BOULDER, Colo. — Bond Pet Foods, Inc., a pet food startup with the goal of using fermentation technology to create animal-free but protein-rich companion animal diets, announced Dec. 4 it closed its seed funding round with $1.2 million in investments.

The investment round was led by Lever VC, a venture capital fund focused on supporting alternative protein initiatives. Other investors included Agronomics, KBW Ventures, Plug and Play Ventures and Andante Asset Management.

"What makes us so excited about Bond Pet Foods is that it's the first clean-meat company producing meat protein in a way that doesn't require major technological breakthroughs to get to price parity with conventional meat," said Nick Cooney, founder and managing partner at Lever VC.

Bond Pet Foods is using a proprietary method of cellular agriculture to grow high-quality animal proteins, such as chicken, turkey, beef, pork and fish. The startup avoids slaughtering livestock by extracting muscle genes from the animal, adding the genes to a microbe such as yeast, then fermenting them.

During fermentation, the company “feeds” the cells simple sugars, vitamins and minerals to grow proteins that are “nutritionally identical to their meat counterparts,” according to Bond Pet Foods.

The company said funding will drive research and development and help Bond Pet Foods scale its protein production process. Its goal is to release a dog treat formulated with pure, fermented yeast protein by early 2020.

"This raise gives us the capital to make strides with our technology and introduce pet parents to a new and better way of feeding their dogs and cats," said Rich Kelleman, co-founder and CEO of Bond Pet Foods. "We started Bond to deliver high nutrition to our pets without harm to other animals or to our planet, and we're excited to bring our transformative products to the world in the months ahead."

Bond Pet Food was one of five finalists in Purina’s 2019 Pet Care Innovation Prize competition and was one of two companies that brought innovative ideas for pet food and pet treat ingredients to the table. The startup also participated in Purina’s Pet Care Innovation Summit in early October.

The company was founded in 2017 by Kelleman, Pernilla Audibert, co-founder and chief technical officer, and Luis Brandao, senior research scientist, on the idea of providing pet owners an environmentally sustainable and animal welfare-conscious option without sacrificing protein quality or content.

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