Ben Pasternak's food-tech start-up recently earned $50 million in funding. Target and Sam's Club both sell their stuff. This is the 21-year-third old's business venture. He was raised in Sydney, Australia, but has been living alone in Manhattan since he was 16.
When Pasternak was 14, he created the game Impossible Rush in science class and was surprised to see it reach the top of the app rankings with over 2 million downloads. “It was a small game, but it was addictive,” he explains.
A New York filmmaker volunteered to connect him with financiers in the United States, and he quickly had the attention of the entire globe. That summer, his father took him to San Francisco for a series of business meetings.
He received about $500,000 from four backers, much to the family's astonishment, and the director advised him to travel to New York to start his business. He launched Flogg, a shopping, and social-media network for teenagers, in the spring of 2016. It was a flop.
When he was 16, he was broke and washed up, so he did what any good serial entrepreneur would do: he persuaded other people to give him more money. This second try was more difficult—he pitched over 100 investors, largely over the phone—and only raised $200,000. But it was enough to design and launch another successful social media app, Monkey. He created a business around the new initiative, which was purchased by a Chinese entity in 2018 for an unknown fee.
When he created his third company, SIMULATE, a “tech optimistic” nutrition company, he received a lot of interest from investors. Pasternak became interested in food since the business has been ignoring new technology such as GMO crops and factory processing in favour of production processes dating back to the 1800s, according to him.
He is applying a software architecture to food, starting with NUGGS, a vegan spin on the iconic chicken nugget. “Kills you slower,” reads the product tagline. “Non-preachiness" is one of our company's basic values,” says Pasternak, the slogan's creator.