Published in Food/Agribusiness
Vestaron Corp.’s line of ecologically friendly pesticides. Vestaron Corp.’s line of ecologically friendly pesticides. COURTESY PHOTO

West Michigan investors join capital round for eco-friendly pesticide developer

BY Wednesday, May 25, 2022 05:07pm

Local investors joined an $82 million capital round for a company that began in Kalamazoo and developed an ecologically friendly pesticide.

The 17 investors came together through Charter-Vestaron II LLC to invest nearly $2.2 million in Vestaron Corp., which maintains research and development operations in Kalamazoo but three years ago moved the corporate offices to Durham, N.C., in the Research Triangle.

A special purpose entity that formed specifically to make an investment in Vestaron, Charter-Vestaron II LLC consists of many West Michigan investors who backed the company a decade ago in its earliest stages and wanted to continue supporting the company.

“We really do believe this is one of the winners from our portfolio and a truly disruptive technology platform in a huge industry that needs disrupting,” said John Kerschen, president and managing partner at Grand Rapids investment bank Charter Capital Partners LLC. “A lot of credit goes to West Michigan for getting this company off of the ground.”

All of the investors participating in Charter-Vestaron II LLC previously invested in Vestaron through Charter Capital’s venture capital, the Michigan Accelerator Fund, the Michigan Opportunity Fund for growth capital, or a previous special purpose entity, Kerschen said.

Formed in 2005 in Kalamazoo, Vestaron developed the biopesticide platform based on spider venom that offers the agricultural industry an alternative to synthetic chemical pesticides and their effects on the environment, farm workers and food. As well, the company’s innovation alleviates the ability of pests to develop a resistance to chemical insecticides that requires greater application.

The company is presently preparing to introduce a second product to market in 2022 to protect crops, a third in 2023, “and then continue to build on that platform of products,” Kerschen said.

An April research report published by ResearchAndMarkets.com projected the global insecticide market to grow from $18.47 billion in 2020 to $30.62 billion 2029.

Vestaron closed this month on the $82 million Class C capital round that included major prior investors that “was significantly oversubscribed with high demand from both existing and new investors,” the company said.

Lead investors in the capital round — and what Vestaron more broadly calls the “peptide revolution” — include Swiss-based Ordway Selections and Cavallo Ventures in San Francisco.

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