Following $12 million in funding in 2019, Cooks Venture, a next generation AgTech company founded by Matthew Wadiak, co-founder of Blue Apron, has hired former SeatGeek Vice President of Finance Ankur Agrawal as CFO.
Upon joining Cooks Venture, Agrawal secured the company’s latest $4 million funding from LA-based Golden West Food Group, which will be used to expand distribution to retailers nationwide, adding to their list of partners, which includes FreshDirect and Golden Gate Meat Company.
Wadiak and Agrawal previously worked together at Blue Apron, where Agrawal was director of finance from 2016 to 2019.
As finance director at Blue Apron, Agrawal headed supply chain and finance operations, working to understand what food costs are and where those numbers are coming from, he told CFO Dive in an interview Monday.
"I learned, because we were sending meal kits to our customers, we had control over our supply chain, and we could work more with farmers to support regenerative agriculture systems," he said.
Agrawal brings skills he honed as director of finance for Blue Apron and PepsiCo, as well as his tech and investor relations knowledge from his post as vice president of finance at SeatGeek.
At Cooks Venture, Agrawal works to support animal welfare and promote food safety and health. The company sells packaged chicken, "like you would find at Tyson or Purdue," with one key difference — the company uses "regenerative agriculture" to produce and distribute up to 700,000 chickens per week.
"Chicken and hogs have to eat feed. They need protein," Agrawal said. "Our breed of chickens is able to eat lower density feed, with less soy, which allows for supporting a more regenerative system."
Cooks Venture’s products are more expensive than traditional chicken, but from a finance perspective, Agrawal is not concerned. "I think consumers are ready," he said.
The company nonetheless represents a departure from his roles at SeatGeek and Blue Apron. "We’re still starting out," Agrawal said. "and the idea of having full ownership, and building everything from the ground up on the finance side, is something different I really want to do."
The company does not presently have a COO, leaving Agrawal to shoulder some of those responsibilities. He said he is "big on supply chain finance and operational finance, doing the financial side of operations."
"I wouldn’t be taking on operations, so to speak, but I would be helping connect the dots," he said. "I’d help finance, operations and sales come together to make sure we’re making the right financial decisions. The operations will really be run by Matt and our VP of operations, and our client manager."