TechCrunch+ roundup: Cell-cultured meat, alternative financing, avoiding tech debt

You don’t need to be a scientist to understand the impacts of factory farming: if you’ve been near a North Carolina hog waste lagoon or driven past the enormous cattle feedlot in Coalinga, CA, the smell travels for miles.

In exchange for affordability and convenience, consumers, regulators and meat producers have learned to live with the many downsides of raising animals for food at scale: Greenhouse gases, water pollution, unsafe working conditions, and inhumane practices, just for starters.

But a United Nations report estimates that we’ll need to double global food production by 2050 to meet the needs of 10 billion people.

Rising demand for meat is driven in part by the rise of a global middle class. It turns out that the people who have the most buying power are also fans of cheeseburgers, and with consumption and population growth steadily increasing, one might even say meat is eating the world.

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In a deeply researched report for TechCrunch+, reporter Christine Hall examined the state of the cell-cultured meat industry and identified many of the startups innovating in the sector, along with the challenges they face when it comes to ramping up production and getting regulators and consumers on their side.

“It is still small-scale, and the most important thing we are doing that other companies should do is focus on the design, engineering and full-scale installations of vessels and the supporting systems to make a lot of it,” said Josh Tetrick, co-founder and CEO of Eat Just, which sells lab-grown chicken meat in Singapore.

Friederike Grosse-Holz, a director at impact investment firm Blue Horizon, said lab-grown meat is “a little like a moonshot,” but predicts that 11% of the seafood, meat, eggs and dairy consumed globally in 2035 will come from alternative sources.

“We are far from clear in knowing which technology will be the best,” she said. “So it is good there are so many players and a space for them.”

Thanks very much for reading,

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch+

Use alternative financing to fuel VC-level growth without diluting ownership

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Investors are hungry for startups to throw their money at, but VC funding isn’t always the right option at all times or for every startup.

Alternative financing options such as revenue financing or expense financing are often overshadowed by the VC model, but they can be just as, and sometimes more, useful for SaaS startups, writes Miguel Fernandez, CEO and co-founder of Capchase.

In an in-depth post, Fernandez explains alternative financing for startups, and how to tell which option is right for you.

Startup accelerators’ definition of ‘value add’ is due for a refresh

Plus sign and increasing arrow print screen on wooden cube block on blue background which it mean positive sign such as more benefit thinking and mindset concept. (Plus sign and increasing arrow print screen on wooden cube block on blue background whi

Image Credits: Dilok Klaisataporn (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

One of the most notable trends in tech that has emerged during the pandemic is the steady commoditization of capital.

As founders find themselves fielding ample investor interest, accelerators are changing how they invest, what they offer to their cohorts, and how they maximize value and attract top talent, reports Natasha Mascarenhas.

“As capital gets further commoditized, early-stage investors are going back to the drawing board to see what is truly — and excuse my language here — a value-add service.”

Don’t trust averages: How to assess and strengthen the health of your business

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Startups grow fast, and when you’re building one, it can be easy to lose track of what’s working — and what’s not.

One way to track how well your business is doing is to look at the big-picture numbers, but Karen Peacock, CEO of Intercom, has a warning: averages can be dangerously misleading.

“If Jeff Bezos walks into a bar with 100 people, suddenly, on average, the net worth of each individual in that bar is over a billion dollars. Is that useful? Would that lead you to take the right actions? No — averages hide true insights.”

Peacock explains how founders can assess where their business’ strengths lie, and where they need to work harder, including how to gauge revenue health and using customer segmentation to find “leaks in the bucket.”

Here’s how startups can prevent tech debt from piling up

Sink Full of Dirty Dishes

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Focusing on going to market, introducing new features and customizing your product to help land a major client are all proven tactics for driving growth.

But companies that go on building sprees without a clear product roadmap in hand usually end up with a ton of technical debt, writes Sowmyanarayan Raghunathan, VP of Engineering at Talentica Software.

To minimize tech debt, Raghunathan posits four rules for engineering teams:

  • Don’t let specific implementations continue for over three months
  • Do an architecture review of the product every 18-24 months
  • Upgrade to new open source versions two months after launch
  • Understand the product and identify NFRs in advance

With more data available than ever, are companies making smarter decisions?

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Image Credits: z_wei / Getty Images

For many companies, data is their greatest asset and at the same time, their largest problem.

In a follow-up to a 2014 post about the rise of Big Data, enterprise reporter Ron Miller looks back at the intervening seven years and found that infrastructure, technology and data analysis tools “have all improved dramatically, but it’s by no means a problem solved.”

3 views on CES 2022

An attendee wears a face mask while taking a selfie in front of the Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas sign on the show floor during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) on January 6, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. - The CES tech show threw open its doors Wednesday in Las Vegas despite surging Covid-19 cases in the United States, as one of the world's largest trade fairs tried to get back to business. Despite some obvious gaps on the showfloor -- after high-profile companies like Amazon and Google cancelled over climbing virus risk -- crowds of badge-wearing tech entrepreneurs, reporters and aficionados poured through venues. (Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

Image Credits: PATRICK T. FALLON (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

If an event only attracts 25% of its usual crowd, for whom is it essential?

After covering CES 2022 from multiple angles for several years, TechCrunch Transportation Editor Kirsten Korosec, Hardware Editor Brian Heater and reporter Haje Jan Kamps shared their thoughts on how the pandemic has changed the event, and what this means for hardware companies:

  • Kristin Korosec: CES hasn’t lost its automotive luster
  • Brian Heater: Hardware startups should reconsider their media strategies
  • Haje Jan Kamps: I missed it sorely this year