Jay-Z has just invested $ 250 million in the plant-based Tesla of Chicken brand SIMULATE
Music legend and entrepreneur Jay-Z is now an investor in vegetable chicken company SIMULATE, which recently closed a $ 50 million financing round earlier this month. A SIMULATE spokesperson confirmed that the investment round was led by SEVEN SEVEN SIX, an investment fund founded by Twitter founder Alexis Ohanian Bloomberg, including involvement in Marcy Venture Partners (MVP), a mutual fund founded by Jay-Z, Roc Nation CEO Jay Brown, and venture capitalist Larry Marus.
Founded in 2018 by the then 19-year-old entrepreneur Ben Pasternak, SIMULATE produces next-generation chickens from plants, with input from customers following a similar model to software updates. SIMULATE’s mission to perfect plant-based chicken is driven by Pasternak’s desire to create great tasting products that eliminate the outdated and environmentally damaging practice of slaughtering chickens for food. “In the past, our food system has rejected the use of technology, which has resulted in a very inefficient and primitive system,” said Pasternak. “This new funding will be used to create and protect the interface between technology and nutrition.”
Past funding raises include $ 7 million in 2019, led by McCain, along with Bob Pittman (founder of MTV and CEO of iHeartMedia), Neil Parikh, founder of the Casper mattress company, and John Malony (past president of Tumblr) . In 2020, the company raised $ 4.1 million with the help of Ohanian, former Whole Foods CEO Walter Robb, and model Jasmine Tookes. The latest round brought the plant company’s valuation to more than $ 250 million.
Simulate chickens with plants
Known as the “Tesla of Chicken,” SIMULATE launched its first iteration of NUGGS (a plant-based chicken nugget) in 2019 through a direct-to-consumer model. Since then, the company has used input from its customers to improve its vegan product Nuggets in terms of taste and texture. In 2020, SIMULATE introduced NUGGS in stores and quickly expanded its retail presence to more than 5,000 locations including Walmart, Target, Whole Foods Market and Sam’s Club in the US. Earlier this month, the company expanded the distribution of NUGGS – in original and savory flavors – to retailers across Canada, including grocery chains Loblaws, Sobeys, Whole Foods Market and Maxi. The company plans to expand its plant-based nuggets to an additional 10,000 retail locations by the end of 2021.
In an effort to keep innovating the chicken category, SIMULATE last year launched DISCS, a product that mimics nostalgic chicken patties but is made entirely from plants. Currently only available on the company’s website, the DISCS – which are made from a proprietary blend of soy and wheat – are also undergoing software updates.
The company will use the new funding to triple its in-house team; accelerate the development of new products and technologies; scale its manufacturing capabilities; increase its presence in retail and hospitality; and continue expansion in international markets.
Jay-Z’s vegan investments
SIMULATE may be the latest herbal company Jay-Z has funded, but it’s not the first. In 2019, Jay-Z – known for countless hits from a nearly 30-year music career – became the first hip-hop artist to become a billionaire, and his vegan investments are helping him keep the momentum going.
In 2019, Jay-Z helped plant-based startup Impossible Foods raise $ 300 million in a Series E funding round that also featured celebrities like Serena Williams, Trevor Noah, Katy Perry, Questlove, Jaden Smith, and will.i. were involved in. Later that year, Jay-Z’s MVP led a $ 1 million investment round in Partake Foods, a vegan biscuit brand founded by former Coca-Cola executive Denise Woodward. Through his entertainment agency Roc Nation, Jay-Z is also an investor in Oatly, a vegan brand known for its oat milk that went public earlier this year and which also includes media mogul Oprah Winfrey, actress Natalie Portman and many other investors counting.
Jay-Z and Beyoncé: Plant-based power couple
The entrepreneur has been married to the legendary musician Beyoncé since 2008, who renounced all animal products in 2018 in order to prepare for her historic Coachella performance. Together, the power couple got involved in various projects to promote a plant-based diet. In 2015, the couple teamed up with nutritionist Marco Borges to launch the vegan food delivery brand 22 Day Nutrition. In 2019 Jay-Z and Beyoncé revived their partnership with Borges to promote his multi-pronged The Greenprint project.
Named after Jay-Z’s 2001 hit album “The Blueprint,” Borges’ project aimed to raise awareness of the benefits of a plant-based diet through three initiatives including a web tool, clinical trial and documentation with herbal clinicians, celebrities, musicians and athletes. The project also resulted in the release of The Greenprint: Plant-Based Diet, Best Body, Better World, a book with a striker penned by Jay-Z and Beyoncé, who urged readers to “take responsibility for our health and the health of the planet” by using plant-based sources.