How do you like your eggs? Sunny side up? Cruelty-free? Salmonella-free? Fluffy and tasty, with zero cholesterol? If so, foodtech startup EVO Foods has just the thing in its menu.
In its mission to revolutionise India’s sustainable food market, Mumbai-based EVO Foods is serving up Asia’s first plant-based egg, which may well be the answer for the dietary needs of India’s 400-million-strong vegetarian population.
Founded by Shraddha Bhansali and Kartik Dixit in 2019, EVO Foods uses advanced plant biochemistry and deep food science to create a brand of clean plant-based alternatives to animal products, starting with the liquid egg replacer.
The two founders, who are both second-time entrepreneurs, first met at a food conference in Mumbai in 2018. They instantly found common ground in their shared passion for food, sustainability, nutrition, and plant-based protein alternatives.
“Karthik and I realised that we both had a very clear mission: to bring the plant-based revolution to India and introduce a clean protein in the Indian market,” Shradhha says.
That’s how the duo – both self-professed foodies and passionate vegans – started EVO Foods and, together, came up with the idea of creating a clean egg alternative.
The science behind the EVO egg
To create the EVO egg, Shraddha and Kartik consulted food scientists and plant biochemists, while taking advantage of their own background in the sustainable food industry.
EVO Foods Co-founder & CEO Kartik Dixit
Kartik, the CEO, has, in the past, worked for a cultivated meat company, represented India at the first European conference on new protein, and been instrumental in building up the plant-based and cell-based substitutes sector in the country.
COO Shraddha, on the other hand, owns and operates a vegetarian restaurant and bar in Mumbai called Candy & Green, and is a well-known entrepreneur and sustainability activist.
“Since my background was in alternative protein, I already knew that many plant-based sources can be used for different kinds of applications in the cell-based industry. And because India is one of the largest producers of dry beans in the whole world, we have that kind of raw material and crop biodiversity here,” Kartik explains.
The EVO team analysed indigenous plant-based substitutes for protein and through their own proprietary research process identified two plant proteins extracted from legumes that provide the same level of taste, texture, and nutrition as a traditional egg.
Using a combination of these two plant proteins, EVO created a liquid egg replacer that was tested in-house at a pilot facility and at Shraddha’s Candy & Green restaurant.
Unlike a traditional egg, EVO’s liquid egg replacer has zero cholesterol, is lower in fat and in calories, devoid of antibiotics that are a common feature in poultry farms, and produced without practicing any animal cruelty.
“We wanted to give all the good of the egg without any of the bad. And the worst of the egg obviously being the ethical and sustainable problems around consuming it,” Shraddha adds.
EVO Foods Co-founder & COO Shraddha Bhansali
In addition, these eggs are fortified with vitamin D, a major deficiency for many Indians, and branched chain amino acids, which benefit muscle growth. Their protein content is also identical to that of a traditional egg, as is the taste and texture.
“We conducted surveys at Shraddha’s restaurant and included chefs in the whole process. All of them were really impressed with the product and what it was able to do,” Kartik adds.
Essentially, the egg replacer has a wide range of applications and can be made into omelettes and scrambled eggs or used in egg fried rice and quiches. The team is also working on making it an effective replacement for the traditional egg in baking; it expects this to be ready over the next eight months.
Global investors and advisors
Already, the startup’s current product, scheduled to be launched in August, is gaining local and international traction, most notably with industry veterans in the alternative protein space.
Ryan Bethencourt, Founder, Wild Earth made his first angel investment in an Indian company via EVO Foods.
EVO Foods boasts marquee names in the global plant and cell-based food industry as its investors, advisors, and mentors. They include US-Asia impact venture capital firm Big Idea Ventures (BIV) and Ryan Bethencourt, CEO of US-based clean protein dog food maker Wild Earth, which is backed by billionaire entrepreneurs and investors Peter Thiel and Mark Cuban.
Last month, Ryan announced, on LinkedIn, that he was making his first angel investment in an Indian company with EVO Foods.
He said, “Super delighted to announce my first Indian angel investment in a brand new company called EVO Foods; they’re transforming the Indian plant-based egg market. Why plant-based eggs? Because India is a massive market for eggs, yet there aren’t any good plant-based alternatives yet.”
EVO, which also counts serial entrepreneur and social activist Stephanie Downs as its strategic advisor, will be a part of BIV’s New York City accelerator cohort.
Founded and helmed by Andrew Ive, BIV has invested in several other leading clean food startups in Asia such as Singapore-based Shiok Meats and Karana.
Speaking about BIV’s decision to invest in EVO Foods, Andrew Ive says, “When we saw the investment opportunity from EVO, it was pretty clear that Kartik and Shraddha were on to something massive and would be a game-changer for not only the India market but globally as well.”
US-Asia impact venture firm Big Idea Ventures Founder Andrew Ive
Global consumer interest and adoption of plant-based protein food alternatives has been on the rise in recent years due to the increasing preference for cruelty-free food products, giving rise to a flurry of clean food innovators seeking to capture the market opportunity.
In India and abroad, Kartik and Shraddha are taking inspiration from several deep food science companies such as US-based Beyond Meat for its sheer innovation prowess and India’s very own cold press natural juice maker Raw Pressery for changing consumer behaviour from roadside juices.
According to market research firm Mordor Intelligence, the global protein alternatives market is estimated to record a compound annual growth rate of 7.4 percent between 2020 and 2025, with the Asia-Pacific region projected to be the fastest growing as consumers in these regions incorporate more proteins in their daily diets.
EVO Foods counts serial entrepreneur and social activist Stephanie Downs as a strategic advisor