Banking & Finance, Food Service & Agriculture, and Small Business & Startups

Startup raises $10M in funding

August 25, 2014
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Bio-pesticide startup catches EPA approval
Kalamazoo-based Vestaron Corporation develops bio-pesticides for the agriculture industry. Photo via

A startup planning to introduce a new "environmentally friendly" bio-pesticide to the marketplace next year has closed a $10 million Series C round of preferred stock financing.

New investor

Vestaron Corporation in Kalamazoo said last week that the round was led by new investor Cultivian Sandbox Ventures, a Chicago-based venture fund that focuses on new and emerging technologies in the agriculture and food industry.

The financing round included several current investors: Southwest Michigan First Life Science Venture Fund, Open Prairie Ventures, Pangaea Ventures and Michigan Accelerator Fund.

John Sorenson, chief executive officer of Vestaron, said Cultivian’s experience in the industry will help the startup introduce its products to the $20 billion global insecticide market.

“Their expertise in the agricultural arena will be a great addition to our board of directors, and their experience in bringing agricultural products to market will be of tremendous help as we commercialize our first product, a biological insecticide,” Sorenson said.

Ron Meeusen, managing director of Cultivian Sandbox, said the investment in Vestaron is a result of following the startup’s technical progress over the past two years.

“This is clearly the right time for Cultivian Sandbox to invest in the company,” Meeusen said. “The commercialization of their first product is exciting indeed.”

Keith Gillard, chairman of the board at Vestaron and general partner at Pangaea Ventures, said Cultivian Sandbox is a good fit for Vestaron and their input during the commercialization process will provide tremendous value.

“They’ve come along at the perfect time as we move from a research and development company to a commercial company,” Gillard said.

Other partners

Vestaron has partnered with multiple other venture capital firms, private equity firms and organizations since its establishment in 2005: Michigan Economic Development Corp., Southwest Michigan Innovation Center, Grand Angels, Biosciences Research & Commercialization Center and Capital Community Angel Investors.

EPA approval

Vestaron received approval by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in February to introduce its biological insecticide to the commercial market.

The approval of the active ingredient found in spiders has enabled the company to conduct pre-commercial demonstration trials this year, with the hope of a full commercial launch in the beginning of 2015.

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