Cooks Venture of Decatur Adds CFO, $4M in Capital

Cooks Venture of Decatur Adds CFO, $4M in Capital
Cooks Venture is raising heirloom birds like these on farms developed by Lloyd Peterson years ago in Benton County.

Cooks Venture, the next-generation agriculture company building a breed of super chickens on the old Peterson Farms grounds in Decatur (Benton County), has announced a new $4 million round of capital investment and the hiring of a chief financial officer.

Ankur Agrawal, a former executive at SeatGeek, a mobile platform for buying and selling tickets to concerts and sporting events, is the new CFO. He was instrumental in an agreement with Golden West Food Group that assured the $4 million influx.

“Consumers are always looking for a wider variety of ethically sourced meats, and we like to be at the forefront of what's new and innovative in the market,” said Josh Solovy, president of Golden West, which describes itself as a premium manufacturer of food products noted for its nationally distributed line of Jack Daniel’s Ready-to-Eat meats. "We align with Cooks Venture's philosophy that better animal husbandry yields higher quality, great tasting and better for you foods. That’s why we invested in Cooks Venture and believe they, in a short time, will be a market leader for pasture-raised, heirloom and heritage-bred regenerative poultry."

Agrawal is joining an expanding concern. Fresh off the heels of raising $12 million in secured financing, Cooks Venture is working to advance the reach of regenerative farming nationwide. Agrawal “will apply his deep financial knowledge to lead the company’s sustainable growth, building new investor partnerships and establishing core processes,” a company news release said.

Cooks Venture, founded by Blue Apron co-founder Matthew Wadiak, is building regenerative agriculture systems by combining crop science, animal breeding and husbandry and long-term data monitoring. The company’s first offering is pasture-raised, slow-growth, heirloom chicken raised on the 800-acre farm in Decatur, which includes a hatchery and breeding facility.

“I have raised and bred animals for food for five decades and am painfully aware of industrial poultry production,” said Bill Niman, animal welfare expert. “Cooks Venture’s unique breed, the “Pioneer,” is the product of over a decade of research into better, slower growing genetics... Finally, we have a scaled humanely raised, slower growing, affordable and delicious alternative that doesn’t torture the animals, farmers, consumers or the environment.”

Agrawal will report directly to Wadiak, who called adding trusted executives a critical mission for the company. “I look forward to seeing what Ankur can do for the company as we look to our second year,” Wadiak said.

 “Matt is committed to making a positive, long-lasting impact on the agriculture and food systems,” said Agrawal, who most recently was SeatGeek’s VP of finance. Agrawal first met Wadiak at Blue Apron, where he worked for over three years. He holds an MBA from Yale University and a bachelor’s from New York University.