- Crowd Cow, an online platform linking independent meat producers with consumers, has announced in a press release $8 million in Series A financing. The Seattle-based startup said Madrona Venture Group led the round, with participation from Sound Ventures and Liquid 2 Ventures.
- Crowd Cow said it plans to use the money to expand the ranches and farms offered online, improve its supply chain and seek out new craft meat and poultry products to offer on its platform.
- First launched in 2015, Crowd Cow is a "ranch to table service" that lets consumers order high-quality meat often not found in stores from ranchers and farmers and get it delivered directly to their doorstep.
Crowd Cow is trying to put an end to "mystery meat" by tapping into consumer demand for transparency and mission-based foods by bringing high-quality meat, poultry and fish to customers with information about where it came from and how it was raised. It advertises the beef it sells as grass-fed and says the ranchers don't use growth hormones and that antibiotics are only used to treat medical conditions.
This operational model also responds to the growing need for companies to offer convenience as well as quality. People can order limited amounts of locally produced meat online and have the products delivered versus trying to find a ranch, arrange payments and pickup, as well as find a group of people to go in on the large cow share. Crowd Cow also helps independent producers connect with a customer base far larger than commodity auctions or farmers markets.
As Crowd Cow grows, so has its "craft beef" offerings from various independent producers, which includes Japanese Wagyu beef as well pasture-raised chicken and heritage-breed pork, and soon, Alaska Copper River salmon. Customers can order specific cuts by the pound, and the products are vacuum-sealed in cryovac packages, flash-frozen and delivered with dry ice inside insulated boxes.
Crowd Cow started up in 2015 and was the brainchild of Ethan Lowry, co-founder of Urbanspoon, and Joe Heitzeberg, who headed the in-house incubator for Madrona Venture Group. The company is one of a few food companies finding success after originally launching through a crowdfunding model. The New York Times reported in January 2017 that Crowd Cow had sold nearly 200 cows online at that point.
In its news release, the company noted that it had generated $1 million in sales before going nationwide last summer. Kuli Kuli, maker of a gluten-free vegan bar, raised $153,000 through two rounds of crowdfunding. Other companies include Little Duck Organics and Rhythm Superfoods, snack makers who received Series A venture funding through CPG crowdfunding platform Circle Up.