lot of R & D”. Bethencourt also argued the demand for a vegan and ethically sourced dog food and pointed out that Wild Earth had already raised $4 million from investors, including PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel and venture capital firm Felicis Ventures.
Many of the Sharks, feel the valuation is still too steep and they go out leaving only one Shark, Mark Cuban, with an offer on the table. Bethencourt reveals that the founders own a little less than 50% of the company with himself owning 20%.
Mark offers Bethencourt $550k for 10% contingent on the company sticking on their 1-2 products rather than trying to capture the entire spectrum of pet foods – a deal which Bethencourt ultimately accepts.
LIFE AFTER SHARK TANK
Wild Earth treats are available in five-ounce bags through their Shopify online store, Amazon.com, at select brick-and-mortar retail stores, and wholesale to pet food retailers.
WILD EARTH REVIEWS
Reviews for the Wild Earth’s Koji-based dog food are fairly decent. Some customers love the idea of an eco-friendly, sustainable dog food, some believe dogs are not meant to be on a vegan diet, while others feel the price is simply too high.
Wild Earth remains a healthier option compared to the current pet food standard of fillers, preservatives and hormone-laden animal meats. Hopefully in time, Wild Earth will become a more economically viable option.
WILD EARTH ALTERNATIVES
Not yet ready to make the alternative protein leap for your dog? Try these other healthy alternatives: