This week, Bob Iger, the Executive Chairman of The Walt Disney Company, filled the first founder-designated board seat at Silicon Valley-based startup Perfect Day. Founded in 2014 by entrepreneurs Ryan Pandya and Perumal Gandhi, the startup is establishing a new category, Animal-Free Dairy, with its innovative technology which involves inserting a cow’s DNA sequence as a blueprint into yeast-based microflora—tiny living organisms used to make everyday items such as vitamins and probiotics. The flora then takes the place of a cow and undergoes an acellular (without animal cells) fermentation process producing an abundance of proteins that can be used as a base for “flora-based” products that are indistinguishable from dairy foods such as milk, cheese, and ice cream.
“Innovation and leadership are both key to world changing ideas,” Iger said. “Perfect Day has established both innovation in its use of technology and novel approach to fighting climate change, and clear leadership in building a category with a multi-year head start in the industry they’re helping to build. I’m thrilled to join at this pivotal moment and support the company’s swift growth into new categories and markets.”
Perfect Day proved its concept with a limited-time launch of ice cream pints in 2019—which, despite their hefty $20+ per pint price tag, sold out in less than 24 hours. The company is capable of making its own consumer-facing products but is working to scale its flora base to make it available to companies already producing traditional dairy products. This May, Perfect Day landed its first commercial business partner, artisan ice cream chain Smitten Ice Cream. Perfect Day also created The Urgent Company, which launched its first ice cream line, Brave Robot, in eight flavors in July using the startup’s flora base.
In July, Perfect Day announced an expansion of its Series C funding round to $300 million—building on the company’s initial $140 million Series C round that it completed last year. With more than $360 million in funding to date, Perfect Day is now the most-funded company in the growing microbial fermentation industry.
Iger will lend his expertise in business leadership during a pivotal time for Perfect Day as it accelerates its mission to replace traditional dairy with animal-free proteins. “We’re thrilled to have Bob Iger join our team, and are confident his tenured operational expertise and visionary leadership style will further help us scale our ambitions,” Pandya said. “We’re focused on rapid commercialization in the United States and globally. But we know we can’t do it alone. That’s why we’re excited and humbled to have a proven leader like Bob to help us thoughtfully transform our purpose-driven aspirations into tangible and sustainable impact.”