Fortuna Cools, a Philippine startup seeking to find an alternative to plastics, has secured a seed investment round led by ADB Ventures, the impact investment arm of Asian Development Bank, and Katapult Ocean Fund.
Pasudeco Development Corporation, the Manila Angel Investors Network, she1k, and Nardo Holdings, also joined the round.
The financial terms were not disclosed.
Fortuna Cools will use the capital to grow its sales and engineering teams, as well as finance its higher production volumes to reduce unit costs and benefit more farmers, co-founder and CEO David Cutler told e27.
Started in 2018 by Cutler and Tamara Mekler, Fortuna Cools began working on “up-cycled, high-performance” coolers in the archipelago, alongside small-scale agricultural communities and the NGO ‘Rare‘. These coolers were designed to help fishermen preserve their catch without relying on fragile Styrofoam boxes.
According to Cutler, Fortuna Cools was soon inundated with requests for sustainable, long-lasting coolers from different sectors and locations.
“We are commercialising coolers. Our first product, the Fortuna Coconut Cooler, is available today in the Philippines as a B2B product for fresh food packaging and the transport of perishable goods,” he shared. “It is marketed to major food distributors, farmer cooperatives, and grocery stores in Southeast Asia.
Cutler said the prices are already competitive with many existing insulated packaging options, with significant discounts available at higher volumes.
The startup will soon launch its second product, the Nutshell Cooler, as an eco-conscious consumer product in key international markets. It seeks to fill a glaring gap in an eco-conscious market without any eco-friendly options.
“The Nutshell Cooler is built with our same natural fibre insulation that we’ve developed over the past few years. But there are various differences in the design to make it suitable for outdoor recreation and casual use (e.g. trip to the beach, weekend getaway, even grocery shopping),” he explained.
A portion of the capital just raised will be go into the launching of Nutshell Cooler, he said.
“Material innovation is key to solving the plastic waste problem in our oceans,” said Ross Brooks, Investment Manager at Katapult Ocean. “Fortuna’s nature-based insulation solution not only aims to replace plastic foam, but in doing so will provide communities with a more robust and lower cost cold storage solution. Fortuna’s solution has the potential to create a positive impact in both environmental and social domains.”
“We hear the demand for less plastic waste among everyone from fish traders to sunbathers, while small-scale coconut farmers have no choice today but to burn their piles of leftover husks. We are proud that positive impact is built into every fibre we use,” Cutler said.
Image Credit: Fortuna Cools
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