Billionaires Are Betting Big on Alternative Meat

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Creating designer protein that can make your veggie burger taste like the real thing is as easy as brewing beer. Or at least that’s what a new subsidiary of Boston-based bio-manufacturing startup, Ginkgo Bioworks Inc., says.

Ginkgo’s Motif Ingredients, which aims to replicate animal protein for meatless alternatives, is getting $90 million from investors including Breakthrough Energy Ventures, whose board includes tech billionaires Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Jack Ma. Commodity powerhouse Louis Dreyfus Co. and Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd, New Zealand’s dairy-exporting giant, are also backing the company.

The goal at Ginkgo is to get alternative products to market faster, chief executive officer Jason Kelly said in an interview. In a statement announcing the funding, the company likened making alternative foods to the beer-brewing process, because vital ingredients such as vitamins, amino acids, enzymes, and flavors are made through fermentation with genetically engineered yeasts and bacteria. Eliminating extra time in the lab can streamline the process and make it go faster, Kelly said.

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Papa John’s Accepts $200 Million Investment From Activist Hedge Fund

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“Papa John’s International Inc. is handing over the keys to the embattled pizza chain in exchange for a $200 million investment.

Activist fund Starboard Value LP is supplying the funds and its chief executive officer, Jeffrey Smith, is becoming chairman. He steps into the role vacated last year by Papa John’s founder John Schnatter after reports emerged that he used a racial slur. Schnatter tried to make his own similar deal and said he was shot down.

The infusion comes as the pizza chain also reported preliminary results for the fourth quarter and last year that missed analysts’ estimates. The company had already been in a sales slump before the latest controversy began last summer. Papa John’s plans to use the proceeds to repay debt and invest in the business, it said in a statement. Starboard is making its investment through the purchase of new convertible preferred stock, and the deal includes the option of an additional $50 million investment.

Shares of Papa John’s gained as much as 11 percent to $42.74 in New York trading Monday, the biggest intraday jump since July.”

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Coca-Cola Backs Restaurant Tech Company

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“Coca-Cola’s 2018 investment binge continues with a contribution to Hayward, Cali.-based restaurant tech company Omnivore.

The Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) was a lead investor in a $10 million Series A for Omnivore, a universal point-of-sale connectivity platform, alongside Performance Food Group and additional funds from Tampa Bay Lightning owner, Jeff Vinik.

Omnivore promotes an “end-to-end suite of solutions” to help optimize the digital restaurant experience, such as online ordering, paying at the table, third-party delivery, kiosk/digital menus and analytics. The financing will be used to accelerate current development and growth of proprietary Omnivore products that minimize friction for restaurant brands, third-party technologies, and POS companies, according to a news release.”

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Structure for Success!

Structuring your restaurant ownership is a balance of needs, wants, sweat, and cold hard cash. There is no one right formula, and rarely is the formula the same from restaurant to restaurant. In this month’s Enterprise Insight, we discuss some common options, and how to balance your narrative and numbers. Specifically, we will review entities, equity vs. profit distribution, management fees, and valuations.

Restaurants are most commonly set up as a Limited Liability Corporation. More importantly, though, is to actually set up two: one for the physical location, and one for the intangibles, such as intellectual property. The purpose of this is to balance the equity and access to the brand that an investor group has. For example, if you publish a cookbook with only one LLC—then your investors, who have equity in that LLC, are entitled to a share of those profits. This leads to our second point, equity and profit distribution.

Equity vs. Profit Distribution
The first thing to determine is the ownership interest of the involved parties and how that differs from the profit distribution. As an LLC, which most foodservices enterprises should be, the business can distribute profits differently than the equity is split. This allows an owner to retain a majority stake but pay out his or her investors with an accelerated distribution.

Accelerated returns are common, but they can handicap the enterprise if the operator is left with nothing to help fuel growth. This is part of the reason why we advise owners take a management fee.

Management Fees
As the creators and operators of a concept, owners should consider pulling a management fee from the top line, especially if the concept is or will be multi-unit. This allows owners to accomplish two things: fund the centralized back-office operations and lower his or her risk by not relying on profits for compensation.

This is particularly important for operators with a pre-existing brand or background in the space. These management fees get directed to the holding corporation that we previously discussed. Think of this as protecting the intellectual property and creating a salary for the developer.  Generally, the more an investor wants in equity and distribution, the more important a management fee is.

Determining the mix of management fees, equity, distribution, and ownership locations is always murky. Some operators say the idea is worth 33%, the work is worth 33%, and so their sweat equity is worth two thirds. Some operators base the valuation on a multiplier—usually five to six times—of the third year’s EBITDA, usually the year the restaurant hits its stride.

Ultimately, we advise that operators ask two questions: what must prove true, and what happens when? The right formula is based on your needs—what you need to see happen with the business—and your comfort with balancing risk and reward—what you do when the good and bad happen.