Jay-Z Invests in Plant-Based Food Company SIMULATE, Creator of NUGGS
Music superstar Jay-Z is the latest in a growing list of investors to support the plant-based food technology company SIMULATE. Following a $50 million funding round led by the venture capital arm of Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian's SEVEN SEVEN SIX, Bloomberg confirmed that Marcy Venture Partners (MVP) – Jay-Z’s investment fund founded alongside Roc Nation CEO Jay Brown and venture capitalist Larry Marus – participated in the funding package. The latest funding round brought the company’s valuation at more than $250 million.
SIMULATE entered the market in 2019, when then 19-year-old Ben Pasternak decided to experiment with plant-based protein alternatives. Pasternak hoped to develop a plant-based chicken product that mirrors conventional chicken in taste and texture with a healthy nutritional value. His food tech company launched NUGGS, which presents the company’s flagship plant-based chicken alternative that aims to give consumers a sustainable twist on a familiar favorite.
“Historically our food system has rejected the use of technology, resulting in a system that is highly inefficient and primitive,” Pasternak said. “This new funding will be used to create and protect the intersection of technology and nutrition.”
The food tech company earned the name the “Tesla of chicken” in recent years. After releasing its initial chicken product NUGGS through its direct-to-consumer model in 2019, the company saw a swell of positive consumer response. Following the successful launch, SIMULATE rolled out its plant-based chicken nuggets in Walmart, Target, Whole Foods Market, and Sam’s Club across the United States, reaching across more than 5,000 stores total. Pasternak plans to continue the expansion and reach 10,000 additional retail locations by the end of the year.
SIMULATE’s overwhelming success of its NUGGS products led to the release of its DISCS, a plant-based chicken patty. The DISCS can only be found online, but will eventually be phased into the company’s distribution model, which recently entered the Canadian market.
In 2019, the company secured a $7 million funding package led by partnering company McCain Foods. The initial funding package included investors such as founder of MTV Bob Pittman, former president of Tumblr John Malony, and Casper founder Neil Parikh.
Before leading the 2021 series-b funding round, Ohanian helped the food tech company raised $4.1 million alongside former Whole Foods executive Walter Robb and model Jasmine Tookes. Earlier this year, actor Patrick Schwarzenegger invested in the vegan chicken brand’s NUGGS. The actor who is notably involved in the plant-based market is not the first public figure either. Bella Hadid received a special delivery of the company’s NUGGS after it sold out in 2020. The company sent Hadid her own personal package of the plant-based chicken nuggets to become the “official taste tester of NUGGS.”
Jay-Z’s plant-based investments go far beyond the plant-based chicken company. The music legend has invested in a number of plant-based companies including Impossible Foods, vegan cookie brand Partake Foods, and oat milk giant Oatly. Jay-Z’s MVP led Partake Foods’ $1 million investments round. He also joined Impossible Foods’ $300 million Series E funding round alongside Trevor Noah, Katy Perry, Questlove, Jaden Smith, and Serena Williams.