MeliBio, Inc., the startup making real honey without bees, has today announced the closing of $850,000 in the pre-seed round funding.
The company, founded in 2020 by Aaron Schaller, PhD and Darko Mandich is developing a proprietary technology based on synthetic biology, precision fermentation, and plant science that replaces honeybees as a medium for honey production.
The global honey market in 2020 was valued at $9 billion. Today, the industry solely relies on honeybees and faces many issues related to sustainability and its negative impact on bee biodiversity. By producing real honey with the help of science, MeliBio is revolutionizing the industry to help save 20,000 wild and native bee species that are essential to Earth’s flora and fauna.
After coming out of a leading global startup accelerator program, Big Idea Ventures in New York, MeliBio attracted nine investors and raised funds from: Big Idea Ventures, Joyance Partners, 18.ventures, Sparklabs Cultiv8, Sustainable Food Ventures, Capital V, angel investor Courtney Reum and two mission-driven family offices from GlassWall Syndicate.
Darko Mandich, CEO and Co-Founder of MeliBio said: “We are thrilled to have support from the investors who believe in the world our company wants to create. That world is the place where the most delicious and nutritious food is accessible to everyone, but not at the expense of the sustainability of our planet. I thank all of the people who work diligently to bring MeliBio’s honey made without bees into many homes and communities.”
Initially, MeliBio plans to supply food service companies with its plant-based honey as an ingredient. The first product will be soft launched at the end of this year to fulfill orders the company received during its participation in Big Idea Ventures’ accelerator program. MeliBio is in talks with potential partners from several countries and the company expects further commercial product rollout in the first half of 2022.
“Big Idea Ventures is focused on investing in companies with transformative technologies which have the power to positively impact a global industry or category,” said Andrew D. Ive, founder and general managing partner of Big Idea Ventures. “MeliBio has the real potential to change not just the honey category but the whole sweetener and skincare industries with a new and sustainable way to create real honey without the bees. MeliBio has created the first truly vegan honey.”
Holly Jacobus, Investment Partner at Joyance Partners, stated: “We’re absolutely delighted to support the MeliBio team in improving our food ecosystem. Their novel technology could have an outsized impact on not only honey production in the US, but the entire ecological community.”
Nik Talreja, Partner at 18.ventures, said, “MeliBio’s honey is indistinguishable from traditional bee-made honey, and its properties enable food and cosmetic processors to cost-effectively and scalably introduce a variety of complex sugars into consumer products, with potentially broader appeal. Demand for honey is increasing, and, as we understand it, there is no ecologically sustainable way to meet this growing demand. We are psyched to be a part of MeliBio’s journey and are privileged to work with MeliBio’s incredible team in solving a delicious problem.”
Malcolm Nutt, Partner at Sparklabs Cultiv8, stated: “Sparklabs Cultiv8 is thrilled to be working with MeliBio, to help produce real honey without the bees. We look forward to assisting them expand in the Asia Pacific region, whilst making a positive impact on biodiversity.”
“MeliBio is how we unf*ck the world, MeliBio's mission is to stop the devastating loss of bee biodiversity with a better, more sustainable, plant based honey. There's no us without the bees and we're 100 percent behind MeliBio on their mission to save the bees and us,” said Ryan Bethencourt, Partner, Sustainable Food Ventures.
Courtney Reum, Co-Founder of M13 who invested personally in MeliBio as an angel investor, stated: “Finding ways to produce animal foods without animal farming is important for the sustainability of the global food system. As a long-time connoisseur of honey and all its benefits, I am excited about MeliBio’s endeavor to make honey plant-based while saving bee biodiversity.”
Michiel van Deursen, Founder of Capital V, said, “Honey possesses unique properties that make it highly attractive in fields such as medicine, cosmetics, and the food industry. However, what many don’t know, is that the honey industry seriously harms the environment, and has a huge negative impact on bees. I was immediately interested and impressed when Darko and Aaron presented MeliBio to me. I see tremendous opportunities and expect MeliBio to have a great impact in this space. I am proud to add this amazing company and their incredible team to the portfolio of Capital V to help them create a future that is better for our planet and the bees.”