Prolific Machines, a next generation biotechnology company, is emerging from stealth by announcing their massively oversubscribed Seed and Series A financings, led by the best VCs in the space. The Seed round was led by Arvind Gupta at Mayfield, the first investor in cultured meat. The Series A was led by Bill Gates-founded Breakthrough Energy Ventures. Prolific’s first check was written in late 2020, when SOSV’s IndieBio led their Pre-Seed round.
Who else joined the round of funding?
The lead venture capital funds were also joined by a number of high profile co-investors such as David Adelman, Mark Cuban (owner of the Dallas Mavericks), The Kraft Group (owners of the New England Patriots), David Rubenstein, Michael Rubin, Breyer Capital, The SALT Fund, Purple Orange Ventures, Fred Blackford, Jake Poliskin, and Baruch Future Ventures.
A number of celebrities and restaurateurs have also invested in Prolific Machines including: Kevin Love, Tobias Harris, Meek Mill, Ciara & Russell Wilson, Emily Ratajkowski, Maverick Carter, Sean Feeney, Michael Schulson, Mark Bucher, and RJ Melman. Prolific is unique in that they are inventing the scalable manufacturing process first, and a product second.
This is very different to the path taken by other cultured meat companies. Prolific aims to do for biology what Henry Ford did for automobiles. In 1906, there were hundreds of car companies, yet most people could not afford a car. After Ford invented the assembly line for automobiles, car production became scalable, and then cars became a mass market item. Prolific is inventing the tech that holds the key to building a scalable assembly line for biology.
What is the inspiration behind the idea?
Dr. Deniz Kent, Co-founder and CEO of Prolific Machines, started the firm after witnessing the Syrian refugee crisis in his hometown of Antioch, Turkey. He realized that what he saw would be nothing compared to the impending global refugee crises caused by climate change. He knew his expertise in stem cell biology could be used to create a sustainable food system, but lacked confidence in the ability of existing tech to compete with factory farming on cost.
He conceived of a new way to grow and control cells without the need for any recombinant proteins. He spent three years searching for the perfect co-founders while the idea marinated in his mind. He soon found a brilliant physicist Dr. Max Huisman, and an exceptional machine learning engineer Declan Jones. Deniz convinced them to quit their jobs, and together they assembled an all-star team to embark upon a journey to revolutionize biomanufacturing.
“We are of the opinion that existing tech being deployed in cultured meat will not reach price parity with factory farming. A fundamentally new approach is going to be required. I’m open to making our tech available to every meat company. Our mission is to address the existential risks posed by our changing climate, and we have no time to waste,” said Deniz.
Deniz explains the next steps. “We are building a 25,000 square foot headquarters in Emeryville and ramping up hiring to expand our assembly line programs, like fish, poultry, and beef. If you are talented and looking to make a historic change, come and talk to us.”
What were the investors’ thoughts on Prolific Machines?
Commenting on Prolific Machines, Arvind Gupta, partner at Mayfield and first investor in many prominent food companies, says of the Seed round, “I never intended to invest in another cultured meat company. But when Deniz showed me what they were doing, I was blown away by the creativity in their approach to reinvent the assembly line for food production.”
“It is my goal to help reverse climate change by partnering with incredible teams, and I am convinced Prolific Machines will be a winner in the race for sustainable food production.”
After making quick progress, Breakthrough Energy Ventures met the team and was similarly impressed. “Prior to meeting Prolific we had come to the conclusion that a fundamental breakthrough would be required for cultured meat to be economically competitive with conventional meat production,” said Carmichael Roberts, Breakthrough Energy Ventures.
“We believe that Prolific Machines may be this breakthrough. Prolific’s novel technology has the potential to enable the cost-competitive production of high-quality cultured meat products and they have the team to execute it,” Carmichael Roberts further commented.
Po Bronson, MD at IndieBio and General Partner at SOSV, was the first to recognise Prolific. He wrote the Pre-Seed check, and incubated them from IndieBio while they de-risked their early science. “Prolific was a radical idea with an incredible team, exactly what IndieBio loves. Prolific has broken all of the records at IndieBio, and I see their tech as the best in this space.”
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