- Plant-based burger maker Everything Legendary closed a $6 million Series A investment round led by CircleUp Growth Partners. The round also featured investments from General Mills' venture and innovation arm 301 Inc. and entrepreneur Mark Cuban, who first invested in the brand when it appeared on "Shark Tank" last year. Along with the investment round, the company announced that entrepreneur Russell Simmons is joining its board as a senior adviser.
- The Maryland-based company will use these funds to increase its store footprint and product lines. Everything Legendary's burgers and grounds are currently in 1,500 stores, and the company plans to launch in 5,600 grocery stores by this summer. It also plans to add sausage, boneless wings and breakfast patties to its portfolio.
- While Everything Legendary joins a crowded plant-based burger segment, the young brand has seen its star rise quickly through its stand-out packaging and energetic marketing efforts from co-founders Duane "Myko" Cheers, Danita Claytor and Jumoke Jackson.
Looking at numbers alone, a $6 million investment round is on the small side for a plant-based meat company today. But taking into consideration the brand, its backers and its potential, these funds could help the company live up to its name.
Not only has Everything Legendary's story been one of enviable growth — it has gone from R&D in local kitchens to manufacturing with co-packers in a matter of years — but the company is positioned to reach a target demographic for plant-based meat: the Black community. Black Americans have been embracing plant-based diets more quickly than others. According to Pew Research Center data cited by the BBC, 8% of Black Americans are vegan — almost three times as many as the 3% in the general population who follow the fully-animal-free diet. A Gallup poll from 2019 indicated 31% of non-White Americans had cut back on meat in the previous 12 months — quite a bit more than the 19% of Whites who had cut back.
The reasons plant-based diets are more popular in the Black community are many. Plant-based diets have been connected to better health for all, but studies have shown that the outcomes can be greater for Black consumers — who tend to have higher rates of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and obesity. Everything Legendary was started to help Cheers' and Claytor's mothers eat healthier plant-based products, according to a company statement.
Prominent members of the Black community — including Simmons, Serena Williams and Beyoncé — have also been outspoken about their preference for plant-based food. Black chefs and cookbook authors have made plant-based food that looks and tastes delectible. But there haven't been that many Black entrepreneurs in the plant-based meat space thus far. Everything Legendary's graffiti-inspired bright packaging and its visible and outspoken leaders — not to mention Simmons' mentorship — bring that kind of visibility to the segment.
But there's much more to the potential of Everything Legendary. The brand is now backed by General Mills, whose 301 Inc. portfolio has included plant-based meat leaders including Beyond Meat and Good Catch. General Mills' deep expertise can help Everything Legendary refine its product and marketing, while helping expand the brand to more stores.
There's also the burgers themselves, which are a clean-label blend of many ingredients not commonly found in plant-based meat. While the burgers are mostly made from pea protein, they also bring hemp protein into the mix. Flavorings include peppers, ginger, mango concentrate and cloves. The burgers have fewer calories and more protein than similar offerings from Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. They received enthusiastic responses from the "Shark Tank" judges when they first appeared on the show last year, and the company has said that its sales figures indicate it is one of the top three brands distributed to buyers.