NCN Europe Investor Meeting 2017
NCN Success Stories & Presenter Updates
NCN Cornerstone Investor members get quarterly updates on all news and updates provided by many of the 545 former presenting companies at NCN meetings, including transaction information. NCN has presented 545 companies at 31 meetings from 2007-2016, of which more than 270 have raised capital, sold assets or completed some form of transaction.
Read about some of the NCN presenting companies in the nutrition and health & wellness space that have secured the financing needed to support their growth plans.
SUCCESS STORIES & PRESENTER UPDATES
TARGEDYS: NCN EUROPE II
TargEDys, a developer of innovative microbiome-based solutions to regulate appetite, has received €3.5 million from Zaluvida, which joins existing investors Seventure Partners, NCI and Pontifax. Zaluvida's investment supplements the initial €5.8 million raised in April 2016, and its non-dilutive funding of €1.1 million by Bpifrance in March 2017. TargEDys is developing two appetite-regulation products: ProbioSatys, which targets weight loss, and ProbioNutrys, which does the reverse and stimulates appetite in those suffering malnourishment, acachexia or anorexicia. Zaluvida’s CEO Christoph Staeuble and CSO Matthias Miller have joined the board of directors.
SHAKA TEA: NCN XIX in 2016
Shaka Tea (Honolulu, Hawaii) closed an angel round to grow its Hawaiian iced tea brand, brewed from māmaki, an antioxidant-rich plant found only in the Hawaiian archipelago. The round was led by Michael Hammer, managing director of Atomic Brand Labs and former senior director of Strategic Ventures at PepsiCo; James S. Tonkin, president of Healthy Brand Builders; and Grant Ferrier, managing director and co-founder of Nutrition Capital Network. The trio joins co-founders Bella Hughes and Harrison Rice as part of the strategic operations team. The RTD herbal teas are made with natural and organic ingredients, flavored with purees and juices, contain no added sugar, and are 50-90 calories per 16oz bottle. Māmaki has been revered in the Native Hawaiian community for centuries for its health benefits. Shaka Tea was a presenting company at the NCN XIX Fall 2016 Investor Meeting. Posted March 2017
MAKEENA: NCN XIII in 2013
Makeena (Boulder, Colo.), a technology platform that connects natural products brands to shoppers across retailers and social media, has purchased CommonKindness.com (Sausalito, Calif.), a free coupon website. According to Makeena, the acquisition positions it as the largest natural products coupon company in the United States. Makeena offers brands and retailers proprietary data, including business analytics and shopper data profiles; the company's mobile app helps shoppers find products and earn cash back. CommonKindness.com aims to benefit consumers, nonprofit organizations, and brands, eliminating coupon loading, charging brands only for coupons redeemed, and donating 20 percent of revenues to nonprofit organizations of the shopper’s choice. Makeena was founded in 2012 by CEO Karen Frame. (Posted February 2017)
BARNANA: NCN XIII in 2013
Since late 2012, Barnana has steadily overtaken snack aisles by building the only brand synonymous with banana based snacks. Banana is the number 1 selling fruit in the United States, however, over 40% of them are wasted. The company has pioneered a method to sustainably up-cycle bananas that would otherwise go to waste. In 2013 Barnana raised a $1 million seed round at NCN. Barnana reported it has since raised over $6 million and is the fastest growing brand in its category. From 2013-2016 the company said it has experienced an impressive compounded annual growth rate of 139%. Barnana is backed by industry investors including Trently Advisors, Blueberry Venture, Boulder Food Group (BFG), Finn Capital Partners, Jerry Bello, Mark Rampolla and Brad Feld. (Posted February 2017)
KULI KULI: NCN XVII in 2015
Kellogg Company’s (Battle Creek, Mich.) venture capital fund, eighteen94 Capital LLC, is lead investor in a $4.25 million Series A funding of Kuli Kuli (Oakland, Calif.), a manufacturer and distributor of moringa-based products. Other institutional investors in the round were InvestEco and S2G Ventures. A complete plant protein, moringa is produced by trees grown in semiarid and tropical areas. Its leaves, pods and oil can provide a good source of iron, calcium, vitamin A, and other nutrients. Kuli Kuli products include Moringa Superfood Bars, Pure Moringa Powder and Moringa Green Energy Shots. “By investing in Kuli Kuli and helping them grow, we’re backing a new superfood category, one in which we see the potential for ongoing high-growth,” said Simon Burton, managing director of eighteen94 capital and now a member of the Kuli Kuli board of directors. The Kellogg venture fund was launched in June 2016 to invest in innovative food companies. Kuli Kuli was a presenting company at the NCN Fall 2015 Investor Meeting. Kellogg is an NCN Cornerstone Investor. (Posted January 2017)
NUTPODS: NCN XVIII in 2016
Nutpods (Seattle, Wash.), a dairy-free alternative to half and half, made from almonds and coconuts, recently closed a Series A round with Circle Up. Nutpods will use funds to build national distribution and expand its team. After 19 months on the market, nutpods has received national recognition thanks to its rapid rise on Amazon.com and retail sales velocity, the company said, noting that nutpods recently surpassed Coffee-Mate and International Delight in terms of consumer reviews, with more than 2,100 on Amazon that average 4.3 out of 5 stars. Investors in nutpods include Whole 30 and Stray Dog Capital. Green Grass Foods Inc., the producer of nutpods, was a presenting company at NCN XVIII in New York in April 2016. (Posted January 2017)
NURITAS: NCN at SSW in 2016 and 2013
Irish biotechnology startup Nuritas, which uses artificial intelligence to search for genetic and biochemical treatments for diseases, added U2 rockers Bono and The Edge to their roster of investors. “When we first started talking with Nuritas, I was blown away with how their ideas could be used to significantly improve the health of billions of people globally. Using cutting-edge technology and really smart approaches to identify disease-beating peptides in food is something that has never been done before,” said The Edge, whose non-stage name is David Howell Evans. Nuritas was founded by Irish computational biologist and mathematician Dr. Nora Khaldi, and uses deep learning and DNA analysis to discover new health benefits derived from peptides to pave a path to new drugs and develop ingredients for food. The company has raised over $6.5 million. The investment from Bono and Evans adds to a €3 million grant from the European Union, and seed investor New Protein Capital out of Singapore, which put $3.2 million into the company in October 2015. (Posted December 2016)
INSTAVIT: NCN XVIII in 2016
Instavit (Los Angeles, Calif.), a presenting company at the NCN XVIII Spring 2016 Investor Meeting, has announced that its pill–free products are now available at more than 700 Vitamin Shoppe stores. Instavit’s oral sprays include Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Instant Energy, and Sweet Dreams formulas. "We are very proud to have Instavit displayed at what is considered one of the most trusted vitamin retailers in North America," said Tom Morse, CEO of Instavit North America. "We are confident the combination of the doctor-formulations and convenient spray technology of Instavit will resonate with the Vitamin Shoppe's customers. Created by London-based surgeon Dr. Jatin Joshi, Instavit offers supplements without the fillers, binders, or burdens that often come with pill supplements. (Posted September 2016)
GREEN ZEBRA: NCN XV in 2014
Green Zebra Grocery (Portland, Ore.), a retailer focused on organic and local produce, reported a milestone quarter in Q2 2016. Green Zebra opened its first store in Portland’s Kenton neighborhood in 2013 and its second store in the Lloyd District in April 2016. Q2 highlights included positive results for its new Lloyd store and average weekly sales representing an annual run rate of $8.7 million for both stores combined, up 69% over 2015 full year sales. A run rate of ~$10 million is anticipated as 2016 progresses. Green Zebra also entered the final rounds of underwriting with an alternative SBA lender and is looking forward to a Series B for $5 million-$10 million to fuel growth in the Pacific NW. A third store is on track to open in Q4. Also in Q2 Green Zebra rolled out a catering department, including online ordering and a partnership with Portland Pedal Power for bike delivery. Green Zebra was a presenting company at NCN XV in November 2014 in San Francisco.(Posted August 2016)
HIP CHICK FARMS: NCN XIII in 2013
Hip Chick Farms (Sebastopol, Calif.) received a $2 million Series A funding round from Advantage Capital Partners. The maker of free range and organic chicken nuggets, fingers, and meatballs then lassoed another $500,000 in investment money on an episode of CNBC’s reality show, Texas Investors Club. Hip Chick Farms has also inked a contract with the Orinda Union School District in California. Hip Chick Farms was founded in 2013 by Serafina Palandech and Jennifer Johnson, and was a presenting company at NCN XIII in October 2013 in San Francisco. (Posted July 2016)
PANTRY: NCN XIII in 2013
Pantry, a manufacturer of smart fridge kiosks, has been acquired in an all share transaction by Byte Foods, a service delivering healthy meals to businesses in San Francisco, according to Agfunder. Pantry was a Presenting Company at NCN XIII in October 2013 in San Francisco where it introduced its swipe-grab-and-go technology to an audience of investors. (Posted June 2016)
AIDP has signed an exclusive agreement with NutraEx Food Inc. to market and distribute SugarLike Encapsulated Sweeteners to the functional foods and nutraceutical industries. AIDP is an NCN Cornerstone Investor and NutraEx was a presenter at NCN XVIII in New York in April 2016. (Posted June 2016)
Natreon Inc., a developer of Ayurvedic ingredients, has announced that the company’s standardized aqueous extract of Terminalia chebula significantly improves joint discomfort, according to a human clinical study published in The Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical and Clinical Research. The study of 100 healthy human volunteers showed that treatment with Natreon’s AyuFlex® 500 mg twice daily for 12 weeks resulted in significant improvements in mWOMAC scores, knee swelling, and pain, stiffness and disability. Natreon was an NCN presenter in 2014. (Posted June 2016)
Panacea BioMatx Inc. (Research Triangle Park, N.C.) has signed a license agreement with Sanitarium Health and Wellbeing Company (Sydney, Australia) for Panacea’s on-demand automated personalized nutrition system. Associated with the license agreement, Sanitarium will make an investment of up to $US1 million, and existing investors have agreed to match this investment on similar terms. Panacea has developed a “pill free” system to deliver personalized formulas of vitamins, minerals, oils, or herbs, blended with a user-selected food and delivered in convenient packets. Panacea was a presenting company at NCN meetings in 2013. Sanitarium is an NCN Cornerstone Investor. (Posted May 2016)
Evolva (Basel, Switzerland) has reached the first technical milestones under its multi-year R&D alliance with Takasago International of Japan, prompting a milestone payment to Evolva of CHF 1 million. Evolva and Takasago are applying Evolva’s fermentation technology platform to develop and optimize yeast strains for the sustainable and cost-effective production of undisclosed ingredients with broad applications in the flavor and fragrance industry. The two parties will share equally in the costs and rewards related to the manufacture and commercialization of final products. Takasago is a global flavor and fragrance company. Evolva was an NCN presenting company in 2012 and 2013.
Mazza Innovation Ltd., a provider of premium-quality solvent-free botanical extracts and an NCN presenting company in 2014, has signed an exclusive agreement with Naturex Group of France. A global leader in specialty plant-based ingredients, Naturex will use Mazza’s patented pressurized low-polarity water technology (PhytoClean) to produce cranberry extracts for Naturex in its newly opened facility in British Columbia. PhytoClean extracts bioactive compounds using only water and produces clean, non-solvent-derived ingredients, including polyphenols, alkaloids, glycosides and specialty carbohydrates that can be used as ingredients for functional foods, dietary supplements and beauty products. (Posted March 2016)
BrightFarms has closed a $13.65 million Series B-1 financing led by WP Global Partners, NGEN Partners and Emil Capital Partners. Financing will be used to build commercial-scale greenhouse farms to meet demand for fresher, locally grown produce. BrightFarms has begun shipping almost one million pounds of produce per year to Ahold USA’s Giant Food Stores, Martin's and via Peapod online in Virginia, Maryland, Washington DC and Delaware. In Spring 2016 BrightFarms’ Chicagoland Greenhouse (Rochelle, Ill.) will start shipping to Roundy's/Mariano's Chicagoland (recently acquired by Kroger) and select Wisconsin stores. BrightFarms was presenting company at NCN XVI in May 2015 in New York. NGEN Partners is an NCN Cornerstone Investor. (Posted February 2016)
Waiakea Hawaiian Volcanic Water was featured in Forbes for being one of the most awarded and fastest growing bottled water companies in the country, growing 5,200% over the last three years. Launched in 2012, Waiakea bottled water is filtered through porous volcanic rock that naturally enhances it with minerals and electrolytes. It is the first triple bottom line premium bottled water of its kind, aiming to address consumer preferences with its platform of healthy, sustainable, and ethical initiatives. Waiakea was also awarded the 2015 World Beverage Innovation Award, Best Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative, Best Packaged Water; 2015 Best in Biz Awards, Most Socially Responsible Company; 2015 National Restaurant Assn. FABI (Food and Beverage Innovation) Award; 24th Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting, Best Packaging; and the 2014 BevStar Awards, Gold, Best in Show. Waiakea was a presenting company at NCN XV in November 2014 in San Francisco. (Posted January 2016)
Kuli Kuli, a pioneering moringa superfood company, just achieved profitability and is currently at a $3M revenue run rate. After presenting at NCN in November 2015, Kuli Kuli closed on a $1M seed round and brought on NCN XVII meeting attendee Mark Rampolla, founder of ZICO Coconut Water, as a new advisor. Rampolla is a partner in Powerplant Ventures, which recently became an NCN Cornerstone Investor. Kuli Kuli has launched its new Moringa Green Energy Shots nationwide with Whole Foods Market. The product was co-developed with Whole Foods and the Clinton Foundation with the goal of helping to reforest Haiti. Kuli Kuli's Pure Moringa Powder has also launched nationwide at Sprouts and Whole Foods Market. Kuli Kuli was recently featured in Fast Company and on NPR in stories about moringa as the “new kale.” Kuli Kuli will be opening up a Series A early next year. Interested investors should contact Lisa Curtis, CEO at firstname.lastname@example.org. Kuli Kuli was a presenting company at NCN XVII in November 2015 in San Francisco. (Posted July 2016)
Maypro Industries (Purchase, N.Y.), a global supplier of specialty nutritional ingredients, announced a structured financing of Good Superfoods LLC (Boise, Idaho) in October 2015, a manufacturer of functional chocolate products, nutrition bars and powders. Good Superfoods was a presenting company at NCN’s Spring 2014 Investor Meeting. Operating under a new corporate name, NutriWelle, the company split into two divisions: one dedicated to private label manufacturing and the other focused on marketing finished products under the Good Superfoods, Agami and Good Cacao brand names. “This investment partnership is the core of our growth strategy to expand into the functional foods business,” said Dan Lifton, president of Maypro’s Proprietary and Branded Ingredients division. “It also represents our confidence in the Management team and our desire to back the founder of the company to help take it to the next level.” “We are delighted to welcome Maypro as our new strategic investor and partner” said Paul Frantellizzi, NutriWelle’s CEO and founding partner. “We see tremendous synergies between the two companies and look forward to leveraging Maypro’s sales capabilities to greatly expand our private label business.” (Posted January 2016)
Simple Mills, a maker of branded nutrient-rich baking mixes that are naturally gluten-free, anticipates closing out 2015 at $640,000 above its forecast, nearly tripling 2014 revenues. Simple Mills has also filled out its leadership team and is joined by VP of Sales Bobbie Turco, formerly with Enjoy Life; VP of Marketing Michelle Lorge, formerly with Kraft; and VP of Operations Peter Eck, formerly with Kraft and Booz. Since presenting at NCN XVI on May 18-19, 2015 in New York, Simple Mills has developed a ready-to-eat product line that will go into production in January 2016. The company anticipates tripling in size in 2016 and already has confirmed rollouts for Q1 and Q2 in top-tier conventional stores and in natural stores for its RTE line. “The only changes to our business plan have been an acceleration of timelines; we are reaching our goals faster than we initially planned and thus are forecasting higher revenues for 2016 and 2017 than previously indicated,” said Katlin Smith, founder and CEO. Simple Mills is currently fundraising and aiming to close a $3 million round by mid-January. “This round is being led by our current investors, and we are seeking investors to help fill out the round,” said Smith. (Posted December 2015)
Nutritional ingredient startup NutriLeads BV (Wageningen, The Netherlands) closed a seed financing round with DSM Venturing, Ppm Oost, Shift Invest and Thuja Capital. NutriLeads’ lead ingredient is derived from a traditional herbal remedy shown in clinical trials to support immune function and improve resistance to infections. The active component can be sustainably sourced from food crops. NutriLeads was a presenting company at NCN Europe I at Vitafoods in May 2014. DSM Venturing is an NCN Cornerstone Investor. (Posted November 2015)
A supplier of science based Ayurvedic ingredients and a presenting company at NCN's Ingredients & Technology investor meeting in Las Vegas last year, Natreon Inc. has announced an equity investment from DSM Venturing BV, the corporate venture capital arm of Royal DSM. "Our experience at NCN was very productive. We honed our business plan, met many new high-level contacts, and the recent announcement of our investment from DSM Venturing was largely the result of the NCN process," said Sanni Raju, CEO & chairman of Natreon. DSM is a long-time NCN Cornerstone Investor. Natreon owns an R&D facility in Kolkata, India. The company’s product portfolio includes Capros for heart health, Sensoril for stress and cognition, PrimaVie for mitochondrial energy and AyuFlex for joint health.
MycoTechnology Inc. has raised $5.5 million of its Series A round of funding. “It was through Nutrition Capital Network that we were introduced to one of our key investors and we are currently working to close the remaining $2.5 million to reach our goal of $8 million,” said Alan Hahn, CEO and founder of MycoTechnology. The food technology company, which uses a natural, proprietary bioprocess to transform and enhance the value of agricultural products, presented at NCN at SupplySide West in 2014. “The benefit of the NCN meeting was instant exposure to some of the biggest names in the food and beverage industry. Our company’s mission resonated very well with the strategic initiatives that these companies are focused on, and we are very confident that the business development opportunities that are underway will result in significant revenue for the company,” Hahn added. Seventure Partners, an NCN Cornerstone Investor, participated in the round.
Grower’s Secret Inc. (GSI), a company specializing in organic plant growth enhancers and eco-friendly fertilizers, sowed the seeds for a strategic acquisition when it presented its business plan at the NCN XI Fall Investor Meeting in October 2012. One month after the event, the Honolulu-based company was approached by an investor who had attended the NCN meeting, and an investment ensued. The funds allowed Chaz Berman, CEO of GSI, to expand his business and form part of a larger investment leading to the June 2014 acquisition of Midwestern BioAg, a company with sales over $30 million—30 times bigger than GSI. According to Berman, the NCN investor meeting motivated him to refine and practice his company presentation and enhanced his chances of attracting an investor: “If invited I would present again and have no hesitation in recommending NCN investor meetings to budding entrepreneurs in the nutrition and health & wellness industry.”
Ecologic Brands (Oakland, Calif.), maker of America’s first recycled paper bottle and the eco.bottle line, has completed the first close of a $7 million round of financing. Kruger Inc. (Montreal), a major manufacturer of paper, cardboard and recycled products, participated along with current angel investors DBL Investors, Catamount Ventures, and Black Bear Partners. Ecologic Brands was founded in 2008 and was a presenting company at NCN XII in New York in 2013.
Suja Juice, a 100% organic, non-GMO juice and smoothie brand, raised over $21 million from the sale of equity and debt in December 2014, according to a regulatory filing. This followed an undisclosed minority investment from Alliance Consumer Growth in January 2014 and an $8+ million minority investment by Boulder Brands Investment Group in 2013. Suja was founded in May 2012 and was a presenting company at NCN XII in Spring 2013. The company uses a cold pressure technology called high pressure processing (HPP) rather than heat pasteurization to preserve its juice; many believe HPP delivers better taste and nutrition. Suja is sold at Whole Foods Markets, Sprouts, and in natural and grocery stores nationwide. Founded in May 2012, Suja was a presenting company at NCN XII in Spring 2013.
The Coca-Cola Company announced in November 2013 that it had acquired the remaining ownership stake in ZICO, maker of one of the leading brands of coconut water. Coca-Cola’s Venturing and Emerging Brands (VEB) business unit first invested in ZICO in 2009; Coca-Cola purchased a majority stake in 2012. According to Coca-Cola, ZICO’s volume growth continued to outperform the category, which nearly doubled its revenue every year since 2004. ZICO was a Presenting Company at the NCN III Investor Meeting in 2008. VEB is an NCN Cornerstone Investor.
In June 2013, Campbell Soup Company announced it had completed the acquisition of Plum Organics, maker of premium organic baby and toddler food and children’s snacks. Terms were not disclosed. Plum was co-founded by Catamount Ventures in 2007. Plum Organics generated $93 million in gross sales in 2012, according to Campbell. Hallmarks of Plum Organics are pouch-style packaging and culinary-inspired nutrition for children. Plum Organics was a Presenting Company at NCN IV in New York.
In May 2013, Danone agreed to acquire an equity interest of more than 90% in Happy Family (Brooklyn, N.Y.), a producer of premium organic foods for babies and young children. Launched in 2006, Happy Family had gross revenues of more than $60 million, according to Danone. Happy Family was a Presenting Company at NCN III in San
Francisco in 2008. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation announced a $4.6 million investment in Happy Family in November 2012.
Also in May, Tate & Lyle acquired Biovelop of Sweden, a manufacturer of oat beta glucan under the brand name PromOat and Avenacare. Beta glucan is a soluble fiber supported by European and U.S. health claims for lowering blood cholesterol and risk of heart disease. Founded in 2005, Biovelop was a Presenting Company at NCN IX in November 2011 in Los Angeles. Tate & Lyle is an NCN Cornerstone Investor.
Anagenix Ltd. (Wellington, New Zealand), a nutritional product development company, has secured a distribution deal with U.S.-based Stratum Nutrition. As a result of the partnership, Stratum is launching two Anagenix-made kiwifruit-based products, Actazin and ApuraGreen, into the United States, Europe, Canada, Australia and other countries. Stratum Nutrition is a subsidiary of multinational Novus International Inc. and offers a range of specialty and functional ingredients for manufacturers and marketers of foods, beverages, and dietary supplements. “We have always been focused on driving export sales, and this partnership will significantly boost sales of our nutritional products, Actazin and ApuraGreen, in our key international markets this year,” said Anagenix COO Melissa Yiannoutsos. Actazin is a kiwifruit supplement ingredient for digestive health while ApuraGreen is a kiwifruit paste that can replace eggs, dairy products, butter, or oils in cooking. Anagenix was introduced to Stratum via a New Zealand Trade and Enterprise forum at the NCN Ingredients and Technology Investor Meeting in Las Vegas in 2010. Stratum Nutrition is an NCN Cornerstone Investor. New Zealand Trade and Enterprise is an NCN Sponsor.
ZEVIA, the first 100% natural zero-calorie soda sweetened with stevia, was introduced in 2007. When ZEVIA LLC presented its business plan at NCN’s Fall Investor Meeting in 2009, the company was generating around $2.4 million in revenues and seeking financing to meet the demands of its more than 300% annual growth rate. At that NCN meeting, five investors signed up on ZEVIA’s dance card, of which three ended up presenting term sheets. It was at NCN that ZEVIA made the connections bringing it to the attention of one of its future owners, industry veteran Paddy Spence, founder of the market research firm SPINS. Less than a year later, Northwood Ventures and Spence, a former executive at Kashi and Levlad/Nature’s Gate, announced a substantial strategic investment in ZEVIA. In March 2012, ZEVIA raised an additional financing of $5.5 million. NGEN Partners has also backed ZEVIA, with Managing Director Rosemary L. Ripley joining ZEVIA’s board of directors. In 2013, six years after it was launched, ZEVIA is the top-selling soda brand in the natural retail channel, and sales have expanded into conventional grocery, big box stores and other retail formats throughout North America. Reflecting on ZEVIA’s impressive rise, Co-founder Derek Newman said, “NCN was by far my most successful fundraising endeavor. I met Paddy [Spence] as a result of connections I made at NCN. In the end I had eight term sheets, a few of which came from NCN investors, and the rest of which could be traced to NCN connections.”
FOOD SHOULD TASTE GOOD
In February 2012 General Mills announced the acquisition of Food Should Taste Good, a natural snack foods company that presented at NCN's 2010 Spring Investor Meeting. FSTG became part of Small Planet Foods, General Mills’ natural and organic products business, taking its place alongside the Cascadian Farm, Muir Glen, and LÄRABAR brands. Pete Lescoe founded FTSG in 2006. Today the brand includes natural tortilla chips in flavors such as Sweet Potato, Lime, Olive, Chocolate, Multigrain, and Jalapeno, in addition to other natural snacks. All chip varieties are gluten free, cholesterol free, and have zero grams trans fats. FSTG products are enrolled in the Non-GMO Project.
Global beer and beverage giant Kirin Holdings of Japan made a minority investment in Nawgan Products LLC (St. Louis, Mo.), maker of a functional health beverage to support mental focus and alertness. Funds were earmarked for growth initiatives throughout North America. A key ingredient in the Nawgan beverage is Cognizin brand citicoline, made by Kyowa Hakko Bio, a Kirin-owned company. Citicoline is a natural substance that plays a role in the formation of cell membranes, supporting healthy brain function. "Kirin Holdings shares our commitment to bringing science-based beverages to the market,” said Dr. Robert Paul, a clinical neuropsychologist and developer of the Nawgan beverage. Paul noted that his firm’s participation at NCN’s Spring 2011 Investor Meeting provided “a key foundation for its subsequent success with the investment.” Nawgan was founded in 2007 and launched in 2010 with seed funding provided in part by the St. Louis-based Biogenerator and angel investors.
In 2009, Sherbrooke Capital, an NCN Founder’s Circle member, introduced its portfolio company Immaculate Baking to Nutrition Capital Network. This up-and-coming marketer of natural and organic refrigerated dough products applied for and was accepted to present its business plan at NCN IV, our 2009 Spring Investor Meeting in New York. At the meeting, Immaculate Baking met LFE Capital, which led to a $5 million financing round including existing investors Sherbrooke Capital and Dogwood Equity.
ZHENA'S GYPSY TEA
Founded in 2001, Zhena’s Gypsy Tea (ZGT) is a rapidly growing brand recognized for fostering growth of the Fair Trade and organic movements and for tea and herbal products that meet consumers' growing demand for unique flavor profiles, health, and social responsibility. The company successfully applied for the NCN IV Spring Investor Meeting where it presented its market opportunity, financial model and strategic objectives, including building its growth platform, penetrating additional channels and remaining a game changer in the tea category. ZGT has since received a $3.2 million investment by Westland Ventures LLC. Partnership Capital Growth Advisors, an NCN Investment Banking Partner, served as the exclusive financial advisor in the transaction, which closed in the second quarter of 2009.