Reddit Co-Founder Alexis Ohanian Leads NUGGS’ $50 Million Series B
Co-founder of Reddit and plant-based investor Alexis Ohanian just led a $50 million B-series round to help grow plant-based food start-up, SIMULATE, maker of NUGGS. Ohanian made the investment through his venture capital firm Seven Seven Six, and joined the company’s board. SIMULATE considers itself a technology company, or even "the Tesla of Chicken" since it's saving the planet and offering consumers a superior product that they are passionate about. Since launching NUGGS in 2019, the company has introduced several iterations of the popular formula while becoming one of the fastest-growing plant-based brands on the market.
“No one is running into a Whole Foods store normally, and getting to the frozen sector to take a selfie, but with NUGGS, they are,” Ohanian told Forbes.
NUGGS is now selling at Walmart, Target, and Sam's Club. The suggested retail price for a 32-ounce box is $44.99. Other investors include Patrick Schwartzenegger, son of Arnold, and the company enlisted Bella Hadid to be its ambassador early on, which sparked so much interest in tasting the plant-based nuggets that they sold out its first batch last June in 16 minutes.
The company was founded in 2018 by then 19-year-old entrepreneur Ben Pasternak, who set out to create alternatives to popular meat products. The plant-based brand saw immediate popular success after releasing its chicken nugget substitute. NUGGS claims to contain higher protein and lower fat than conventional chicken, fueling the success of Pasternak and his food tech company. NUGGS contains 13g of protein, about 25 percent higher than animal-based nuggets, and with 10g of fat, is nearly 40 percent less than animal-based equivalents.
The funding round included investments from Chris and Crystal Sazza, McCain Foods, and NOMO Ventures. The company has also seen vocal support and received investment from the actor Patrick Schwarzenegger, who believes that NUGGS will continue to grow and see positive consumer response.
“Ben has built an exceptional unique brand, and I look forward to continuing to help him grow,” Schwarzenegger told Forbes,
Beyond the plant-based nuggets, SIMULATE plans to use the money secured from this financial package to develop new products. The company hopes to triple in size and enhance its manufacturing to reach more retailers and consumers. Pasternak plans to reach out to larger companies such as McDonald’s to potentially partner and distribute the company’s plant-based nuggets to fast-food clientele.
“The largest use of the fund is to really ensure that we consistently deliver the best products, and hire the best food scientists - continuing to iterate the product is our core intent,” Pasternak said.
Pasternak highlighted the impact Ohanian had on the company in its early stages. He claims that Ohanian and his venture capital arm joined SIMULATE as an angel investor, allowing for the company to really thrive at the very beginning.
The Reddit founder has consistently supported plant-based companies including Impossible Foods and Eclipse Foods. Ohanian frequently states that he thinks the future will be defined by plant-based foods, saying that plant-based products will experience a “huge bump next decade as we realize what our factory-animal-processing practices have done to our health and safety.