Fast-growing San Francisco food business, Don Bugito, purveyor of planet-friendly protein snacks, is the latest high-growth small business to join the ICA investment portfolio. Founded by Monica Martinez, Don Bugito produces edible insect snacks inspired by Pre-Columbian Mexican cuisine.
ICA just closed a $200K investment in Don Bugito, as part of its mission to accelerate great businesses to close the racial and gender wealth gaps.
Don Bugito was born in 2010 after Monica Martinez, an industrial designer by training, saw an opportunity to address the growing demand for sustainable protein while celebrating her cultural heritage. Her company champions the use of "bugitos" like crickets and mealworms, combined with traditional spices found in Native American and Mexican cuisine. Today, Don Bugito's product line includes Chile Lime Crickets, Spicy Bugitos, Granola Bites powered with insect protein powder, and even baking flour made of insects.
"ICA will offer Don Bugito the required fuel to propel us to the next stage. With this investment we will be able to grow our team, expand our farm operations, and increase our sales nationally," said Don Bugito founder, Monica Martinez. "2020 has been a hard year for everyone but we are thrilled to end the year with ICA's investment, and we are looking forward to growing and expanding in 2021," she added.
ICA's investment is part of the San Francisco Entrepreneurs of Color Fund (EOCF), a collaborative investment fund that partners with local Community Development Financial Institutions to deploy capital to entrepreneurs of color, with an emphasis on underinvested Latinx- and Black-owned businesses. Don Bugito joins Red Bay Coffee and Onigilly, as EOCF-funded ICA investments. EOCF is supported by JPMorgan Chase, which provided a $3.1 million philanthropic investment to expand the EOCF model to San Francisco in 2018 and help local underserved entrepreneurs access to the capital they need to grow.
If Monica looks familiar, that's because she pitched at ICA's 2020 Pitch Event after completing the Accelerator at ICA. Before working with ICA, she participated in La Cocina's food incubator program in San Francisco, and worked with Kitchentown, a Bay Area commissary kitchen that helps food entrepreneurs scale their products.
"ICA is thrilled to invest in founder and super-entrepreneur Monica Martinez with $200,000 of patient capital to fund Don Bugito's ongoing development and expansion," said ICA's chief investment officer, John Gough. "When they receive the capital and coaching they need, small businesses like Monica's add new good jobs and create wealth for their owners and workers," he added.
ICA's investment will allow Don Bugito to expand its farming operations and, eventually, to meet Monica's goal of complete vertical integration across the entire product portfolio. Under Monica's leadership Don Bugito was a first-mover in the fast-growing insect protein market. Vertical integration is the next step for Don Bugito, allowing the company to scale, while eliminating waste. The insect market is expanding rapidly due in large part to the sustainability of cultivating insect which can be grown with limited natural resources and a relatively small environmental footprint,
Don Bugito's snacks are healthy, too: the insects are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, non-GMO, grain, oil and cholesterol-free, and have great taste and texture.
Don Bugito is on track to double its workforce in 2021 and currently employs a team that is majority people of color. Monica is committed to creating wealth-building opportunities in parallel with the company's growth.
"ICA's investment in Monica demonstrates our strategy to support under-capitalized entrepreneurs poised for growth," said John Gough. "As we raise a new investment fund, we're looking forward to continued growth for ICA and our portfolio of companies."