For Aimee Yang, founder of a fast-growing food tech startup dubbed “beyond carb meat,” a better world starts with a better bagel.
Yang’s version of the New York staple is significantly lower in carbs and higher in protein, formulated with modified wheat starch, wheat protein isolates, potato starch, prebiotic inulin fiber, extra virgin olive oil, yeast, sea salt and enzymes.
She started her business, BetterBrand, just over a year ago on the ‘grain shift’ notion that eating dense, starchy foods can positively impact physical and mental health, she says. .
“I’ve struggled with food all my life, constantly oscillating between feeling guilty or deprived,” says Yang, a former litigation consultant and certified public accountant. “I used to dream of a world where I could eat whatever I wanted without having to worry about weight gain or negative health consequences. BetterBrand is now making that world a reality.
Foods high in refined carbohydrates, often linked to obesity, diabetes and heart disease, represent a $10 trillion market, “and yet that was totally untapped space,” Yang said, noting the recent explosion of innovation and investment in the meat substitute category. Early last year, it raised $1 million to support research and development efforts. Less than six months later, The Better Bagel debuted on the brand’s website for direct-to-consumer sales.
“We had no idea how long this process would take, and we did it immediately,” says Yang. “People have asked us what the odds are of that happening, and I mean it’s one in a million.”
Within three months, BetterBrand hit $1 million in revenue, driven largely by organic growth, Yang said. The startup raised an additional $2.5 million last October to prepare for large-scale retail distribution. Well-known investors betting on BetterBrand include Alexis Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six fund, actor Patrick Schwarzenegger and Sean Thomas, grandson of Wendy founder Dave Thomas.
The funding also helped Yang expand his team. Industry veteran Steve Polonowski recently joined the company as President and Chief Operating Officer. Matthew McDonald, former Executive Baker of the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group and Director of Culinary Innovation at Aryzta, oversees product development.
According to the company, the Better Bagel has the net carb equivalent of two slices of banana, the protein content of four eggs, and the sugar content of a stalk of celery. In February, the brand added an all bagel, topped with organic sesame and poppy seeds, garlic and onion.
Yang says the company can easily expand into other grain-based foods, having tackled the “highest carb product”.
“We believe unnecessary boundaries are meant to be broken,” Yang says.