Introducing MUU, a Thai-based developer of animal-free dairy products created with precision-fermentation technology, who just graduated from Brinc’s Summer 2023 AgriFood program.
MUU was launched in mid-2021 after CEO Chanapol Tantakosol, formerly a process engineer, realized his true passion: to leverage technology to make the world a better place. After learning more about the pressing issues of food security and sustainability, as well as the significant impact of industrial animal farming, he began exploring plant-based alternatives. “The urgency of these global issues struck a serious deep chord, motivating me to become a catalyst for change,” Tantaksol explains. “It also became clear that for alternative food products to achieve mass adoption, taste couldn’t be compromised. So the idea for MUU was born.”
The startup’s goal, to “make cow’s milk without cows,” was achieved through the use of precision fermentation to produce proteins that give dairy products their distinct properties and flavor. MUU’s mission is both pragmatic and holistic, as its website states: “If eating makes us all happy, true happiness would be knowing that what we eat has no harm to our beloved planet, animals and our health.”
We take this moment to have a quick post-program chat with Tantakosol:
1. As a fresh graduate of Brinc’s Summer 2023 AgriFood program, what was the key takeaway from this experience?
CT: One of our most valuable takeaways has been the opportunity to connect with seasoned mentors, who provided invaluable insights and guidance. The program’s extensive curriculum, including classes and workshops, allowed us to refine and update our knowledge, ensuring we stay at the forefront of our industry. Additionally, we met with investors who could potentially participate in our next round. I must also commend the exceptional support from the Brinc team and their tech advisors, who have played a pivotal role in helping us refine our business strategy and provided tech-development guidelines. Brinc doesn’t just accelerate your startup; it lays a solid foundation for sustainable growth. This program has undoubtedly equipped us with the tools and networks needed to propel MUU to new heights.
2. Tell us about the connections you made within the Brinc network…
CT: Throughout our journey in the program, we were fortunate to establish a wide array of connections with speakers, mentors, fellow startup founders, and investors. Our interactions with this diverse network offered us multifaceted perspectives and a support system that significantly contributed to our growth during the program. Whether it was learning from 10 experienced mentors, collaborating with fellow founders, or receiving guidance from investors, every connection has played a pivotal role in helping us improve and advance our startup in different ways. The strength of the Brinc network lies in its diversity, and we are deeply grateful for the support and opportunities it has offered.
3. Looking ahead, post-program, what are some key targets or goals you’d like to reach by early 2024?
CT: As we move forward post-program, our primary objectives for next year are centred around scaling up and ensuring the sustainable growth of MUU. One of our key targets is to advance to pilot plant production, which will allow us to assess our production processes in a large-scale environment. Simultaneously, we are planning to initiate our next round of funding, which we plan to start at end-2023. The funds raised in this round will be instrumental in supporting our scaling efforts, optimizing our production processes, and navigating the regulatory approval process.
4. How has being from/based in Thailand supported the growth of MUU?
CT: Being based in Thailand has been instrumental in fostering the growth of MUU in several ways. Thailand, as a prominent food-producing nation, boasts a robust ecosystem and infrastructure within the food industry. During our early stages, we received significant support from both Thai government agencies and private sectors, including participation in early-stage accelerator programs. Furthermore, as we are transitioning into the production phase, Thailand’s cost-effective skilled labor and raw materials will play a pivotal role in optimizing processes and driving down costs. This strategic location has undoubtedly been a cornerstone in our journey towards creating a sustainable food future.
5. Tell us about the growth opportunities for animal-free dairy products in the Asia market…
CT: The growth opportunities for animal-free dairy products in the Asian market are truly promising, driven by several key factors. Firstly, a significant majority of the Asian population is lactose intolerant, creating a substantial demand for lactose-free dairy alternatives. There’s also a growing trend among Asian consumers towards seeking healthier and more sustainable food options. Our products align perfectly with this trend, as they are not only lactose-free but also free from hormones, antibiotics, cholesterol, and are better for the environment. Parallel to this is the issue of milk supply shortage in certain Southeast Asian countries. Our products can play a vital role in filling this gap. With these factors combined, there’s substantial room for growth in the Asian market for animal-free dairy products, and we are excited to be at the forefront of this transformative and sustainable food movement.
6. In a post-pandemic world, are global consumers making more conscious choices overall around health, wellness, and environmental sustainability?
CT: Absolutely, the pandemic served as a reminder of the importance of maintaining good health, and this increased awareness has translated into a greater focus on making healthier food choices. Simultaneously, the ongoing global concerns about climate change and environmental degradation have underlined the need for more sustainable lifestyles. This dual focus on health and sustainability aligns well with our products, which not only contribute to individual wellbeing but also have a positive environmental impact, making them a compelling choice for today’s consumers in this ever-evolving landscape.
Follow MUU’s latest updates here.
For more information about Brinc’s AgriFood accelerator and how to apply, please visit our website.