Start-up Tindle: Vegan chicken from soy and wheat

HeyTimo Recker’s success story begins somewhat paradoxically: The businessman grew up in a village in Lower Saxony. His family has had a meat business with 100 employees for more than 50 years. Recker was supposed to continue the company in the next generation, but his father rejected him.

“I did not identify with the company and anyway our children will not eat much meat in the future,” he later said in an interview with Gründerszene. Instead, Recker started his own company that produces soy-based meat substitutes.

With the start-up of Likemeat at the end of 2013, the man from Lower Saxony was one of the first to bring vegan chicken and round to the market. Recker says his father gave him a one-million-euro loan, which he could use to buy a production machine.

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“Venture capital was not available at that time.” So Niedersache searched and found other options. Over the years, other family businesses have joined the start-up, especially from the meat industry.

Tindle mimics soy and wheat chicken

With its own production and existing structures, it was difficult for the company to escalate globally, says today the founder of Likemeat. “You do not change the world with 20 million sales.”

The market for chicken alone – an animal product that the start-up wants to replace – exceeds 150 billion euros worldwide. Of these, the 20 million euros recently generated by Likemeat make no sense in comparison, says Recker. At the end of 2019, there were disagreements between the shareholders. So the founder and the investors decided to sell Likemeat.

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For almost two years now, the brand has been owned by Livekindly, an umbrella company under which several vegan companies are based. Since then, the Swiss company has brought Likemeat to Edeka stores across Germany and made the products more popular. Recker, however, took the revenue from the outing and re-established a plant-based meat company.

New: Went to Singapore for Next Gen Foods’s second start-up. Because compared to the US, the market for vegan substitutes in Asia has almost no competition. The butcher’s son himself brought in two million euros and was soon followed by further funding from the VCs.

Tindle Next Gen Timo Recker

Timo Recker, 35, moved to Asia because he sees more potential there

Source: Tindle

In February 2021, four months after its founding, the Singaporean Sovereign Wealth Fund Temasek became involved. The start-up not only received money, but also landed on the state agenda. In Germany, that would not be the case with an investment from a state fund, Recker says.

There were 8.5 million euros in the seed round, although Next Gen Foods had not even released a product at the time. This followed only after the investment was completed and is called Tindle. The brand imitates chicken meat from soy and wheat.

Make Next Gen Foods more sustainable

From his many years of experience at Likemeat, the man from Lower Saxony knew how to make Next Gen Foods bigger and more sustainable. Point one: Recker did not buy its own factories, but outsourced production. This reduces costs and makes the company more flexible, he says. For global expansion, start-ups are looking for new partners on every continent instead of building new rooms.

Point two: Unlike Likemeat, the Tindle brand only offers one product. The team focuses on chicken substitutes and builds strong marketing around it.

Third point: The company does not put its meat substitutes on supermarket shelves, but cooperates with restaurants. And the most important point four: From the beginning, Recker not only retained experienced investors, but also a top management team.

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Co-founder Andre Menezes has previously worked in the meat industry for seven years, including substitute products. Recker took CTO John Seegers with him from Likemeat start-up. Marketing Director Jean Madden has been responsible for the L’Oréal and Unilever brands for many years. Next Gen Foods is chasing its financial director, Rohit Bhattacharya, from Temasek.

At the checkout, Bhattacharya primarily cared for start-up food businesses. COO Alex Ward has worked for food producers in Singapore for over 20 years. “I did not have these opportunities and this knowledge at Likemeat before,” says founder Recker.

Investors would queue at startup. According to the company, the sowing round of 2020 had already been overwritten by almost two million euros. Over the summer, Next Gen Foods expanded its funding by € 18 million. The start-up recently raised € 88 million. So that means: only one year on the market and already almost 120 million euros in the fund.

Money for vegan chicken by Paul McCartney

Not only the state VC from Singapore and the Metro start-up fund are interested in the vegan chicken, but also a different group of celebrities: the British footballer and international Dele Alli, for example, and the former Beatle, Paul McCartney.

Swiss start-up Planted also sells vegan chicken, but makes the products itself. Just like the billionaire American pioneers Beyond Meat and Impossible Food, who specialize mainly in burgers.

Many investors see an advantage in this independence. Timo Recker, on the other hand, has learned that he can not escalate like that. And obviously many investors also appreciate this approach.

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Money continues to be invested in meat. The Recker family business was sold last year. His father was sad that his ancestral company would not pass on to the next generation, but he is happy with his son’s success, says the Likemeat founder. Now the Reckers are making money with soy chicken instead of pork schnitzel.

This text comes from a collaboration with the magazine “Gründerszene”. Click on the links, leave welt.de and end up with articles at gruenderszene.de.

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