Grounded breaks into international markets via Seeds of Change Accelerator

From a restaurant in Victoria to operating in the big smoke of New York, Grounded simply cannot believe how fast their business has grown worldwide. In 2019, the company was chosen as one of six Australian-based start-ups in the Seeds of Change Accelerator, a partnership with Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL) and MARS Food Australia, to fast-track the growth of innovative food-focused businesses.

Veronica Fil and partner Shaun Quade, are the duo behind Grounded who produce plant-based cheeses that look, taste and feel just like the real thing. The impressive product is made from cauliflower and hemp seeds. They have found already that supply and demand is unbalanced, and consumers are frustrated because Grounded isn’t able to supply them immediately. A challenge most manufacturers dream of, especially in the start-up stage.

The duo first owned a fine dining restaurant in Melbourne and looked to take the concept overseas. While they were in this process, they discovered that their house-made vegan cheese was always the star of the show. After creating the product, they were quickly approached by heavy hitters in the hospitality and supermarket industries looking for supply, as well as large investors. Knowing they were on the right track, Fil and Quade decided to grow the business themselves. “I’ve had no shortage of investment offers however, it was the skills and understanding of what we needed to get the business going that we were really looking for,” said Fil.

“After receiving interest from investors, we decided we didn’t want to make a terrible mistake of losing equity. As a result, it was suggested we apply for the Seeds of Change Accelerator. We weren’t looking for investors but rather the specialist knowledge and mentors in manufacturing, scale-up and IP management. Going into the Accelerator was an absolute game-changer for us. If we hadn’t been in that we would have been left with barely anything. It’s changed our entire lives and we’ve had a fantastic time from it.”

“Five weeks into the Accelerator program, I met a Venture Capitalist from New York who runs a plant-based food fund. He said ‘call me tomorrow, I think we can help’. Two weeks later, we were in New York with a $300,000 investment behind us, preparing to commercialise our products,” said Fil.

FIAL’s Dr. Barry McGookin said, “Grounded were selected to undertake a tailored four-month program to help tackle their challenges and were supported with a grant. The Accelerator program included face-to-face workshops and access to a panel of expert mentors.”

“At FIAL, one of our main objectives is to help firms build their capabilities so they can grow the share of Australian food in the global marketplace. This expanded capacity is evident with Grounded, who are looking to manufacture in California and Victoria.”

Grounded are still reeling from the speed of the success of the program. Fil said, “It struck me partway through the program we had landed the biggest opportunity of our lives. For us, money had nothing to do with it. It was the brain’s trust and having that knowledge and backing.”

New packaging player enters market

Ben Grant and Josh Kempton are leading the charge in New Zealand with their compostable flexible packaging business, Grounded , in their efforts to win the war on plastic waste.

Having recently launched, Grounded is celebrating its new-found growth, following a successful pilot program with NZ-based organic chicken company, Bostock Brothers, along with a handful of businesses in Australia.

Grounded is one of the few companies in the region to offer a range of compostable  packaging options made from from bio-based materials, promising no compromise  quality, or the environment.

Grounded has a complete suite of compostable, flexible packaging solutions suitable for use across numerous industries and applications, including; food production  processing, fresh produce, snack foods, apparel, retail and consumer goods.

All the packaging is bio-based and certified to European or OK Compost compostability
standards for both home and industrial composting, with its look, feel and functional properties designed to mirror that of their non-compostable counterparts.

Better yet, the range is fully customisable, and includes popular and widely functional items such as stand-up pouches, snack wrappers and produce bags in various finishes, which are all fully compostable and readily branded to customer specifications.

In addition to offering custom manufacture and printing for established businesses, Grounded is about to launch a range of 100 per cent compostable stand-up pouches that will be available in smaller quantities in order to help provide a solution for a part of the market that is currently poorly served.

Quickly identifying an opportunity for flexible solutions for small companies, Grounded has already started manufacturing its own range of compostable packaging, tailored to startups and small businesses requiring more modest packaging orders.

“My co-founder, Josh brings an immense wealth of packaging industry experience, and together we are educating small, medium and large-sized businesses on smart solutions that benefit both the company and the customer as they transition to plastic-free. At the end of the day, you can’t put a price on the planet, and a positive reputation,” said Grant.

“In my experience co-owning a multi-million dollar restaurant chain (Bird on a Wire) for a number of years, you become acutely aware of the size and scale of the wake you leave throughout all parts of the supply chain. As a result, we became the first business in New Zealand to go fully compostable.”

“It was this simple transition which inspired me to create a business which has the size and
scale to support thousands of companies across Australasia in their efforts to implement circular economic processes and ultimately, help clean up our oceans.”

Grant said Grounded’s vision is for Australasia to gradually replace the use of single-use plastics throughout the supply chain of commercial production and retail environments for good.

“Whether the motivation is business, or customer demand, replacing soft plastics with
compostable flexible packaging is the future, and our team of specialists are proud to be leading by example in this market and supporting companies through the process,” he said.