Recommendations and reviews platform for plant-based food and lifestyle, abillionveg, announced that it has secured US$2 million in a seed round, bringing their total funding to US$2.6 million.
The round is led by US-based venture fund, 500 Startups.
Other investors include New York-based 1/0 Capital, Zurich-based Blue Horizon Group, Singapore-based Calibre Ventures, and family offices across Asia and the US.
Founder of Hong Kong-based Room to Read and author, John Wood, joined the board as investor and adviser to abillionveg.
The funds will be used to accelerate their efforts in recruitment, technology, and growing their community, according to the statement.
“Our focus is on building a community to help us achieve the $1 million milestone by the end of 2020,” said Vikas Garg, founder and CEO of abillionveg.
This marks one of the largest seed rounds for a social impact startup in SEA and for a plant-based startup globally, the company said.
Founded in Singapore, abillionveg lets users earn credits when they post reviews about plant-based food and establishments, as well as cruelty-free consumer products.
These credits can be converted into donations for animal and marine life welfare organisations.
When Vulcan Post asked if there’s a big community of his target audience here that influenced his decision to start up in Singapore, Vikas answered, “No.”
“In the beginning, I really questioned whether we were shooting ourselves in the foot (and every other body part) by starting anywhere besides the US.”
“But I was already here working for another company, and the entrepreneurial spirit of Singapore was infectious, so I stayed with the mindset: ‘Let’s show the world that a global movement can start here.'”
Vikas said they aim to help a billion people join the plant-based movement by 2030.
“Currently, approximately 5% of the world’s population or 400 million people identify as vegetarian,” he added.
The company also wants to donate US$1 billion to support animal welfare and education causes eventually and are planning to donate US$1 million in 2020.
Since launching in May 2018, 50,000 reviews have been uploaded across 30,000 vegan dishes and 8,000 consumer products in 90 countries.
The abillionveg app has seen a 40% to 50% monthly growth in Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, Canada, US, and the UK.
“Our growth reflects demand in the market for more sustainable options… We want to see that number at 10-15 per cent higher,” Vikas noted.
He added that there’s a global trend of consumers advocating against animal agriculture and driving shifts in their purchasing behaviours when it comes to the food and products they consume.
On how abillionveg intends to acquire users, Vikas revealed that it has been mostly organic so far thanks to their social impact-first approach.
He explained that their donation to “impactful groups working on animal welfare around the globe” helps them to reach people who are aligned with them on their mission.
“With our fundraising behind us, we can support our organic growth with advertising.”
Wood, who used to work at Microsoft, is “excited to support Vikas in achieving his vision”.
“These trends represent a gap in the market and an opportunity for abillionveg,” he said.
“Our platform gives a voice to a consumer demographic seeking to practice conscious consumerism and that includes what’s on their plate and the products they use every day.”
Vikas is confident in their “unique combination of technology and ‘friendly’ activism” model, which “provides investors with a commercially viable sustainability ecosystem”.
Add to that, he observed that there’s an unfulfilled and rapidly growing consumer demographic.
“In this way, our unique Investors can invest in a socially responsible way, and in doing so support in driving socially responsible consumerism on a global scale,” concluded Vikas.
abillionveg currently has nine full-time staff and they are looking to double the size within the next 12 months with vacancies for software engineers, designers, and marketers.
Featured Image Credit: abillionveg