Ada’s Investment in BlakBear
Today we are delighted to share that Ada Ventures led a £2.3M seed round for BlakBear, a London-based food quality technology business. Joining us in this round were Green Circle Capital (NYC), Ponderosa Ventures (London), Tom Sturgess (CA) and Remus Capital (Boston).
BlakBear has developed patented sensor technology that is inserted into protein (meat or fish) packaging and is able to predict food quality information from the emitted gases of the contents. This is a leap forward from the current “best before” or “sell by” systems that inaccurately determine shelf life of our food, leading to massive food wastage around the world. In fact, 1/3rd of all food is wasted!
What was the process that led to the investment?
One of our two wonderful FutureVC Interns, Giulia Todres, found BlakBear during her deepdive research into the wider climate sector during her time at Ada last summer. Giulia identified food waste, and particularly the out-dated “best before” system, as an area crying out for new technology. Her research led her to BlakBear, which she then scouted to us on the investment team.
Why does BlakBear fit the Ada thesis & what got us excited?
· Sector: climate is one of three sector theses we are investing our second fund into, so naturally we were interested in a deep IP style business that can reduce food wastage
· Deep Tech: as a small (£50M), early-stage (pre-seed and seed) fund, we prefer to invest in businesses with high levels of differentiation, which usually comes in the form of unique technology. BlakBear’s hardware is currently an MVP, the Bearcub, a small device added to food packaging with patented gas-sensing features. This will ultimately be miniaturised into a tiny strip, likely contained within the food label
· Scale of the problem: the issue of food wastage is vast: $1Tr-worth (or 2.5Bn tonnes!) of food is wasted every year, 6% of which is meat or fish. In fact, 21% of all meat produced is wasted. The climate and financial costs of producing meat are well established, so this seems like a double whammy
· Limited competition: the food testing market is relatively over-looked, even unsexy as an investment space — something we love at Ada Ventures. It’s a $21Bn market, growing at over 8% p.a., so there’s room to play here, and we don’t see many startups in the space, so competition is limited (again, handy when investing from a smaller fund)
· Founder-market fit: the founders of BlakBear met in the labs of Güder Research Group at Imperial College London. For the past six years, they’ve worked on ML-powered sensors to solve some of the world’s most critical problems, ultimately dedicated themselves to reducing food wastage
· Beta/pilot customer love: part of our DD included speaking with food testing and food retail businesses that are either testing the early Bearcub devices, or looking for a solution along these lines. One of the most compelling parts of our internal investment case was the feedback and interest levels of these businesses
Our investment is alongside a great group of four VC funds in total. All of us are excited to see this round of capital develop the next version of BlakBear’s technology, secure several customer contracts, and then begin the process of internationalising the business. Beyond that, everyone on the cap table believes that this company can play a major role is reducing the planets unacceptable levels of food waste.