Karana Taking Advantage of Singaporean Demand for Meat Replacements; BYP Network Funding for Networking Platform for Black Professionals


The FGB Digest brings you the latest news on the world’s fastest growing direct-to-consumer and challenger brands. In today’s edition: Karana taking advantage of Singaporean demand for meat replacements; BYP Network funding for networking platform for black professionals; and Things looking up for WeWork.

Karana taking advantage of Singaporean demand for meat replacements

Sinaporean start-up Karana has announced it has raised USD$1.7m in seed funding and plans to launch its first product, a pork substitute made from jackfruit, this year.

Singaporeans have a growing appetite for plant-based meat substitutes. In fact, demand for products from companies like Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods and Quorn have grown during the pandemic, partly because consumers are making more health-conscious decisions. 

Karana’s jackfruit is sourced from Sri Lanka, where jackfruit is already a common meat substitute. What Karana’s processing method does is create a texture that replicates minced and shredded pork more closely, making it easier to use in dishes like dumplings, char siu bao or bahn mi.  Its pork substitute will be available in restaurants this year, before arriving in retail stores at the beginning of next year.

Karana’s founders started with pork because it is the most frequently consumed meat in Asia. Its seed funding will be used on research and development to launch new products, and the company is currently talking to strategic partners in other Asian markets. Future Karana products will use other crops grown in Asia to create new meat substitutes.

BYP Network funding for networking platform for black professionals

BYP Network, a business empowering black professionals around the world to connect with each other and global corporations, is fundraising on Seedrs. The business has currently raised £560k – 112% of its initial £500k target. 

With over 40k members across 65 countries, and 60+ corporate partners, BYP has seen over £300k revenue since launch, and has been accepted onto the London Stock Exchange Elite Program. 

BYP was created in Autumn 2016 after a culmination of black lives matter movement and the company’s founder’s personal experiences. Alongside this, the UK was struggling with the highest rates of knife crime epidemic, the lack of black people in companies let alone senior positions and an inability to find positive role models outside of the entertainment industry.

From this BYP Network was created to ‘change the black narrative’ by bringing the black professional global community together to solve our own problems through economic empowerment and connectivity.

BYP has over 60,000 social media followers, 18,000 job applications through the platform and they have hosted over 5,000 members at online/offline events. 

Things looking up for WeWork

After aggressive cost-cutting measures, including mass layoffs and selling several of its businesses, WeWork’s chairman expects the company to have positive cash flow in 2021. Marcelo Claure, who became WeWork’s chairman after co-founder Adam Neumann resigned as chief executive officer last fall, told the Financial Times that the co-working space startup is on target to meet its goal, set in February, of reaching operating profitability by the end of next year.

Claure is also chief operating officer of SoftBank Group, which invested USD$18.5bn in the co-working space, according to leaked comments made by Claure during an October all-hands meeting.

SoftBank said in April that it would lose USD$24bn on investments, with one of the main reasons being WeWork’s implosion last year. The company’s financial and management issues brought its valuation down from as much as USD$47bn at the beginning of 2019 to USD$2.9bn in March, according to a May report by CNBC.

Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced many people to work from home, Claure said that companies have been leasing spaces from WeWork to serve as satellite offices close to where employees live.

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