Working closely with our greatest caretaker, Mother Nature, to cultivate the complete protein she intended — one that’s been the root of our living world for millennia. We’re connecting and empowering eaters everywhere to evolve energetically.
A look at the backstory of our founders and milestones on the company's path to what it is today.
Though Tyler Huggins and Justin Whiteley grew up in different parts of the country, they shared a passion for science, the environment, and addressing humanity’s most pressing challenges that would bring them together in 2015 as Ph.D. students in Colorado. Within months of beginning to collaboratively research mushroom root (aka mycelium), they knew they had a nature-based tool for taking on many global issues. Over beers at a Boulder brewery in April 2016, they decided to start a company that would guide fungi’s miraculous biotechnological power toward efficiently meeting humanity’s needs. When their deeper investigation of crafting protein from mushroom roots crossed paths with growing public alarm about the food system, their big ambitions had finally found a home: Eat Meati™, a company that would provide delicious, nutritious, and Earth-friendly nutrition to everyone.
Mega Ranch Opening and $22 Million Additional Investment
Carne Asada Steaks Are Released
Time's Best Inventions of 2022
The Meati Crispy and Classic Cutlets make Time’s Best Inventions of 2022 list. The annual roundup looks at hundreds of innovations changing the way we live when it comes to transportation, nutrition, energy, and more. “Both cutlets, one breaded and one not, look and taste remarkably like actual chicken,” wrote the author.
The Today Show and 'How to Eat Plants' With Samah Dada
$150 Million Series C Investment
The $150 million investment round was led by Revolution Growth, with participation from existing and new investors, including Grosvenor Food & AgTech, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPP Investments), Wellington Management, and Cultivate Next, Chipotle Mexican Grill’s new venture fund which included Meati Foods in its first cohort of investments.
"Steaking a Claim" as an Industry Leader
Meati’s Classic Steak, one of the first and few whole-cut animal-free steaks to go to market, is released as part of the company’s DTC sale on May 23.
It takes 20 minutes for Meati to sell every cutlet in its product drop on April 20.
Official Launch of DTC Store and David Chang Partnership
The company goes official with its DTC store on March 21 and announces its partnership with David Chang, chef and founder of Momofuku and Majordomo Media. Inventory sells out in 2.5 hours.
Meati's First QSR Partnership: Birdcall
One of Colorado’s best fried chicken eateries and quick service restaurants (QSR), Birdcall, includes Meati in its offerings, which aim to “make natural foods more accessible and affordable.”
$50 Million Series B Funding
The oversubscribed round was co-led by new investor BOND and long-time Meati investor Acre Venture Partners and included Prelude Ventures, Congruent Ventures, and Tao Capital. Numerous global leaders in the movement to create sustainable food systems also participated with new or upsized investments: Walter Robb (former Whole Foods Market CEO); Rose Marcario (former Patagonia CEO); John Foraker (Once Upon a Farm CEO and former Annie’s Organic CEO); Nicolas Jammet and Jonathan Neman (co-founders of Sweetgreen); Sam Kass (former White House senior policy advisor for nutrition and partner at Acre Venture Partners); David Barber (co-owner of Blue Hill Restaurants and founder of Almanac Investments); and the Alinea Group (including one of the most awarded and recognized chefs in the world, Grant Achatz).
Space Secured for the Mega Ranch
The company secures a site in Colorado for its Mega Ranch, a facility slated to launch in late 2022, that will produce millions of pounds of Meati.
$28 Million Series A Funding
The company raises $28 million in a Series A investment round.
Meati's First Restaurant Partnership: SALT
SALT, a bistro on Pearl Street in Boulder that focuses on locally sourced, sustainable food, adds Meati to its menu. The “Bahn Meati” sandwich proves very popular.
Say Hello to Meati
To emphasize a focus on food products and a dedication to producing whole-cut alternatives to animal-based meals, the Meati brand takes to the stage, and the original company name of Emergy shifts to the background.
$4.8 Million Seed Round and Grant
A $4.8 million investment round and an SBIR Phase II grant from the National Science Foundation push the company forward. Tyler and Justin, missing Colorado’s crisp mountain air and forest hiking trails, part ways with BTRFY Foods and begin the trek back west to take their new venture to the next level.
Justin and Tyler connect with Kati Karottki (currently VP of marketing with New Age Meats) in Chicago. The trio sees an exciting business opportunity arise as consumers become hungry for plant-based alternative meats that address the food system’s impacts on the environment, people’s health, and animal welfare. They start BTRFY Foods, a company that made snacks from mushroom root (mycelium), out of a former meatpacking plant in Chicago called The Plant. To maximize the sustainability of the product, they use breweries’ byproducts to provide the energy the mushroom root needs to grow. They are helped along by a $221,000 SBIR Phase I grant from the National Science Foundation and a $150,000 SBIR Phase I grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Chain Reactions Innovations (CRI) Program
Justin and Tyler take part in the first cohort of the Chain Reactions Innovations two-year program at Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago’s suburbs. It offered financial support, expertise, and high-end laboratory research equipment that was essential to their continued research. They focused on tuning the growth and harvesting of mushroom root growth to produce various high-value products, such as a porous carbon material for batteries, water filters, and even alternative meat.
Justin and Tyler join the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program. Structured as an eight-week innovation boot camp, it helps scientists understand how their research can be used to build companies that solve real and pressing problems.
Research Paper at the Core of Their Vision
Tyler’s and Justin’s research article, “Controlled Growth of Nanostructured Biotemplates with Cobalt and Nitrogen Codoping as a Binderless Lithium-Ion Battery Anode,” is published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. It’s notable in that it focused on how to control the growth of mushroom root (mycelium) to guide it toward innately possessing different chemical and physical properties that would be useful for a variety of reasons. In contrast, most researchers were focused on how to process and manipulate various materials after they were harvested.
Tyler obtains his Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering. Justin gets his doctorate in mechanical engineering. Both acquired patents during their studies and published a number of important research papers.
Spores of the Company
As the end of their doctoral programs near, Tyler and Justin are enjoying beers at Backcountry Pizza & Tap House in Boulder when they decide to do together what they both had been individually dreaming of executing for a long time: start a company with a mission that would match their ambitions to solve the world’s biggest problems. They knew their understanding of how to guide the growth of mushroom root (mycelium) meant it could be the foundation of such an endeavor — a true nature-based platform for meeting all kinds of critical human needs, from energy storage to food. They call the business Emergy, a term that describes the total energy that goes into making something.
The Founders Meet
Tyler, increasingly aware of the remarkable capabilities of mushroom root (mycelium) as he continues his Ph.D. program at CU Boulder, reaches out to the head of the school’s renowned Electrochemical Energy Laboratory (ECEL) to see how fungi could be used in batteries, a technology that was getting significant research attention and funding. Tyler is pointed toward Justin, a member of the lab who fielded many unusual requests. When the two of them meet in a basement office within the school’s engineering building, they talk for hours about their scientific endeavors, many side projects, mushroom root, and how they could guide the living material to become a nature-based technology for biomanufacturing everything from battery components to food. Their collaboration begins.
Heading to Colorado for Graduate School
In 2010, Tyler began his grad school program at the University of Colorado, Boulder, studying environmental, sustainability, and civil engineering, with Professor Z. Jason Ren (now at Princeton) as his Ph.D. advisor. In 2012, Justin came to the university to begin his master’s and Ph.D. work in mechanical engineering with Professor Sehee Lee as his advisor. Both of them saw their graduate school educations not as an endpoint or route to an academic career, but as a step they needed to take to develop a technology that would power a world-changing business.
The Undergrad Years
While studying botany and applied ecology at the University of Montana from 2003 to 2008, Tyler worked with a professor on her research into the symbiotic relationship between native plants and mycorrhizal fungi. It marked an important step on his journey to discover and understand something straight from Mother Nature’s toolbox that could be guided toward solving humanity’s biggest problems. Tyler also spent these years continuing to work for the U.S. Forest Service as a field biologist and wilderness ranger. Toward the end of his undergraduate program, he started a land restoration and bio-remediation company that took root in Colorado. Immersed in academic and first-hand knowledge of the natural world and environmental sustainability, and adept at running a business, he got ready to take another step to help him realize his ambitions to solve the world’s toughest problems with entrepreneurism, science, and nature: graduate school.
Mid-1980s to early 2000s
Justin’s family home rested on a quiet and semi-isolated two acres within the redwoods of Santa Cruz’s mountains. Walks through the forest were a regular occurrence. With both parents in possession of doctorates and two brothers who also eventually acquired Ph.D.s, so too were family conversations full of healthy skepticism and questions about the natural world. Throughout high school, Justin dreamed of designing buildings and worked as a drafter at an architectural firm. Though the experience led him to abandon the career path, it also exposed him to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), the rating system used around the world to classify a structure’s sustainability. That inspired him to think more deeply about how he could help solve environmental problems facing the globe.
Tyler could walk out the back door of his childhood home near Missoula, Montana, and be strolling through a national forest. Those hikes — which included identifying plants and mushrooms with the help of classification books he carried with him — gave him a deep and lasting love for nature. During his high school summers, he worked as a backcountry maintenance engineer for the U.S. Forest Service, learning the ins and outs of protecting and restoring America’s natural landscapes. He also spent ample time on the family’s bison ranch in Nebraska, getting a close-up view of sustainable animal husbandry and the connections between land, air, water, animals, plants, and people. While traveling the state, he also observed industrialized farms and concentrated animal feeding operations, giving him a visceral understanding of our society’s food system.
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