Milk Startup TurtleTree Secures $80 Million in New Funding Ahead of Its US Launch

Pouring glasses of milk.

Keywords: Startup, Food & Beverage

Cell-based milk startup company TurtleTree Labs raised $80 million in a Series A business funding round led by VERSO Capital. The Singapore-based startup company previously raised $3.2 million and $6.2 million in seed and pre-A funding, respectively.

Fueling Commercialization of New Products

The startup company said it plans to use the raised business funding to continue investing in IP technologies, research new applications, and hire top scientists, as well as product management and business development associates.

TurtleTree aims to roll out its first cell-based dairy ingredients in the United States (US) through a number of “business to business” (B2B) partnerships and fully commercialize its product over the following four to five years. At the moment, TurtleTree Labs is building a major research and development (R&D) manufacturing plant in Davis, California.

“TurtleTree Labs’ mission and operational plan appear to be much broader than the couple of existing competitors, who tend to limit their research to cell-based milk,” said Julien Machot, managing partner at VERSO Capital, which has led TurtleTree Labs’s latest business funding round with $20 million.

“It is a tech platform with a number of verticals — embracing the scientific advancement they are capable of, and developing commercial capabilities to support their large B2B partners and client accounts based on their particular requirements.”

Thanks to higher efficiency and more eco-friendly processing compared to the traditional milk industry, the cell-based milk sector has rapidly gained traction recently. The Israel-based BioMilk became the world’s first publicly-listed cultured milk company when its shares started to exchange hands on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) in April this year.

Machot believes TurtleTree Labs will become the company’s “most significant investment” in cell milk as he expects his company to exit this business investment in the next five to seven years. VERSO will utilize its knowledge of corporate finance and business operations to help the startup company validate its unit economics, Machot added.

TurtleTree Labs said one of its main advantages includes its ability to produce naturally occurring ingredients that exist in human breast milk, such as HMOs Lactoferrin and Alpha-Lactalbumin — which is a source of multiple mammalian cells from bovine, camel, sheep, and goat.

Moreover, the Singapore startup company also believes it holds a competitive advantage due to its unique “business to business to consumer” (B2B2C) model that is expected to pave the way for faster growth than competitors in the same business sector.

“We start off the process by obtaining mammary gland cells from various sources, then multiply these cells, after which we put them in our in-house special lactation media — a liquid of various components that is naturally present in living mammals. The cells then convert this lactation media into milk,” Max Rye, TurtleTree Labs’s co-founder and chief strategist, explained.

TurtleTree Labs also entered into a business partnership with the leading cell culture media supplier JS Bioscience to use its low-cost basal media in an effort to expand into large-scale manufacturing in the future.

The startup company is also planning to fight for a bigger share of the traditional dairy market, or roughly 5% to 10%. The long-term plan is to become “one of the biggest players” in the sustainable food sector.

Summary

Cell-based milk startup TurtleTree Labs secured $80 million in a Series A business funding round led by VERSO Capital. The Singapore-based company will use the fresh business funding to invest in the development of IP technologies, research new applications, and hire the world’s best scientists.

Mariliana Fotopoulou

Mariliana has an MSC in consumer analytics and business strategy. She has a special interest in fast-moving industries and big data.

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