Seattle startup Crowd Cow raising more cash to beef up meat marketplace

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Crowd Cow is raising more cash for its meat marketplace.

The Seattle startup just reeled in $15.1 million, according to a new SEC filing posted Monday. Crowd Cow CEO Joe Heitzeberg declined to comment when contacted by GeekWire.

Heitzeberg and his co-founder Ethan Lowry are both listed on the filing, as well as new Crowd Cow CFO Michelle Newbery and Madrona Venture Group Managing Director Scott Jacobson. Seattle-based venture capital firm Madrona led the company’s $8 million Series A funding round in May 2018.

Founded in 2015, Crowd Cow started with the concept that customers would “crowdfund” a cow from a reputable, independent farm or ranch by banding together to purchase cuts of meat. When a whole cow was sold, it was “tipped.”

Now the company has expanded nationwide. Last year it added pork to its catalog and inked a partnership with popular burger chain Shake Shack. This past summer it launched a new local beef program while announcing backing from Ashton Kutcher’s Sound Ventures, which invested in the Series A and put in an additional $1 million at the time as part of a convertible to a future B round.

Crowd Cow’s growth has come despite the rise of alternative meat, with companies such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat capturing the nation’s attention and raising gobs of investment capital. But there is a “growing backlash against the rise of fake meat,” TODAY recently reported.

Direct-to-consumer and environmental sustainability were two of CBInsights‘ food and beverage trends to watch in 2019. The firm also reported that food and beverage investors grew from 128 in 2013 to 459 in 2017.

“We all knew the meat industry needed disrupting,” Mark Canlis, the Seattle restaurateur who is an investor in the startup, said last year. “These guys just did something about it. It isn’t just about a better steak, it’s about a better way to care for the planet, for one another.”

Heitzeberg is a serial entrepreneur, launching and running Snapvine, which was acquired by Whitepages, and then MediaPiston, which UpWork bought. He co-founded Madrona Venture Labs, a Seattle startup studio and incubator.

Lowry previously founded Urbanspoon and then launched Hack Things, maker of Poppy, with Heitzeberg.

Crowd Cow raised a $2 million seed round in January 2017 and had generated $1 million in sales six months later. The company won Startup of the Year honors at the 2018 GeekWire Awards. Other backers include Sound Ventures and Liquid 2 Ventures.

In addition to hiring Newbery, Crowd Cow also in October hired Kathryn Ficarra as head of marketing.

“We have a model that’s well positioned to scale and disrupt the industry, while improving the quality of food available to consumers across the country,” Newbery said in a statement. “We’re leaning in on education around the importance of a healthy, sustainable lifestyle,” added Ficarra. “In connecting our consumers to our farmers, it’s a win-win.”

Source: Geek Wire

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