citybiz+ Regenerative Organic Food Startup SIMPLi Gets Backing of Maryland Momentum Fund

SIMPLi Group, a Baltimore-based startup encouraging production of ethical and regenerative organic food, has closed on an undisclosed amount in funding from the University System of Maryland’s Momentum Fund and the Abell Foundation, a prior investor. The funding is via Simple Agreement for Future Equity.

An undisclosed seed round for SIMPLi in 2021 was led by the Abell Foundation. Seth Goldman, co-founder of Honest Tea and Eat the Change, also participated. The latest funding round comes after SIMPLi has battled the ravaging effects of Covid-19 and the Ukraine war on global supply chains.

“We founded SIMPLi with a simple mission: to create a food company dedicated to sustainable sourcing for a better world,” said co-founder Matthew Cohen, who serves as the startup’s chief financial officer. “We firmly believe that Regenerative Organic Certified foods have the potential to create true impact for farming communities, consumers, and the environment.”

SIMPLi was launched in the 2020 edition of the Ratcliffe Foundation Shore Hatchery Program, run by Salisbury University’s Perdue School of Business, where Cohen was a 2012 graduate. It received funding from Shore Hatchery and mentorship from Doug Wilson, a Shore Hatchery board member. The three-year-old startup is led by the other co-founder, Sarela Herrada, a Peruvian whose journey into the world of food began as an intern at Kraft Foods. Later, she has served as director of food and beverages at the Mediterranean food firm CAVA. She was instrumental in building and scaling the company’s award-winning brand to over 80 fast-casual restaurants and to Whole Foods Markets.

Herrada is counting on Regenerative Organic Certified, a new certification based on a collection of practices that focus on regenerating soil health and the full farm ecosystem, to propel SIMPLi. Among other things, the certification process evaluates climate change, potentially exploitative treatment of international farming communities, and fragmented and untraceable supply chains. SIMPLi aims to nudge farmers into embracing the practices as organic becomes a global trend led by large corporations such as Unilever and PepsiCo.

“We’re thrilled to support the SIMPLi team as they scale their business to become national leaders in the regenerative organic food category,” said Mike Ravenscroft, managing director of the Momentum Fund. “This investment will help the team respond to increasing demand from both retail and food service, allowing them to scale up with key hires.”

citybiz+ Sponsors

The Abell Foundation’s Director of Impact Investing Eileen O’Rourke said she has been “impressed by SIMPLIs’ ability to grow revenues, expand product offerings, serve national customers, and create new, high-quality jobs in Baltimore.  “We support SIMPLi’s core value of delivering high-quality products to customers while enriching local economies throughout their supply chain,” she said.

citybiz+ Cohorts

Advancing Baltimore
The Abell Foundation works for the long-term goal of advancing Baltimore’s growth. It makes philanthropic grants and direct investments in innovative startups that create jobs in the city. Currently, its portfolio of startups includes over 30 firms, including Armr, Crystalline Medical and Vita Therapeutics. Its recent investments include Marinalife, North American Wave Engine, ReGelTec, Spine Align and NextStep Robotics.

The Maryland Momentum Fund, an initiative of the University System of Maryland (USM), provides late seed investment funding for tech ventures emerging from its 12 constituent USM institutions. It operates out of a $16 million commitment from the USM. Its recent portfolio investments include Marinalife, Kaster and Linshom Management.