Vegan technology startup Simulate recently raised $4.1 million with the help of new investors, including former Whole Foods chief executive Walter Robb, model Jasmine Tookes, and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian—who recently stepped down from Reddit’s Board of Directors to make room for hiring a Black executive. Previously, Simulate operated under its flagship product name “NUGGS” and produced a vegan, pea protein-based chicken nugget—the formula for which was constantly refined based on consumer feedback, similar to how software systems release iterations. Currently, NUGGS is in its 2.0 iteration after updates such as removing vital wheat gluten, creating a crunchier coating, and decreasing sodium content were implemented.
Since launch, Simulate has sold one million pounds of NUGGS. “We have seen this core community of people obsessively purchasing the new versions,” Simulate Founder Ben Pasternak told TechCrunch. “We are looking at launching some kind of beta testing subscription thing shortly.”
At 15 years old, Pasternak became the youngest entrepreneur to receive investment capital from Silicon Valley venture capitalists for his app Monkey, a youth-centered friend-making app. After Monkey was acquired in 2017, Pasternak founded NUGGS when he was 19 years old with the mission of tackling factory farming. With the new investment—building on a celebrity-backed $7 million investment round last year—the company has rebranded in order to develop new product lines outside of the vegan chicken nugget space, including DOGGS (a vegan hot dog) and a chicken burger product. The brand is also working on a spicy version of its core NUGGS product.
Simulate is also planning a retail debut this month with the launch of NUGGS at approximately 30 Gelson’s supermarkets in California.