Creandum backs Amie, a new productivity app from ex-N26 product manager Dennis Müller

Amie, a new productivity app from ex-N26 product manager Dennis Müller, has picked up $1.3 million in pre-seed funding to “kickstart” development and hiring.

Backing 23 year-old Müller is Creandum — the European VC best known for being an early investor in Spotify — along with Tiny.VC and a plethora of angels. They include Laura Grimmelmann (Ex-Accel), Nicolas Kopp (CEO, N26 U.S.), Roland Grenke (Dubsmash co-founder) and Zachary Smith (SVP of product at U.S. challenger bank Chime).

Founded early this year and with a planned launch in early 2021, Berlin-based Amie is developing a productivity app that combines a person’s calendar and to-dos in one place. Previously called coco, it promises to work across all devices, with an interface that “works just like you think”.

“Back in the day, you had a calendar on your office wall, and a to-do list on a notepad,” Müller tells me. “You could take your list with you elsewhere, but not your calendar. Those were digitized instead of rethinking the flow. Most productivity apps solve very specific problems, creating a new one, [and] users need too many tools”.

Amie pre-release app screenshot

Müller says Amie is built on the principle that “to-dos, habits and events all take time, and all belong in the same place”. Many people already schedule to-dos and the startup wants offer the fastest way to create to-dos, schedule events, check your calendar “and even jump into Zoom calls”.

As a glimpse of what’s to come, Amie promises to let you drag ‘n’ drop to-dos into your day, or turn links and screenshots into to-dos. “With Amie’s Alfred-like app, you can create an event and invite people in a different timezone, all while other apps are still loading,” says the young company.

More broadly, Amie wants to act as a central workspace, letting you also do things like join video calls, take notes, and do email, without the need to open extra browser tabs and therefore avoid “context switching”.

“Amie will target professionals who are currently using Google Calendar, due to our integration,” adds Müller. “The waitlist already counts thousands of users, who are mostly professionals working in the tech industry e.g. designers, developers, bizdevs, etc”.

VCs are cutting checks remotely, but deal volume could be slowing

When COVID-19 began to shutter the United States economy, startups jumped into cost-cutting mode as expectations rose that venture capital was about to get a heck of a lot harder to raise. After all, prior downturns in the broader economy, and tech sector in particular, had taken a bite out of the ability for startups to attract new funds.

PitchBook research shows that, in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the amount of money venture capitalists invested fell, with early-stage deal and dollar volume enduring the largest cuts. Late-stage valuations during the same period came under steep pressure. The connection between a slipping economy and a rapidly deteriorating venture capital market, therefore, seems strong.


The Exchange explores startups, markets and money. You can read it every morning on Extra Crunch, and now you can receive it in your inbox. Sign up for The Exchange newsletter, which drops every Friday starting July 24.


The historically-grounded feeling from startups in Q2, as the stock market sold off and unemployment rose, was one of concern: VCs were about to cut their deal pace, and the number of dollars that they were willing to put into each deal would likely fall as well. Throw in the fact that investors would need to shake up their process and do deals remotely, was not confidence inspiring.

We don’t have full Q2 VC numbers yet, so it’s too soon to say that Q2 was worse, or better than expectations. But what we can say, thanks to a new survey from OMERS Ventures, is that VCs moved with reasonable speed to get over the technology and cultural hurdle of remote-dealmaking to keep the checks flowing. Indeed, according to OMERS Ventures’ research, 69% of the VCs it surveyed in June were willing to do fully-remote deals; for startups worried that the venture class was simply going to pack up its checkbook and take an extended vacation, it’s good news.

But the news isn’t all rosy — most VC firms from the 150 in North America and Europe that the venture group surveyed have yet to actually execute a remote deal. And, there’s some indication that overall deal volume could be slowing, perhaps due to “dwindling supply of companies formally going to market,” according to OMERS Ventures’ Damien Steel, a managing partner.

This morning let’s examine which VCs have been the most active, and the least, to find out which types of firms are still investing, and where investors are seeing more deal flow, and less.

Remote deals, fewer deals

Most VCs have decided that remote dealmaking is, at minimum, something that they need to become accustomed to. Only 4% of surveyed VCs said that they would not do remote deals, full-stop. Another 23% said that they were find with remote deals, albeit with some ability to meet entrepreneurs in person.

VCs are cutting checks remotely, but deal volume could be slowing

When COVID-19 began to shutter the United States economy, startups jumped into cost-cutting mode as expectations rose that venture capital was about to get a heck of a lot harder to raise. After all, prior downturns in the broader economy, and tech sector in particular, had taken a bite out of the ability for startups to attract new funds.

PitchBook research shows that, in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the amount of money venture capitalists invested fell, with early-stage deal and dollar volume enduring the largest cuts. Late-stage valuations during the same period came under steep pressure. The connection between a slipping economy and a rapidly deteriorating venture capital market, therefore, seems strong.


The Exchange explores startups, markets and money. You can read it every morning on Extra Crunch, and now you can receive it in your inbox. Sign up for The Exchange newsletter, which drops every Friday starting July 24.


The historically-grounded feeling from startups in Q2, as the stock market sold off and unemployment rose, was one of concern: VCs were about to cut their deal pace, and the number of dollars that they were willing to put into each deal would likely fall as well. Throw in the fact that investors would need to shake up their process and do deals remotely, was not confidence inspiring.

We don’t have full Q2 VC numbers yet, so it’s too soon to say that Q2 was worse, or better than expectations. But what we can say, thanks to a new survey from OMERS Ventures, is that VCs moved with reasonable speed to get over the technology and cultural hurdle of remote-dealmaking to keep the checks flowing. Indeed, according to OMERS Ventures’ research, 69% of the VCs it surveyed in June were willing to do fully-remote deals; for startups worried that the venture class was simply going to pack up its checkbook and take an extended vacation, it’s good news.

But the news isn’t all rosy — most VC firms from the 150 in North America and Europe that the venture group surveyed have yet to actually execute a remote deal. And, there’s some indication that overall deal volume could be slowing, perhaps due to “dwindling supply of companies formally going to market,” according to OMERS Ventures’ Damien Steel, a managing partner.

This morning let’s examine which VCs have been the most active, and the least, to find out which types of firms are still investing, and where investors are seeing more deal flow, and less.

Remote deals, fewer deals

Most VCs have decided that remote dealmaking is, at minimum, something that they need to become accustomed to. Only 4% of surveyed VCs said that they would not do remote deals, full-stop. Another 23% said that they were find with remote deals, albeit with some ability to meet entrepreneurs in person.

Coinbase reported to consider late 2020, early 2021 public debut

Coinbase is the latest mega-startup that may approach the public markets. The digital currency exchange company could follow Palantir, which is also nearing its IPO, after the secretive data-focused unicorn announced that it had filed privately.

Earlier today Reuters reported that Coinbase, a popular American-based cryptocurrency trading platform, could pursue a public debut later this year, or early next year. Plans remain fluid, according to the report, which went on to say that the crypto-focused fintech company “has been in talks to hire investment banks and law firms.”

Coinbase declined to comment, telling TechCrunch in an email that it cannot “comment on rumors or speculation.”

Even more, Reuters reported that Coinbase may pursue a direct listing for its shares, instead of a more traditional initial public offering. A direct listing allows a company to begin to trade publicly without formally pricing its equity through a bloc sale as happens in initial public offerings. Direct listings have become more popular as a concept in recent years as private companies became less dependent on IPOs as a fundraising mechanism, and some of Silicon Valley’s elite became disenchanted with what they consider to be regular underpricing of IPOs, forcing companies going public to leave tens, or hundreds of millions of dollars on the table.

Coinbase is perhaps archetypal for the sort of company that might consider a direct listing. It’s wealthy, having raised north of $500 million during its life as a private company, and highly valued. Coinbase’s most recent private financing of $300 million valued it at $8.0 billion, according to Crunchbase data. A high valuation and the possibility of ample cash reserves are what previous direct listings Slack, and Spotify had as well.

Most companies still tack towards the public markets through IPOs, as we’ve see in recent weeks with the traditional debuts of Accolade, Vroom, and others. Yesterday TechCrunch covered initial price ranges for two more IPOs, GoHealth and nCino, each of which have eschewed the direct listing model in favor of raising funds during their exit from the private markets.

Results

How big Coinbase is today is not clear. The company’s financial history is occluded — common with private companies — and a bit uneven. Media reports have pegged its 2017 revenue at around $1 billion, boosted by that year’s crypto-mania. Precisely how Coinbase performed in 2018 is less clear, though other media reports paint the picture of a smaller company.

Regardless of whether Coinbase direct lists or takes on a traditional IPO, we’ll get to see its S-1 filing. That document will provide good insight into the company’s historical financial performance, allowing us to see how Coinbase fared during various crypto-booms and busts.

With public markets at all-time highs and valuations for tech stocks far above historical norms, it’s not surprising that some highly-valued unicorns are gearing up for a run on the public markets. Let’s see how many pull it off.

Singaporean startup Karana raises $1.7 million for meat substitutes made from jackfruit

Singaporeans have a growing appetite for plant-based meat substitutes. In fact, demand for products from companies like Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods and Quorn have grown during the pandemic, partly because consumers are making more health-conscious decisions, according to the Straits Time. Now there is a new entrant to the market. Headquartered in Singapore, Karana announced today it has raised $1.7 million in seed funding and plans to launch its first product, a pork substitute made from jackfruit, this year.

Karana’s seed investors include Henry Soesanto, the CEO of Monde Nissin Group, which acquired Quorn Foods in 2015; agtech investment firms Big Idea Ventures and Germi8; and angel investors Kevin Poon and Gerald Li, both Hong Kong entrepreneurs with experience in the food and beverage industry. Karana said the round also included participation from an undisclosed leading Asia-based FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) distributor.

Karana’s jackfruit is sourced from Sri Lanka, where jackfruit is already a common meat substitute. What Karana’s processing method does is create a texture that replicates minced and shredded pork more closely, making it easier to use in dishes like dumplings, char siu bao or bahn mi.

Founded in 2018 by Dan Riegler and Blair Crichton, Karana turns organic jackfruit into a pork substitute by using a proprietary mechanical technique that the company says does not use any chemical processing. Its pork substitute will be available in restaurants this year, before arriving in retail stores at the beginning of next year.

Riegler and Crichton told TechCrunch in an email that Karana uses jackfruit because it not only has a “naturally meaty texture,” but is an environmentally-friendly crop. It is usually grown intercropped (or with other produce, in the same field), has a high yield and low water usage. But about 60% of jackfruit harvested currently goes to waste, they added. “There is a lot of room for further commercialization, which means additional income streams for farmers.”

Karana’s founders started with pork because it is the most frequently consumed meat in Asia. Its seed funding will be used on research and development to launch new products and the company currently talking to strategic partners in other Asian markets. Future Karana products will use other crops grown in Asia to create new meat substitutes.

“Karana is a whole-plant meat company, our focus is on leveraging what nature has given us and enhancing these amazing biodiverse ingredients to create delicious products. In the future, we will launch products using other regional ingredients that will enable us to expand beyond pork,” the founders said. “This is a real differentiator from other companies that are by-and-large relying on commodity crops in processed forms.”

Singaporean startup Karana raises $1.7 million for meat substitutes made from jackfruit

Singaporeans have a growing appetite for plant-based meat substitutes. In fact, demand for products from companies like Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods and Quorn have grown during the pandemic, partly because consumers are making more health-conscious decisions, according to the Straits Time. Now there is a new entrant to the market. Headquartered in Singapore, Karana announced today it has raised $1.7 million in seed funding and plans to launch its first product, a pork substitute made from jackfruit, this year.

Karana’s seed investors include Henry Soesanto, the CEO of Monde Nissin Group, which acquired Quorn Foods in 2015; agtech investment firms Big Idea Ventures and Germi8; and angel investors Kevin Poon and Gerald Li, both Hong Kong entrepreneurs with experience in the food and beverage industry. Karana said the round also included participation from an undisclosed leading Asia-based FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) distributor.

Karana’s jackfruit is sourced from Sri Lanka, where jackfruit is already a common meat substitute. What Karana’s processing method does is create a texture that replicates minced and shredded pork more closely, making it easier to use in dishes like dumplings, char siu bao or bahn mi.

Founded in 2018 by Dan Riegler and Blair Crichton, Karana turns organic jackfruit into a pork substitute by using a proprietary mechanical technique that the company says does not use any chemical processing. Its pork substitute will be available in restaurants this year, before arriving in retail stores at the beginning of next year.

Riegler and Crichton told TechCrunch in an email that Karana uses jackfruit because it not only has a “naturally meaty texture,” but is an environmentally-friendly crop. It is usually grown intercropped (or with other produce, in the same field), has a high yield and low water usage. But about 60% of jackfruit harvested currently goes to waste, they added. “There is a lot of room for further commercialization, which means additional income streams for farmers.”

Karana’s founders started with pork because it is the most frequently consumed meat in Asia. Its seed funding will be used on research and development to launch new products and the company currently talking to strategic partners in other Asian markets. Future Karana products will use other crops grown in Asia to create new meat substitutes.

“Karana is a whole-plant meat company, our focus is on leveraging what nature has given us and enhancing these amazing biodiverse ingredients to create delicious products. In the future, we will launch products using other regional ingredients that will enable us to expand beyond pork,” the founders said. “This is a real differentiator from other companies that are by-and-large relying on commodity crops in processed forms.”

LocalGlobe and TransferWise’s Taavet Hinrikus back ‘frictionless finance’ startup Radix

Radix, a U.K. startup that’s building a decentralised finance protocol on which new financial apps can connect and be built on top of, has raised $4.1 million in new funding.

Backing the company, which counts the Ethereum network and a number of other “DeFi” projects as competitors, is London-based seed-stage VC LocalGlobe and TransferWise co-founder Taavet Hinrikus.

Radix DLT Ltd. — separate from the non-profit Radix Foundation — had previously raised $1.9 million in equity funding in the form of a SAFE note and will be issued 2.4 billion tokens by the Radix Foundation (see below).

In its own words, Radix DLT is building a decentralised finance protocol that aims to provide “frictionless access, liquidity and programmability of any asset in the world”. The Radix team also claims it has overcome the scalability issue that typically plagues decentralised finance and blockchain-based ledgers.

In a public test of the Radix network last year, it claims to have achieved over 1 million transactions per second, a throughput over 5x higher than the NASDAQ at its peak.

It also positions itself as different from other distributed ledgers and decentralised protocols. Radix is “not trying to be a general purpose platform,” says CEO Piers Ridyard. “Decentralised finance, and by extension, the financial industry is a highly specialised sector that requires a highly specialised set of tools and incentives. Unlike the general purpose protocols that came before it, such as Ethereum, Radix is building a layer 1 protocol specifically for decentralised finance”.

Benefiting from over 7 years of R&D carried out by founder Dan Hughes, a self taught coder from the North of England, Ridyard says that Radix’s sole focus on DeFi from the get-go means Redix is lowering the barriers to adoption via integrations with payment rails and consumer applications, increasing on-ledger liquidity, and by making it as easy as possible for developers to build new DeFi apps. The latter consists of the Radix Engine, a developer interface that claims to enable quick public ledger deployments using a “secure-by-design” environment.

But what’s the problem DeFi potentially solves?

At the highest level, proponents of so-called DeFi point to the fact that every system in finance is essentially built on its own, proprietary, non-compatible technology stack that still has far too many human processes behind it. For example, the London Stock Exchange, the U.S. NASDAQ, the Shanghai Stock Exchange are all built as “islands”. To trade across them requires centralised technology, protocol and legal integrations with each.

“That is because finance, lending, borrowing, swapping, and issuance are all done in these little islands of technology that require legal contracts and excel spreadsheets sent over email as the connective tissue,” says Ridyard. “APIs are improving this process, but there is no such thing as a standard API; Plaid became a $5.3 billion company for essentially this reason”.

By being decentralised and interoperable from day one, it’s this ability to trade across ledgers and asset classes programatically that DeFi systems such as Radix want to provide.

“This is the core and key difference for assets and services that are built on public ledgers,” explains Ridyard. “As soon as they are built on Radix, they become interoperable. I can seamlessly and programmatically move my assets from the services of one application, built by one company and team, to that of another, built by a different company and team, but issued and launched on the same decentralised public ledger. The public ledger acts as an interoperable platform for many startups to experiment and build better versions of existing products (such as stock exchanges) or entirely new products (such as continuous function market makers) that are just not possible with the current systems”.

Worth noting, Ridyard says that from a consumer point of view, the products and services aren’t likely to change much in their appearance — they’ll still be accessed via mobile apps and will probably be offered via regulated companies as they are today. Instead, he says the consumer-facing upsides will be speed, higher rates on deposits and the seamless ability to swap between asset types without needing to go into cash as the interim asset.

Adds the Radix CEO: “I should also stress that decentralised finance is not about moving existing banks onto public ledgers. It is about unbundling of banking services (borrowing, lending, investment) into applications that can all interoperate on a single public network. Banks are like newspapers coming into the internet age, some will make the transition, but not all”.

Cue statement from LocalGlobe’s Saul Klein (for posterity, if nothing else): “I see the same revolutionary potential in the Radix team as I did with the Skype and Netscape teams at the birth of the internet. We’re excited to join them at the start of a new decentralised network revolution”.

*Radix has two main legal entities: Radix DLT Ltd and the Radix Foundation. Since inception, both have received funding in different forms. The Radix Foundation is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, registered in the U.K., and was created to promote the long term interests of the Radix Public Network as well as help manage the Radix community and ecosystem. Between 2013 and 2017, people from the Radix Community contributed 3,000 BTC in exchange for 3 billion RADIX tokens issued by the Radix Foundation. These tokens arguably have value as they’re needed to pay the transaction fees to use the Radix protocol.

Yamo scores €10.1M Series A to offer healthier food choices for young children

Yamo, a self-described “foodtech” startup that produces and sells healthier food for babies and young children, has raised €10.1 million in Series A funding.

Backing comes from European food and agriculture tech investor Five Seasons Ventures, Swiss Entrepreneurs Fund, Ringier Digital Ventures, Müller Ventures, btov Partners, Polytech Ventures, BackBone Ventures, and Fundament. It brings total funding to €12 million.

Founded in 2016 by CEO Tobias Gunzenhauser, COO José Amado-Blanco, and CMO Luca Michas, yamo is on a mission to give parents healthier and easy food choices for their young children. Its products are available online via direct-to-consumer subscription model, and through grocery stores. The latter includes Coop in Switzerland, and trials in select Edeka and Rewe stores in Germany. With the new funding, yano is expanding to France and will launch new food products for children.

“In October 2015 Luca and I were co-workers in the same company, and we decided to eat vegan for a month,” says Gunzenhauser, when asked about the startup’s inception. “After starting our vegan challenge we had to scan food labels for hidden animal products. That was when we realised how many products in the supermarket contain unnecessary sugar and unhealthy ingredients. Out of curiosity, we checked the baby food aisle, naively assuming they would be the cleanest and healthiest food products available. We were quite wrong”.

Gunzenhauser and Michas observed that baby food products typically contained added sugar and salt, artificial vitamins, and a “scarily long shelf life, [which] seemed rather odd”.

“Everyone was talking about fresh, healthy, sustainable food for grown-ups, but the world was still feeding the youngest members of our families products that were older than the babies who ate them. Something was very wrong and we didn’t understand it.”

That was when Amado-Blanco, an old friend of Gunzenhauser’s and a food scientist, explained that those products are heat-sterilised, a process that also affects the product’s vitamin content, colour, and taste. The trio decided there had to be a better way and yamo was born.

“We talked to many young parents about how they perceived the current supermarket offering, how they feed their kids and what is necessary for them. We saw a clear gap in the market and set ourselves the goal of creating the freshest, tastiest baby purees the world had ever seen,” explains Gunzenhauser.

Image Credits: yamo

Instead of traditional heat-sterilisation, yamo uses high-pressure pasteurisation (HPP), which kills bacteria in minutes and retains the food’s natural nutrients, taste, colour and smell. yamo’s products last between eight to twelve weeks refrigerated. It also recently launched what it claims is the first non-dairy yoghurt in Europe for kids, using oat-milk.

Gunzenhauser cites yamo’s main competitor as homemade baby food, since the vast majority of baby food is still produced at home by parents. “This might be a result of distrust from parents in today’s offering they would find in retail. Our challenge is to show parents how yamo can support them raising their children healthily without any compromises,” he says.

Of course, the young company is also up against baby food incumbents and the yamo CEO concedes that the big challenge is that its products are refrigerated. “Normal baby food isn’t,” he says. “That is why we had to convince retailers to change the way they sell baby food. Coop changed its shelves for us, integrating a fridge in the regular baby food aisle”.

There are other startups entering the space, too. For example, in the U.K., there’s Little Tummy, and Mia & Ben, and in the U.S. there’s Yumi, among others.

Yamo scores €10.1M Series A to offer healthier food choices for young children

Yamo, a self-described “foodtech” startup that produces and sells healthier food for babies and young children, has raised €10.1 million in Series A funding.

Backing comes from European food and agriculture tech investor Five Seasons Ventures, Swiss Entrepreneurs Fund, Ringier Digital Ventures, Müller Ventures, btov Partners, Polytech Ventures, BackBone Ventures, and Fundament. It brings total funding to €12 million.

Founded in 2016 by CEO Tobias Gunzenhauser, COO José Amado-Blanco, and CMO Luca Michas, yamo is on a mission to give parents healthier and easy food choices for their young children. Its products are available online via direct-to-consumer subscription model, and through grocery stores. The latter includes Coop in Switzerland, and trials in select Edeka and Rewe stores in Germany. With the new funding, yano is expanding to France and will launch new food products for children.

“In October 2015 Luca and I were co-workers in the same company, and we decided to eat vegan for a month,” says Gunzenhauser, when asked about the startup’s inception. “After starting our vegan challenge we had to scan food labels for hidden animal products. That was when we realised how many products in the supermarket contain unnecessary sugar and unhealthy ingredients. Out of curiosity, we checked the baby food aisle, naively assuming they would be the cleanest and healthiest food products available. We were quite wrong”.

Gunzenhauser and Michas observed that baby food products typically contained added sugar and salt, artificial vitamins, and a “scarily long shelf life, [which] seemed rather odd”.

“Everyone was talking about fresh, healthy, sustainable food for grown-ups, but the world was still feeding the youngest members of our families products that were older than the babies who ate them. Something was very wrong and we didn’t understand it.”

That was when Amado-Blanco, an old friend of Gunzenhauser’s and a food scientist, explained that those products are heat-sterilised, a process that also affects the product’s vitamin content, colour, and taste. The trio decided there had to be a better way and yamo was born.

“We talked to many young parents about how they perceived the current supermarket offering, how they feed their kids and what is necessary for them. We saw a clear gap in the market and set ourselves the goal of creating the freshest, tastiest baby purees the world had ever seen,” explains Gunzenhauser.

Image Credits: yamo

Instead of traditional heat-sterilisation, yamo uses high-pressure pasteurisation (HPP), which kills bacteria in minutes and retains the food’s natural nutrients, taste, colour and smell. yamo’s products last between eight to twelve weeks refrigerated. It also recently launched what it claims is the first non-dairy yoghurt in Europe for kids, using oat-milk.

Gunzenhauser cites yamo’s main competitor as homemade baby food, since the vast majority of baby food is still produced at home by parents. “This might be a result of distrust from parents in today’s offering they would find in retail. Our challenge is to show parents how yamo can support them raising their children healthily without any compromises,” he says.

Of course, the young company is also up against baby food incumbents and the yamo CEO concedes that the big challenge is that its products are refrigerated. “Normal baby food isn’t,” he says. “That is why we had to convince retailers to change the way they sell baby food. Coop changed its shelves for us, integrating a fridge in the regular baby food aisle”.

There are other startups entering the space, too. For example, in the U.K., there’s Little Tummy, and Mia & Ben, and in the U.S. there’s Yumi, among others.

Yamo scores €10.1M Series A to offer healthier food choices for young children

Yamo, a self-described “foodtech” startup that produces and sells healthier food for babies and young children, has raised €10.1 million in Series A funding.

Backing comes from European food and agriculture tech investor Five Seasons Ventures, Swiss Entrepreneurs Fund, Ringier Digital Ventures, Müller Ventures, btov Partners, Polytech Ventures, BackBone Ventures, and Fundament. It brings total funding to €12 million.

Founded in 2016 by CEO Tobias Gunzenhauser, COO José Amado-Blanco, and CMO Luca Michas, yamo is on a mission to give parents healthier and easy food choices for their young children. Its products are available online via direct-to-consumer subscription model, and through grocery stores. The latter includes Coop in Switzerland, and trials in select Edeka and Rewe stores in Germany. With the new funding, yano is expanding to France and will launch new food products for children.

“In October 2015 Luca and I were co-workers in the same company, and we decided to eat vegan for a month,” says Gunzenhauser, when asked about the startup’s inception. “After starting our vegan challenge we had to scan food labels for hidden animal products. That was when we realised how many products in the supermarket contain unnecessary sugar and unhealthy ingredients. Out of curiosity, we checked the baby food aisle, naively assuming they would be the cleanest and healthiest food products available. We were quite wrong”.

Gunzenhauser and Michas observed that baby food products typically contained added sugar and salt, artificial vitamins, and a “scarily long shelf life, [which] seemed rather odd”.

“Everyone was talking about fresh, healthy, sustainable food for grown-ups, but the world was still feeding the youngest members of our families products that were older than the babies who ate them. Something was very wrong and we didn’t understand it.”

That was when Amado-Blanco, an old friend of Gunzenhauser’s and a food scientist, explained that those products are heat-sterilised, a process that also affects the product’s vitamin content, colour, and taste. The trio decided there had to be a better way and yamo was born.

“We talked to many young parents about how they perceived the current supermarket offering, how they feed their kids and what is necessary for them. We saw a clear gap in the market and set ourselves the goal of creating the freshest, tastiest baby purees the world had ever seen,” explains Gunzenhauser.

Image Credits: yamo

Instead of traditional heat-sterilisation, yamo uses high-pressure pasteurisation (HPP), which kills bacteria in minutes and retains the food’s natural nutrients, taste, colour and smell. yamo’s products last between eight to twelve weeks refrigerated. It also recently launched what it claims is the first non-dairy yoghurt in Europe for kids, using oat-milk.

Gunzenhauser cites yamo’s main competitor as homemade baby food, since the vast majority of baby food is still produced at home by parents. “This might be a result of distrust from parents in today’s offering they would find in retail. Our challenge is to show parents how yamo can support them raising their children healthily without any compromises,” he says.

Of course, the young company is also up against baby food incumbents and the yamo CEO concedes that the big challenge is that its products are refrigerated. “Normal baby food isn’t,” he says. “That is why we had to convince retailers to change the way they sell baby food. Coop changed its shelves for us, integrating a fridge in the regular baby food aisle”.

There are other startups entering the space, too. For example, in the U.K., there’s Little Tummy, and Mia & Ben, and in the U.S. there’s Yumi, among others.