Yamo, a self-described “food tech” startup that manufactures and sells healthier foods for babies and toddlers, has raised EUR 10.1 million in Series A funds.
The support comes from the European technology investor for food and agriculture, Five Seasons Ventures, the Swiss Entrepreneurs Fund, Ringier Digital Ventures, Müller Ventures, btov Partners, Polytech Ventures, BackBone Ventures and Fundament. The total funding amounts to EUR 12 million.
Founded in 2016 by CEO Tobias Gunzenhauser, COO José Amado-Blanco and CMO Luca Michas, yamo is on a mission to provide parents with a healthier and easier food selection for their young children. The products are available online through the direct customer subscription model and grocery stores. The latter includes Coop in Switzerland and trials in selected Edeka and Rewe branches in Germany. With the new funding, Yano is expanding to France and will launch new foods for children.
"In October 2015, Luca and I were employees in the same company, and we decided to eat vegan for a month," says Gunzenhauser when asked about the start-up. “After we started our vegan challenge, we had to search food labels for hidden animal products. At that point we realized how many products in the supermarket contain unnecessary sugar and unhealthy ingredients. Out of curiosity, we checked the baby food course and naively assumed that these were the cleanest and healthiest food products on the market. We were completely wrong ”.
Gunzenhauser and Michas observed that baby food products typically contained sugar and salt, artificial vitamins, and "a scary long shelf life (which seemed rather strange)".
“Everyone was talking about fresh, healthy, and sustainable food for adults, but the world was still feeding the youngest members of our family with products that were older than the babies they ate. Something was wrong and we didn't understand it. "
At that time, Amado-Blanco, an old friend of Gunzenhauser and a food scientist, explained that these products were heat-sterilized, a process that also affected the vitamin content, color and taste of the product. The trio decided that there had to be a better way and Yamo was born.
“We talked to many young parents about how they perceived the current supermarket offer, how they feed their children and what is necessary for them. We saw a clear gap in the market and set ourselves the goal of creating the freshest and most delicious baby purees the world has ever seen, ”explains Gunzenhauser.
Instead of conventional heat sterilization, Yamo uses high pressure pasteurization (HPP), which kills bacteria within minutes and maintains the natural nutrients, taste, color and smell of the food. Yamo products keep chilled between eight and twelve weeks. The first non-milk yogurt for children using oat milk was recently launched in Europe.
Gunzenhauser names Yamo's main competitor as home-made baby food because the vast majority of baby food is still made by parents at home. “This could be due to the parents' distrust of today's retail offer. Our challenge is to show parents how Yamo can help them raise their children healthy without compromise, ”he says.
Of course, the young company also has to do with established baby foods, and the yamo CEO admits that the big challenge is keeping their products cool. "There is no such thing as normal baby food," he says. “So we had to convince retailers to change the way they sell baby food. Coop changed its shelves for us and integrated a refrigerator in the normal aisle for baby food. "
There are other startups that enter the room. For example, in the UK there are Little Tummy and Mia & Ben, and in the USA there are Yumi, among others.