Daring Foods Aims to Take Faux Chicken Mainstream with $8M Raise

Leslie Ignacio

Leslie Ignacio is dot.LA's editorial intern. She is a recent California State University, Northridge graduate and previously worked for El Nuevo Sol, Telemundo and NBC and was named a Chips Quinn Scholar in 2019. As a bilingual journalist, she focuses on covering diversity in news. She's a Los Angeles native who enjoys trips to Disneyland in her free time.

Daring Foods Aims to Take Faux Chicken Mainstream with $8M Raise

Daring Foods wants to do for plant-based chicken what Beyond Meat and the Impossible Burger did for faux meat: Take it mainstream and, in the process, convert a few carnivores.

The Los Angeles-based company just raised $8 million and is about to launch its newest product: Plant-based protein "chicken" tenders.


Originally conceived in the United Kingdom in 2018, the founders moved to New York after U.S. investors showed interest at the end of last year.

Soon after, co-founders Ross Mackay (CEO ) and Eliott Kessas (COO) decided to move full time to Los Angeles, joining El Segundo-based Beyond Meat and other plant-based startups that have found a receptive market in the region's health-conscious residents.

"L.A. is really the capital of health and wellness. And I was very inspired by a lot of CPG (consumer packaged goods) brands here," said Mackay, who moved in March.

Los Angeles has long been a hub of food experimentation, as restaurants and bars embraced vegan options long before chain restaurants like Burger King and Starbucks added faux meat to the menu.

It was here that Mackay and Kessas found a natural fit for their lifestyle.

"We've been friends for more than 10 years and really shared a passion for health, nutrition, but also plant- based diet," Mackay said. "The business was really built for a real need: We were consuming a lot of other plant based meats on the market and thought that there was a gap... particularly in the chicken forum."


Analysts are projecting the plant-based protein and meat alternative market to grow to $85 billion by 2030, and Daring is looking to compete with their plant-based chicken. Beyond and other imitation meat makers have similar products, but none have broken through.

Late last year, Darling struck a distribution deal with Arizona-based Sprouts Farmers Market. Darling's original, cajun, and lemon-and-herb flavored pieces are now sold in Sprouts, Gelson's, Bristol Farms and Fresh Thyme, but the company still offers them to consumers directly through their website.

The fresh round of funding will help Daring expand their 12-person team as they look to establish outposts on the East and West coasts.

Meanwhile the company will boost its marketing efforts as it readies to sell their breaded chicken-like products in stores on October 1st.

The series A funding is led by Maveron with additional support from GoodFriends, Stray Dog Capital, Palm Tree Crew Investments and private investors Mike Smith and Brian Swette.

Daring hopes to use their products to help educate people on the health benefits of consuming plant-based products and promote alternatives to chicken farming, which has been criticized as cruel.

With the pandemic, they see an opening.

"Without doubt, COVID as a whole has placed an emphasis on the importance of health," said Mackay. "And if you double down on that, what we put in our body in particular animal protein has been questioned. So consumers have looked for alternatives to meat. And of course, steering being available both online and in stores, and groceries, it's actually improved our sell through rate in retail."

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Office Hours: MyFitnessPal CEO Tricia Han on How to Reboot a Business

Spencer Rascoff

Spencer Rascoff serves as executive chairman of dot.LA. He is an entrepreneur and company leader who co-founded Zillow, Hotwire, dot.LA, Pacaso and Supernova, and who served as Zillow's CEO for a decade. During Spencer's time as CEO, Zillow won dozens of "best places to work" awards as it grew to over 4,500 employees, $3 billion in revenue, and $10 billion in market capitalization. Prior to Zillow, Spencer co-founded and was VP Corporate Development of Hotwire, which was sold to Expedia for $685 million in 2003. Through his startup studio and venture capital firm, 75 & Sunny, Spencer is an active angel investor in over 100 companies and is incubating several more.

Tricia Han
Image courtesy of Tricia Han

On this episode of Office Hours, MyFitnessPal CEO Tricia Han discusses her role revitalizing the company and redefining its mission during a time of uncertainty for the company.

“I love a good reboot,” she said. “Let me just say that. That's how I came to be at the company.”

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Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

LA Tech ‘Moves’: Harbinger Taps Tesla Exec, REAL Messenger Gains Meta Director
LA Tech ‘Moves’:

“Moves,” our roundup of job changes in L.A. tech, is presented by Interchange.LA, dot.LA's recruiting and career platform connecting Southern California's most exciting companies with top tech talent. Create a free Interchange.LA profile here—and if you're looking for ways to supercharge your recruiting efforts, find out more about Interchange.LA's white-glove recruiting service by emailing Sharmineh O’Farrill Lewis (sharmineh@dot.la). Please send job changes and personnel moves to moves@dot.la.

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Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

This Week in ‘Raises’: Bionaut Labs Grabs $43M, Embodied Lands $19.2M
Modified by Joshua Letona

Robotics company Bionaut Labs raised fresh funding to advance its first-in-class micro-robotic technology and remove the barriers to treat rare and debilitating diseases, while digital pathology company PictorLabs launched out of stealth and will use its funding to continue developing an AI-powered virtual staining platform and accelerate clinical research to improve patient outcomes.

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