Mahsa Vazin is no stranger to innovation.

The scientist started her career at the Redwood City, California-based Impossible Foods, where she worked in research and development. But once she adopted her dog, Paco, she started to think about how she could use her knowledge in the field of nanoscience to ensure he got the best nutrition possible--leading her, in 2021, to found PawCo, a San Francisco-based plant-based pet nutrition brand.

Vazin bootstrapped the company to create its core ingredient: GreenMeat, its plant-based meat, which it developed using artificial intelligence to optimize both its nutrition and palatability. In 2022, PawCo officially launched.

In February, the company announced a $2 million seed raise led by Elevate Ventures, which Vazin hopes will further drive PawCo's growth. The plant-based pet food market, valued at $26 billion in 2021, is projected to grow to $57 billion by 2032, according to the global market intelligence company Future Market Insights.

Vazin shares how the company secured its funding and what it plans to do with that capital.
 

What prompted this round of fundraising? When and how did you go about it?

"We bootstrapped and launched our first product about a year ago, then we started talking to 100 investors and built a great network, and went from $0 to $1 million ARR within a year, and the growth was exponential. We found an early product-market fit, and we believed this is the right time to scale the operation and launch new products. The $2 million seed funding round, led by Elevate Ventures, as well as other angel investors such as Arash Ferdowsi, co-founder of Dropbox, helps us take PawCo to the next level and prepare to raise our Series A in nine to 12 months."
 

What was your fundraising journey like?

"The tipping point was when we won the in-prize pitch competition out of 450 startups (that attended globally) in August 2023 and showed exponential growth in our revenue and metrics. After that, we received enormous inbound interest to invest in this round. In addition, we used our extended network of advisers to get introductions to strategic investors, actively investing in the pet industry and consumer goods industry. Even though the market situation was not the best, we were able to close the round within weeks and we are on the right track to raise our Series A in the next nine to 12 months."
 

What do you plan to do with this funding?

"With this funding, we'll be able to scale our operations by opening a second production facility [a Midwest location to complement the current facility in California]. Additionally, we'll further invest in growth, research and development, new recipes, and marketing tactics to drive awareness for the plant-based pet food category. We intend to solidify the plant-based pet food category through market expansions, new production facilities, and big product launches. PawCo is looking forward to growing and providing pet owners with healthy and nutritious options for their dogs, while also creating a product that's safer and more sustainable for the planet."

Source: Inc.

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