French startup Bon Vivant raises $15.9M to make animal-free dairy proteins

At a time when many tech startups have found it challenging to raise money, a France-based precision fermentation startup named Bon Vivant has raised a substantial amount of money from investors and credits it for clarity of strategy and execution. They also credit themselves on a decision they took which was to “focus exclusively on a b2b business model — meaning the novel protein startup is aiming to be a supplier for, not competitor to, the food industry”.

CEO and co-founder, Stéphane MacMillan, says “Since the beginning we’re focused — b2b oriented. And in Europe, in particular, almost all [competitors] are still b2c, b2b2c; [or have an] unclear strategy. That’s a big differentiator”. “I think that explains why, in only 19 months, we’ve attracted investors — because since the beginning we have a strategy that is clear and that we are executing on which helps a lot, obviously. Because there’s clarity. Then the team is structured this way. The processes are put in place… So that’s, I think, one of the key decisions why also we attracted Sofinnova, which is the biggest VC in biotech in Europe.”

“My view is when you are a startup you need to understand, pretty closely on the value chain, where are you good — and actually better than anyone else to do it?”. “I consider that building the tech, building the process of fermentation, doing purification. All of that we can bring a lot… But when it comes to marketing, distribution and producing tonnes of final product, I don’t think I’m going to be better than any Danone or Nestlé”.

“Honestly, I don’t want to compete with them… I would love to partner with them and then actually also if you’re serious about the [environmental] impact that you want to drive and… you are really serious about your mission then the only way to have the bigger impact is to help the guys that are doing tonnes of dairy products every single day. And so you don’t want to fight them on marketing, distribution and new product but help them with an ingredient that allows them to reduce their footprint.”

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