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How This Startup Raised a $1.7 Million Seed Round on Chicken-Less Eggs Clara Foods figured out how to pitch a unique product without making investors balk. Read on to learn how they did it.

By Andrew Rosenblum

This story appears in the April 2016 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Eggless egg whites sound like another vegan treat, but San Francisco-based startup Clara Foods is shooting for omnivores. It inserts genes for egg whites into yeast, which then ferments in tanks, like beer, and creates a product that is genetically egg but never involved a chicken. Clara cofounder and CEO Arturo Elizondo thinks that will appeal particularly to those who want to eat eggs but avoid the messy egg industry: Last year's avian flu outbreak, for example, cost the economy $3.3 billion and resulted in the disposal of more than 45 million U.S. hens. Yeast, meanwhile, is drama-free.

Chicken-less egg whites -- you must have developed quite the elevator speech.

We thought one pitch would work for everybody. Just not using a chicken was so revolutionary -- we thought that would be enough. But different investors were interested in different things. Some were true foodies. They asked, "You can create fluffier meringues?" Others were focused on sustainability: They really wanted to do something for the world and the environment.

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