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Biotech Firm Raises $16M for Vegan Dog Food

The food is made from an ‘eco-friendly and renewably sourced fungi.’

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BERKELEY, CA – Wild Earth Inc., a biotech startup company focused on pet food, has closed on $16 million funding.

The company announced this week that it had closed its Series A with an investment of $11 million led by VegInvest, a venture capital firm supporting early-stage companies striving to replace the use of animals in the food system and other industries. This is VegInvest’s second investment in Wild Earth.

Other current investors include Mark Cuban’s Radical Investments, Felicis Ventures, Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund and Mars Petcare, bringing total funding to $16 million.

The investment is being used to accelerate Wild Earth’s development of its no-meat food for dogs made from an eco-friendly and renewably sourced fungi, a “complete protein containing all ten essential amino acids,” according to a press release. The company expects the dry kibble formula to be available in the second half of 2019.

Wild Earth also announced it has moved into its new headquarters in Southwest Berkeley at Outermost House, significantly expanding its R&D and business facilities. Outermost House, located in a historic space of a former chocolate factory, was envisioned by VegInvest in 2017 as a global innovation hub for vegan food tech companies.

“Wild Earth and VegInvest share a foundation of values and innovation in this effort to achieve a food system that works better for people, the planet, and animals,” said Wild Earth CEO Ryan Bethencourt. “Their experience helping future-of-food companies reach the market will absolutely increase our timeline for commercial availability of our dog food with fungi protein.”

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Amy Trakinski, managing director of VegInvest, who joins Wild Earth’s board of directors, said,
“Given the shocking amount of animal farming required for pet food, and the environmental strain caused by feeding companion animals, Wild Earth represents an important component of a more sustainable and humane food system. We’re investing in Wild Earth not only to impact this market but because Ryan and his team can provide valuable leadership to other companies in the plant-based innovation space.”

New York-based VegInvest provides early-stage capital and guidance to companies in industries like vegan food products and food technology, alternatives to animal testing, and restaurant chains. By replacing the use of animals, VegInvest sees financial opportunities as well as more sustainable and scalable solutions. Current investments include JUST and Veggie Grill.

Wild Earth also welcomed global investors in its funding round. Shanghai-based Bits x Bites is China’s first future-of-food fund. VECTR is a private equity group based in Hong Kong. Berlin-based P.O.V. is one of Germany’s leading food funds.

Wild Earth said its fungi-based products require fewer resources than farming animals to produce the same nutritional value. In addition to a complete protein without animal ingredients, the veterinarian-developed formula offers omega fatty acids, digestion-boosting enzymes and prebiotics to support gastrointestinal microbiomes. Since 25-30 percent of meat’s environmental impact in the U.S. is attributed to pet food, Wild Earth believes its Koji protein “is necessary if we hope to sustainably feed more than a billion pets expected by 2050.”

Wild Earth treats are available online at WildEarth.com, Amazon.com, PupJoy.com, select brick-and-mortar retail stores, and wholesale to pet food retailers.

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Since launching in 2017, PETS+ has won 11 major international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact PETS+'s editors at editor@petsplusmag.com.

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Cosmic Pet Makes an Acquisition

PetFusion is known for its cat scratchers.

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Cosmic Pet has acquired PetFusion, which is best known for its cat scratchers. PetFusion’s products also include pet feeders, dog beds, litter boxes, toys and more. The company was founded in 2010 and sells primarily though e-commerce.

“PetFusion is a very exciting addition to the Cosmic Pet family of leading pet brands,” said Cosmic Pet CEO Tim Blurton. “Their leadership team brings deep, valuable insight into the pet industry and the e-commerce channel that will benefit all Cosmic Pet brands, plus their high-quality, well-designed products are excellent additions to our current offerings. There is a strong cultural fit between the businesses, and we are so excited to have them on the team.”

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

PetFusion joins the Cosmic Pet roster of leading pet industry brands including: Hyper Pet, Pet Zone, OurPet’s, Aussie Naturals, Wild Eats, Ultra Paws, Mad Cat and many more.

In March 2019, following a series of pet industry acquisitions made by Hyper Pet, Cosmic Pet was established. This corporate brand captures the ambitions of the three primary combined companies, Hyper Pet, R2P Pet and OurPet’s, whose mission is to lead the global pet industry by developing iconic, trend-setting, high-quality products.

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Checking Pets by Camera Is a Fun Obsession for More Americans

Comcast released a survey and announced a new product feature.

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PHILADELPHIA — Americans are becoming increasingly obsessed with watching their pets on security cameras while away from home, according to new survey results.

The research, commissioned by Comcast and conducted by Wakefield Research, included 1,000 U.S. adults who are cat and/or dog owners and use a camera to monitor their pets.

Nearly half (44%) of those surveyed check in on their pets four times a day or more, and nearly 2 in 5 (38%) take a peek during work.

Additionally, 94% say checking in on their pet is one of the best parts of their day.

The survey also found:

  • Pet owners love furry distractions. Nearly 3 in 4 (73%) pet owners who check their cameras do so while on vacation to sneak a peek of their pet(s) whenever possible. Nearly 3 in 5 (59%) have checked while at a party or social event; more than 2 in 5 (44%) have checked during a workout; during a meeting (38%); while talking on the phone (38%); and while out on a date (32%).
  • Pets are more entertaining than family and friends. More than two-thirds (68%) of respondents reported checking in on their pet(s) more than social media to see what their family and friends are up to. More than 4 in 5 surveyed (84%) also reported they have shared video clips of their pet(s) on social media platforms.
  • Pets’ lives are not so secret. Eighty-eight percent of respondents have checked in on their pets and caught them doing something naughty such as sitting in a forbidden place (39%); making excessive noise (36%); eating human food that has been left out (33%); damaging furniture or accessories (30%); hiding or moving objects around the home (30%); relieving him/herself on the floor or on the furniture (26%); vomiting (19%); or getting stuck somewhere (17%).
  • Pet owners want ways to find videos of their pets quickly. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of respondents reported it is a bigger hassle to search hours of video clips of their pet(s) with no way to filter them, than to not have any clips of pets because their camera only has live feed, and they would like a filter feature to help them find clips faster.

Comcast announced that it has launched a new “pet filter” feature on its Xfinity Camera to make it easier for customers to keep tabs on their pets. The filter uses artificial intelligence to sort through hours of footage to identify just those with pets in them out of the more than one hundred motion-triggered video clips a typical camera can generate each day.

“We developed this feature to help our customers quickly filter motion-triggered events by people, vehicles, or pets because we wanted to bring them the video clips that matter most even faster,” said Dennis Mathew, vice president and general manager of Comcast’s Xfinity Home. “It’s an intelligent home security solution that enables our customers to easily check in on their loved ones from anywhere, anytime.”

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$16M Development to Be Among ‘Largest Dog Parks Ever Built’

It will have 50K square feet of off-leash space.

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Austin, TX, is set to get a $16 million indoor dog park.

With over 50,000 square feet of off-leash space, the air-conditioned facility will be called Canine Commons, Statesman.com reports.

The news outlet quoted a press release saying the development will be “among the largest dog parks ever built.”

It will employ as many as 35 people and have retail space, a coffee shop and training areas.

The dog park is being planned by Corbyt and TACKarchitects, both based in Omaha, NE. They’re considering various sites in Austin, according to Statesman.com.

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An opening date has not been announced. Construction is expected to take about a year.

Canine Commons locations are also planned for Omaha and four other yet-to-be-named cities, according to Statesman.com.

Read more at Statesman.com

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