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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Patron’s Jason Yeh Says The ‘Future of the Consumer Internet’ Will Look More Like a Game

Minnie Ingersoll
Minnie Ingersoll is a partner at TenOneTen and host of the LA Venture podcast. Prior to TenOneTen, Minnie was the COO and co-founder of $100M+ Shift.com, an online marketplace for used cars. Minnie started her career as an early product manager at Google. Minnie studied Computer Science at Stanford and has an MBA from HBS. She recently moved back to L.A. after 20+ years in the Bay Area and is excited to be a part of the growing tech ecosystem of Southern California. In her space time, Minnie surfs baby waves and raises baby people.
Jason yeh profile picture
Jason Yeh

On this episode of the LA Venture podcast, Patron co-founder and General Partner Jason Yeh discusses the technology driving internet innovation and a user-centered approach.

“At Patron we describe our thesis as the spectrum of play,” he said. “And so for us, it's kind of thinking about what the future of the consumer internet looks like. We believe that it's going to be more fun, social, interactive.”

As the former head of EU Sports at Riot Games, Yeh was in charge of shepherding the “League of Legends” game to players around the world. Much of his work and experience in that role influenced how he views interactive media and informs his investment decisions at Patron.

“This was just before Zynga had come out,” he explained. “And so it was still pretty counterintuitive to invest in a PC game, or to invest in this kind of idea of a free to play online game.”

Riot Games bet correctly, and their investment in a gaming format that could grow and evolve alongside its players challenged traditional ways of thinking about gaming marketing.

“It changed the course of how people build live services around games, and how you can use this business model to actually scale a really large business,” Yeh said.

But “League of Legends” wasn’t successful right away, and the Riot team worked hard to market their game to the correct audience. In addition to self-publishing the game in “almost every market around the world,” Yeh says he and his team paid close attention to the community of gamers.

“From very early on as a company, we focused on harnessing and being part of the community and using the community itself to help make the game more fun,” he said.

Yeh’s experience at Riot taught him the value of understanding your audience inside and out. Now, on the investment end of things at Patron, he is turning his sights to Web3.

“One thing that we've seen consistently is this idea that — similar to how we viewed gaming as a lens that can make the internet more social and fun — is this idea that Web3 and blockchain can be a technology that allows for a better version of the internet,” he said.

At Patron, Yeh believes in the importance of giving an audience more ownership and personalization in their online experience. He believes the shortcoming of many big media companies like Meta and YouTube is that they are becoming stagnant in improving user experiences and instead focusing their time and resources on advertising.

“If anything, it's like we've spent a lot of our best time and efforts to make advertising more targeted, or to see slightly more specific ads,” Yeh explained. “And so a lot of the core business model around the internet is still, how do I aggregate people's attention?”

Yeh believes that blockchain provides an alternative — a way for companies to get the biggest bang for their buck and users to get the most out of the products. For example, an avid Taylor Swift fan might spend hundreds of thousands of hours listening to the artist, but still, when a new album is released, their listening experience is the same as anyone else.

“One thing that we think blockchain enables is this idea that people can get more credit for the things that they do online, whether it's on chain or off chain,” Yeh continued. “This idea that there should be better ways to segment user bases, and kind of allow them to accrue value for the things that they've already done online to give them a slightly better or more personalized experience.”

In the years to come, Yeh thinks blockchain will continue challenging traditional forms of media to adapt to a more user-centered model.

“I think the most effective companies in the future are going to be the ones that focus not just on like Web3, Web2, but they focus on the internet as a whole.”

dot.LA Social and Engagement Editor Andria Moore contributed to this post.

Click the link above to hear the full episode, and subscribe to LA Venture on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

This podcast is produced by L.A. Venture. The views and opinions expressed in the show are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of dot.LA or its newsroom.

Is This LA Icon the Victim of Crypto Winter?

Daniel Nieblas
Daniel Nieblas is a bestselling author and featured writer for The Startup, the largest publication on Medium. His work covers various topics in technology, including Machine Learning, Autonomous Vehicles, and Cyberterrorism. He is also the Story Coordinator for LA Downtowner, and a Creative Associate of the Ferroconcrete Design.
​Crypto Arena before and after
Staples Center

Around this time last year, you could get a sense of the market fervor that the newly christened Crypto.com Arena embodied. A $700 million dollar naming rights deal had suddenly catapulted a small cryptocurrency exchange from relative anonymity into the global orbit of the house that Kobe built, formerly and often still addressed by fans as the Staples Center.

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These Are LA's Top Venture Capitalists of 2023, According to Their Fellow VCs

Kristin Snyder

Kristin Snyder is dot.LA's 2022/23 Editorial Fellow. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

These Are LA's Top Venture Capitalists of 2023, According to Their Fellow VCs

2022 was a tough year for venture capital. Venture deals fell throughoutthe year as the economic environment became uncertain.

But despite the economic downturn, VCs still flocked to LA’s growing tech and startup scene.

We asked more than 30 investors to share which VCs are the best Los Angeles has to offer. The following list reflects those who received two or more votes.

A few familiar faces popped up, such as Bonfire Ventures’ Mark Mullen and TenOneTen’s Minnie Ingersoll, who both received the most votes in previousyears. This year, Mullen topped the list with six votes, while Ingersoll and M13’s Anna Barber both came in second with three votes.

The below results are listed according to the number of votes received. In the case of a tie, the names are listed alphabetically by last name.

Here are LA’s top VCs of 2022 according to their peers:

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