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Lab Meat is Still Far Away

Why one of the biggest startups cultivating meat shut down.

Hey — It’s Nico.

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This Week In Startups

🔗 Resources

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Tips on hiring great talent for early-stage startups.

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📰 News

Rippling bans former employees from its stock sale options.

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Collaborative Fund raises $125M  to invest in climate, health and food.

Day One Ventures raises $150M to back early-stage tech founders.

Calm Company Fund is taking a break.

💸 Fundraising

Mistral AI raises €600M in a funding round led by General Catalyst.

Fizz secures $14M for credit-building debit card aimed at Gen Z college students.

Browserbase raises $6.5M to help LLMs automate web tasks.

Eyebot raises $6M for AI-powered vision exam kiosks.


Cultivated Meat

This week, the startup SciFi Foods, known for its cultivated beef, announced it is shutting down.

Why It Matters:

  • SciFi Foods was a major player in the cultivated meat industry.

  • Studies suggest that cultivated meat can reduce carbon emissions by up to 92% compared to conventional meat.

  • In 2022, they achieved price parity with traditional beef.

  • This reflects a larger trend in the industry, with many startups facing challenges in developing cultivated beef technology.

What Was SciFi Foods:

SciFi Foods specialized in making hybrid meat. Their hybrid meat had a 90% soy protein base and 10% cultivated beef. The soy component ensured the meat had a reduced carbon footprint, while the cultivated beef made it tastier and much closer in flavor to traditional meat.

Mixing cultivated beef with soy protein also helped make the meat much cheaper than using just cultivated beef. This is what allowed them to achieve price parity in 2022.

The Numbers:

Reasons For Failure:

  • New Industry: The cultured meat industry is quite new, bringing a whole set of challenges to startups. SciFi Foods had to handle everything themselves, from researching technology to building production lines for mass production. Every step had to be done in-house because there are no established companies to outsource parts of the process to.

  • Regulations: Governments are still unsure about cultured meat. Last year, Italy banned its production. In the US, Florida and Alabama have completely banned cultured meat, and states like Texas and Washington have regulated the use of the term "meat" on packaging. Additionally, startups need FDA approval, which can be a long and complicated process. SciFi Foods was in the middle of this process before shutting down.

  • Decline in Investment: The cultured meat industry (also known as the alternative protein industry) is facing tough times. After massive investments in 2021 and 2022, there was a sharp 78% decline last year. This has affected many players in the industry:

Win or Fail?

Apple Intelligence

This Monday, Apple unveiled Apple Intelligence, the new ecosystem-wide generative AI. Here are some of its main features:

  • Writing Tools: The AI will proofread your text anywhere you write it.

  • Priority Notifications: The AI will analyze each notification and prioritize those it considers most important.

  • Smart Reply: The AI will generate email replies.

  • Image Creation: You can ask the AI to generate images from text.

  • Genmoji: Create custom emojis from text.

  • Better Image Search: Ask the AI to find photos based on specific characteristics, such as people in them or their clothing.

  • Improved Siri: Siri receives an update, making it closer to GPT's multimodal models.

For every excited Apple fan out there, there are also many skeptics claiming that Apple Intelligence is still far from GPT and that most of these features are not very useful. So…

Are you excited about Apple Intelligence?

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Dogfooding is when a company uses its own products or services.

It is not the same as having a dedicated testing or QA team. To dogfood effectively, a company needs to foster a culture where every team member regularly uses the product. It's not just about testing; it's about using the product in the same way and for the same purposes as a typical user.

Let's explore some examples of companies that excel at dogfooding:


  • Duolingo encourages all employees to download and use the app daily. Currently, 70% of the company actively dogfoods.

  • They conduct Language Challenges twice a year to incentivize employee app usage.

  • Employees are required to download the latest unreleased versions of the app, providing valuable insights before the official release.

  • This practice generates significant data for QA and engineering teams, helping them identify bugs and crashes in the latest builds.


  • Beehiiv, the newsletter platform, has a unique onboarding process. New hires must create and send their own newsletter to the entire company within their first week.

  • Many employees continue using and improving their newsletters, becoming regular users of the platform.

  • Team Leads are mandated to use Beehiiv for monthly updates via newsletters.

  • This ensures diverse and regular usage of the platform, offering valuable feedback to the engineering team.


  • Lyft requires all employees, including managers, to spend a minimum of 4 hours every three months driving as a Lyft driver.

  • The goal is to familiarize every employee with the driver experience and identify areas for improvement.

  • Even the founders participate; co-founder John Zimmer is pictured here with three passengers.

How to Apply It:

  • Integrate the product into the daily lives of the employees. This will be easier if the product can be used in their work. If the product is not work-related, you could use different strategies like Duolingo’s Language Challenges.

  • Establish a simple and accessible method for employees to provide feedback on their product experiences. Ensure all feedback is captured and analyzed systematically.

  • Encourage new team members to use the product actively. Fresh perspectives can uncover bugs or usability issues that long-time users might overlook.

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