Road to IPO: Malaysian insect protein start-up Ento spearheads crowdfunding campaign
25 Aug 2020 --- Malaysia-based insect protein start-up Ento has launched its equity crowdfunding campaign (ECF) via Fundnel, and is now marketed as one of the world’s first alternative protein companies to raise money via the ECF route. Ento specializes in farming, food tech and distributing edible insects – crickets and larvae – for human consumption. It is currently developing an Ento burger patty, which would largely be plant-based and powered by Ento cricket powder to “replicate the successes of Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods.”
“The long-term goal is to grow our company to initial public offering (IPO) stage, marking the world’s first edible insect protein company to launch an IPO. This can happen within the next seven to ten years given the booming demand for alternative protein and interest in the agri-food sector,” envisions Ento Founder & CEO, Kevin Wu.
“The appetite for investment is also supported by the recent successful IPO by Beyond Meat, which proves there is solid market demand for food technology and alternative protein companies. We are currently raising our seed round via ECF and investors can invest as little as US$1,250 for shares in a fast-growing food tech company,” says Wu.
Ento initially caught public attention in mid 2019 when it launched a range of whole roasted cricket snacks – the first to market in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. Subsequently Ento raised a Pre-Seed round led by Rapzo Capital, a Singapore-based private family office. From the previous fundraise, Ento expanded its product range to include baked goods.
“The Ento burger patty will be higher in protein, more sustainable and all-natural compared to conventional burger patties. To date, Ento works with bakeries, food distributors and manufacturers as well as with B2B and B2C customers in the US and Europe,” says Wu.
“Over the past two years, we’ve seen a large shift in consumers’ food habits and growing interest in healthy and sustainable food products and brands. Millennials and Gen Z are generally more open-minded to the idea of purchasing and consuming new food products, which is a core driver for the growth of the alternative protein industry. In terms of investment, there has been a tremendous increase in investors’ appetite for deals in the alternative protein sector.”
The road to IPO opening up investment to retail
Global investment interest in the agrifood and food technology sectors is growing. Ento’s ECF campaign is opening its doors to public and retail investors, where previously early stage deals were only accessible to selected angel investors, venture capital funds and private equity firms, the company notes.
Notably, Fundnel has in the past raised money for SpaceX, Grab, WeWork and more. The Singapore-based private investment platform has positioned itself as Southeast Asia's largest private investment technology platform.
Over the past year, Ento has attracted key talents and currently comprises a team of agriculturalists, food technologists, scientists and commercial operators. Ento is currently in its first revenue stage and commercializing its products by working with online and offline retailers and securing key distribution channels with its recent launch on Amazon USA.
“Upon the completion of ECF round, we will be able to hire more key talents in areas such as product development, sales, distribution and marketing in order to expand our current distribution channels and also drive education among the mass consumers. We will use proceeds from the ECF round to transition our business into a sustainable food ingredient producer selling new products, such as our Ento burger patty, to food service companies,” Wu says.
Alternative protein innovation in food and beverages continues to flourish as a result of consumer interest in health, sustainability and ethics, which ties into the broader consumer lifestyle trend towards cleaner living. “The Plant-Based Revolution” is a notable offshoot of this theme, crowned the Top Trend for 2020 by Innova Market Insights.
Edited by Benjamin Ferrer
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