Danone-backed startup Ready, Set, Food! raises $3.5m in funding to accelerate early allergen introduction mission

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Photo Credit: Ready, Set, Food!
Photo Credit: Ready, Set, Food!

Related tags Food for kids early allergen introduction Danone

Ready, Set, Food! has raised $3.5m in new funding to build brand awareness for its three-stage allergen introduction system, which begins by introducing babies (starting at 4 months of age) to peanut, egg, and milk.

The latest funding round was led by new investor, Edward-Elmhurst Health, with support from returning investors Danone Manifesto Ventures, investor and entrepreneur Mark Cuban, and AF Ventures (formerly AccelFoods).

"As a healthcare provider, we see the need for support and education regarding food allergies as paramount. We are seeing allergies reach their highest levels yet nationwide, especially among children and we see the devastating downstream effects that severe allergies can have on families in our communities,"​ said Mel Cohen, managing director of Edward-Elmhurst Health Venture Capital.

"We chose to invest with Ready, Set, Food! to support their innovative, tangible three stage system that helps families navigate and safely, easily, and effectively introduce allergens."

The US published its early allergen introduction guidelines as part of the USDA 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines​, ​which includes a section on introducing infants to potentially allergenic foods, including peanuts. The USDA also recommended that for infants at high risk of peanut allergy (i.e. infants that have severe eczema, egg allergy, or both) to introduce age-appropriate, peanut-containing foods as early as 4- to 6-month-olds.

However, even with these guidelines in place and several leading health organizations including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI) all recommending introducing allergenic foods such as peanut early, there is a real need to educate parents on the benefits of early allergen introduction, says Ready, Set, Food!

"With one in every twelve babies developing a food allergy each year, the investors' steadfast support ensures that Ready, Set, Food! can accelerate its efforts in the area of early food allergen introduction," ​said CEO and co-founder Daniel Zakowski.

Three-part system

Ready, Set, Food! aims to make the process of introducing babies to allergens less complicated and stress-inducing with its easy-to-follow three-part system.

The company's patented system, which follows the results of clinical studies, has been used by more than 20,000 families.

Ready, Set, Food! was developed by parents including Daniel Zakowski, mom and allergist, Dr. Katie Marks-Cogan, and Dr. Andrew Leitner following their own first-hand experiences with their own kids' childhood food allergies.

Ready, Set, Food! offers parents a complete three-part early allergen introduction system to safely incorporate the top nine allergens - peanut, egg, milk, cashew, almond, walnut, sesame, soy and wheat - into their child's diet beginning as early as 4-months-old and ending when they reach 7- to 12-months of age, when most babies are consistently eating solid foods. 

The company launched its Stage 3 last month, which offers continued exposure to peanut, egg, and milk, while introducing the other top six allergens: cashew, almond, walnut, sesame, soy and wheat.

Each stage is pre-measured in easy-to-use packets featuring organic powdered ingredients without any added sugar or additives, which parents can mix into breastmilk, formula, or food (depending on the stage) until their baby is regularly eating these foods over an extended period of time. 

Building marketing efforts

With the news of the announcement, Ready, Set, Food! has brought on Adam Rockmore, who has prior brand-building experience at Food Network, Calphalon, and Godiva, as its chief marketing and strategy officer responsible for the strategy, planning, and development of all company initiatives to deliver it system to more families. 

Available online through the company's website, Ready, Set, Food! will work to expand its product line and build up partnerships with more healthcare providers to introduce the system to more parents.

"We are excited to continue supporting the important work underway at Ready, Set, Food! to help provide a life of food freedom for all children," ​said Holly Jackson, ventures director of Danone Manifesto Ventures.

"We look forward to continuing to work with their team as they take additional steps to advance their mission, including the launch of new products, on-the-ground healthcare partner work, donation programs and more."

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