Omnivore Farm Logs | Why We Invested in altM

Omnivore
3 min readOct 12, 2023

This is the first investment from the Omnivore Agritech & Climate Sustainability Fund.

Cutting down carbon emissions is critical for a livable future on Earth. With the proven perils of climate change, there is a global push for large industries to scrutinize and minimize their carbon footprints. The global production sectors are responsible for 1/5th of carbon emissions worldwide, consuming 54% of the world’s energy sources. These sectors include apparel, electronics, automotive, FMCG, and packaging which spend about USD 500 billion on chemicals and materials. The challenges around climate change are formidable but not unsolvable. With great strides in life sciences combined with advances in AI, computing and automation, we are primed for a new wave of innovation. As per a recent McKinsey report, 60 percent of the physical inputs to the global economy can be produced biologically without extracting virgin resources from the earth.

What exactly is altM offering?

altM aims to develop and manufacture scalable biomaterials to help large industries reduce their carbon footprints across their supply chains. The startup uses lignocellulosic agricultural residues as their raw material to produce advanced materials as alternatives to unsustainable incumbents. Given its sustainability potential and functional properties, lignocellulosic biomass offers a unique technological appeal to form a family of materials.

How effective is altM’s approach?

Based out of Bengaluru, altM was founded in 2022 to build a sustainable and circular economy. Focusing on manufacturability and scalability across the supply chain, R&D, manufacturing, and sales, altM is setting up targeted partnerships across different value chains to help its brand partners create low-carbon footprint product lines. It aims to build upon its lignocellulosic biomass platform to become a materials supplier that competes on performance and cost with historical product formulations and specifications at scale. With this approach, it drives down the demand for virgin and unsustainable materials and validates its biorefinery model with sustainable business metrics.

What about altM was compelling for Omnivore?

The growing demand for sustainable and eco-friendly solutions has led to increased interest in finding alternative uses for agricultural waste. Agricultural waste includes crop residues, straw, husks, shells, and stalks. Instead of burdening farmers and eventually the environment, these materials can now be harnessed as a primary industrial-grade commodity to create valuable biomaterials with various applications.

altM’s work with lignocellulosic biomass presents a robust alternative to petrochemicals. While petrochemicals have dominated the materials industry, the increasing interest and scientific progress in lignocellulosic biomass offers a pathway to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels, mitigate climate change, and promote renewable and environmentally friendly materials.

Furthermore, the scale-up of a technology from a laboratory bench to commercial production is not a trivial undertaking. Production scale-up is often the death valley for biotech startups. However, with founders Apoorv and Yugal’s background in manufacturing excellence, altM is poised to hasten the global shift towards sustainability and circularity.

The two met while working at Tesla in the US. Before altM, Apoorv served in supply chain and engineering leadership roles at Prometheus Fuels, Tesla, and Maruti Suzuki. Yugal worked at Tesla in engineering leadership roles, managing several factory and product launches. The team also includes Dr. Harshad Velankar with over 20 years of academic and industrial experience across India, the US, and South Africa. He previously led bioprocess research at HPCL, with prior stints at Praj Industries and Reliance Life Sciences.

What’s next for altM?

Alongside strengthening its product pipeline, altM plans to develop strategic partnerships with materials research institutes in India and Europe. Further, the startup also aims to refine its preparations for setting up production for next year and continue to onboard high-quality firepower in its team.

altM is Omnivore’s first investment from its third fund, which recently had a first close at USD 150 million. This is also the firm’s fourth investment under its OmniX Bio initiative set up in 2021 to back early-stage agrifood life science startups. Omnivore’s mission is to make Indian agriculture and food systems more profitable, sustainable, resilient, and climate-proof. While we are active investors in digital platforms and tech-enabled marketplaces, we believe some of the most important innovations for Indian farmers will come from the agrifood life sciences (ALFS) ecosystem. We are thrilled to welcome altM to our portfolio and support the startup’s bold vision for a more sustainable and circular economy.

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Omnivore

Omnivore is a venture capital firm, based in India, which funds entrepreneurs building the future of agriculture and food systems.