Cooks Venture raises $10 million in Series A funding

Jordan Crook

Cooks Venture has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by SJF Ventures and Cultivian Sandbox, with participation from Larry Schwartz and John Roulac.

At its most basic level, Cooks Venture provides a proprietary breed of chicken to grocery stores for consumption. The company also lists Fresh Direct and direct online sales to its distribution channels. But it's far more complex than that.

For one, Cooks Venture spent years researching the genetic lines of chickens to develop its own breed of heirloom chickens. Why? Cooks Venture chickens grow more slowly, can live in a wider range of climates, get sick less frequently, and most importantly, can thrive on a much more diverse diet than your average chicken.

These features breed (see what I did there?) their own benefits. For one, this proprietary breed (called Pioneer breed) can be sold to emerging nations that perhaps can't afford to build state-of-the-art temperature-controlled facilities or don't have access to tons of corn (but do have access to yucca or quinoa) for feed. Cooks Venture also color sexes its chickens, making it easier for a farm without advanced infrastructure to quickly tell the difference between male and female chickens, which have different uses.

Secondly, feed for livestock is a huge source of demand on the agricultural industry, but much of that demand is for a small number of grains, like corn.

With Cooks Venture Pioneer chickens, which can eat a wide variety of foods, farmers can practice regenerative agriculture and run a biodiverse farm with a reliable place to sell those yields.

As part of the fundraising deal, Cooks Venture has also partnered with FoodID.

The platform tests for the presence of antibiotics and other adulterants in near real time, providing a solution to the problem of label fraud.

Cooks Venture founder and CEO Matt Wadiak (cofounder of Blue Apron) explained that the USDA runs what is called a follicle test, "and one of the issues [they've] determined with this kind of testing is that the thresholds for those tests will never lead to a positive test."

He said the same animal (that wouldn't test positive in the USDA's test) would be found to test positive for various proteins and antibiotics when submitted to FoodID's mass spectrometer test. Moreover, your basic mass spectrometer test takes a few weeks to offer results, which by then means that the flock has already been slaughtered and is in the midst of being processed and sent off to stores. The FoodID test can be done in near real time.

Wadiak says that food fraud is one of the biggest challenges to Cooks Venture, which goes above and beyond to provide healthy chickens to customers. If other products can simply fake it, it's all the more difficult for Cooks Venture to stand out at the point of sale.

Cooks Venture says that, through this partnership, it's the first company in America to test for synthetic inputs and the only company that can independently validate that it never uses antibiotics and provides verified non-GMO feed to its birds.

The company has significantly expanded since its $12 million fundraise in September 2019, serving broad swaths of California, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Seattle, Oregon, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Northeast.

The Cooks Venture team is made up of about 240 people, 42 percent of whom are female and 52 percent of whom are people of color. The leadership team, made up of 11 people, includes six women and two people of color.

More From

  • TikTok is reportedly planning to challenge the Trump Administration ban

    TikTok, the video-sharing app that's moved to the center of the economic conflict between the US and China, is planning to challenge the executive order issued by President Donald Trump that would force the sale or ban the service in the United States. According to a report from National Public Radio yesterday, TikTok could file a federal lawsuit challenging the order as soon as Tuesday. The lawsuit is expected to be filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, where TikTok has its American headquarters.

  • Share Ventures, an LA-based studio for company creation, is MoviePass co-founder Hamet Watt's next act

    Nearly eight years ago, Hamet Watt and Stacy Spikes launched MoviePass, the subscription-based movie ticketing service that captured the minds and dollars of investors and brought thousands of cinephiles a too-good-to-be-true deal for all-you-can watch movie passes. Watt, who came to MoviePass as an entrepreneur in residence at True Ventures, previously founded the brand and product placement startup NextMedium and also spent time as a board partner at Upfront Ventures. Now, the serial entrepreneur and startup investor is combining his two career paths under the auspices of Share Ventures.

  • How I accidentally gatecrashed a startup's morning meeting

    The company had hardcoded their Zoom meeting rooms to a number of subdomains on their company's website. This was a company that connected an entirely unprotected Zoom meeting room to a conveniently memorable web address, likely for convenience, but one that could have left lurkers and eavesdroppers in the company's meetings.

  • Daily Crunch: Trump bans transactions with ByteDance and Tencent

    Trump escalates his campaign against Chinese tech companies, Facebook extends work from home until the middle of 2021 and Netflix adds support for Hindi. This comes after Trump had already said that he was banning TikTok unless the app is sold to an American owner.