Katapult Ocean Fund, Pasudeco Development Corporation, Manila Angel Investors Network, she1k, and Nardo Holdings also participated in the funding round that will help launch the startup’s products in the Philippines.
Fortuna Cools manufactures upcycled coconut fiber material coolers alongside small-scale agricultural communities and the NGO Rare. The coolers were designed first and foremost to help fishermen preserve their catch without relying on fragile Styrofoam boxes.
The Nutshell Cooler is the company’s first consumer product, extending the product line beyond insulated packaging. The cooler also stands out for its unique collapsible design and striking aesthetics.
The UN Development Program awarded Fortuna’s Coconut Cooler the Ocean Innovation Prize in 2021 to accelerate the shift from plastic foam to biodegradable alternatives.
“Fortuna’s nature-based insulation solution not only aims to replace plastic foam but in doing so will provide communities with a more robust and lower cost cold storage solution,” said Ross Brooks, investment manager at Katapult Ocean.
The startup said it will use the fresh capital to grow its sales and engineering teams and boost its higher production volumes to reduce unit costs and benefit more farmers.
“We hear the demand for less plastic waste among everyone from fish traders to sunbathers, while small-scale coconut farmers have no choice today but to burn their piles of leftover husks. We’re proud to pioneer a new kind of cooler, and we’re proud that positive impact is built into every fiber we use,” said Fortuna Cools co-founder and CEO David Cutler.
The funding comes as agriculture remains one of the essential, if not the most essential, industry in the country. The Philippines is still primarily an agricultural country despite the plan to make it an industrialized economy by 2000.
The country’s agriculture sector is made up of 4 sub-sectors: farming, fisheries, livestock, and forestry, which together employ 39.8% of the labor force and contribute 20% of GDP.