News for June 26, 2021
Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry
Explorer Cold Brew nabs $1.5M in seed funding
Explorer Cold Brew (Brooklyn, New York), which launched during the COVID-19 pandemic and makes a 1:4 ratio cold brew concentrate that comes in various caffeine strengths, has raised $1.5 million in seed funding. The capital will enable the LGBTQ+-owned brand to expand its custom at-home coffee offering as well as enhance its e-commerce platform to reach a wider audience. The seed round was led by consumer fund NewBound VC, with participation from Jordan Fliegel, Jeremy Levine and Chris Quinn’s angel syndicate Founders First and LGBT angel syndicate Gaingels, among others.
Aura Bora sparkling water brand secures $2M in seed round
Craft sparking water brand Aura Bora has raised $2 million in a seed round, which will help support its expansion into 7-Eleven, Sprouts, Whole Foods Pacific Northwest and Fresh Thyme. The brand will also use the funds for its new online subscription service where it will introduce limited-edition flavors. Co-founders Paul and Madeleine Voge recently appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank, where they secured a deal with investor Robert Herjavec for $200,000 and 15% equity in the company. Aura Bora uses herbal, fruit and floral extracts to flavor sparkling water in whimsical cans.
Baby food brand Serenity Kids gets $7M in Series A round
CircleUp Growth Partners led a Series A funding round on the heels of a $3 million seed round to give Serenity Kids (Austin, Texas) a total investment of $14 million. Using its proprietary data platform Helio, CircleUp identified Serenity Kids as the No. 1 brand to watch in the baby food category. The company’s revenue grew by more than 200% in 2020 over 2019 and the married-couple founders expect growth of 150% in 2021. The Series A funding, which included participation from Wild Ventures as well as new and existing investors will be invested into expanding the brand’s retail footprint, hiring in sales and marketing and product innovation, particularly around a recall of rice-based baby products following a U.S. House of Representatives committee report that found these products contained traces of arsenic and other heavy metals.
GenTech Holdings buys protein bar maker NxtBar
GenTech Holdings (New York, New York) has acquired NxtBar (Charlotte, North Carolina), maker of keto-friendly protein bars, for an undisclosed amount. The purchase follows another by the holding company for functional food company Sinfit Nutrition, which makes protein powders, cookies and bars.
Superfruit snack brand Rind expands with $6.1M Series A fundraise
Rind Snacks (New York, New York), which has a core line of dried fruit snacks, secured $6.1 million in a Series A round led by Valor Siren Ventures. The company, founded in 2018 and launching into two regions of Whole Foods, Wegmans and Fresh Market last March, will use the capital to expand into the salty snack aisle with the launch of thin-cut, crispy fruit chips. The company cites the $20 billion chips category as a reason to expand its product offering.
Winpro Pet closes on $3M+ Series B round
Next Level Ventures, a venture capital firm in Des Moines. Iowa, has invested $3 million in a Series B funding round for Winpro Pet (Ankeny, Iowa) The company, founded in 2016, makes serum-based supplements for dogs using science behind animal blood proteins. Research at Iowa State University in the 1980s found that blood proteins added to weaning piglets’ diets reduced their mortality. Since then, blood proteins have improved the lives of various animals including dairy calves, lambs, horses and more. Winpro Pet was the first company to create the serum-based supplements specifically for dogs. Next Level Ventures joins long-time Winpro Pet partner Summit Equity Group as key stakeholders.
WM Partners strikes deal for Vega
WM Partners has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire plant-based nutrition pioneer Vega (Burnaby, British Columbia). Vega makes high quality plant-based protein powders across several categories and has successfully expanded beyond its natural channel origins into conventional and e-commerce. “We are excited to work with Vega, the pioneers and leaders of the plant-based nutrition industry and look forward to implementing our operational playbook to create additional value,” said Jose Minski, co-founder of WM Partners. WhiteWave Foods, a Danone subsidiary, has owned the company since buying it for $550 million in 2015.
Change Foods closes $2.1M seed round
Change Foods (Palo Alto, California) plans to bring its first product—animal-free cheese—to market in 2023 thanks to an oversubscribed Seed round of $2.1 million. The company, which was founded in 2019, uses precision fermentation of microorganisms such as yeast or filamentous fungi with sugar to produce cells for specific functional ingredients such as fats, vitamins, flavoring agents and enzymes. The process is similar to that used by Perfect Day and Impossible Foods. Investors include Plug and Play Ventures, Clear Current Capital, Canaccord Genuity, Better Bite Ventures, Jeff Dean and Gerber-Rauth.
Plant-based egg startup closes $1.6M seed round in Singapore
Singaporean food tech company Float Foods (Singapore) has closed its $1.6M seed round to develop and accelerate commercialization for a plant-based egg substitute. Singapore-headquartered venture capital firms Insignia Ventures Partners and DSG Consumer Partners co-led the round to propel the company’s flagship product—OnlyEg, a whole egg made using legumes—to market in Singapore in 2022. OnlyEg is currently in the R&D phase and will be designed for extra nutrition and a longer shelf life before heading to market. Other investors included F&B group Ebb & Flow; food solutions agriculture providers Water Tiger Investments and Agrocorp Ventures and Singapore’s first food incubator with an innovation-driven ecosystem, Innovate 360.
Rae Wellness nabs $9.5M in Series A funding
Socially conscious, women-led wellness brand Rae (Minneapolis, Minnesota) raised $9.5 million in a Series A funding round led by PowerPlant Partners. Other investors included existing investors M13 and Able Partners, and initial investor Victress Capital. The brand, which can be found at retailers such as Thrive Market, Target and Anthropologie, will use the funds to expand distribution, business reach and its product line. The company makes supplements with evidence-based formulas.
Reddit co-founder invests in plant-based meat startup Simulate
Through his venture capital firm, Reddit’s co-founder, Alexis Ohanian, had led a $50 million Series B funding round for Simulate (New York, New York ), which makes plant-based chicken nuggets brand Nuggs. He also joined the company’s board of directors. The company—which launched in 2019 and is now in 5,000 U.S. retail locations including Walmart, Target, Whole Foods and Sam’s club—is also backed by Hollywood actor and model Patrick Schwarzenegger. This round included additional participation from Chris and Crystal Sacca, NOMO Ventures, McCain Foods, Imaginary Ventures and Day One Ventures.
Ontario teachers’ board invests in food tech company Motif FoodWorks
Through its Teachers’ Innovation Platform (TIP), the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board and investment management company BlackRock led a Series B funding round that raised $226 million for Motif FoodWorks (Boston, Massachusetts). TIP focuses on late-stage venture and growth equity investments in companies developing innovative technologies. The second round of funding will help Motif advance the plant-based category by increasing research and development capabilities, scaling and commercializing its food technologies and expanding its people and facilities footprint.
Red Sea Farms gets $10M in funding to grow crops in salt water
Hydroponics company Red Sea Farms (Saudi Arabia) raised $10 million. The company, which is based out of King Abdullah University for Science & Technology in Saudi Arabia, grows tomatoes in an enclosed farm, using salt water to cool the facility and irrigate crops. The tomatoes are sold in markets in Saudi Arabia. Red Sea Farms uses plant selection, breeding and grafting (but not genetically modifying) to develop root stocks that can grow in saltwater, creating a technology that could help countries with abundant coastlines and not as much fresh water become more food independent.
Marketplace for raw materials raises $3M in seed funding
Born of a frustrating experience for Harvard Business School students trying to start a spiked seltzer brand, ShelfLife (New York, New York) aims to fix a complicated supply chain with a digital directory and marketplace of raw materials. The company, currently in beta, has raised $3 million to automate its manual process of procuring supplier quotes. The funding round was co-led by Switch Ventures and Kindred Ventures, with participation from NextView Ventures, Ben Zises (SuperAngel.vc), Ilia Papas (former CTO of Blue Apron) and Elena Donio (former president of SAP Concur).
FoodPharma receives majority growth equity investment from New Harbor Capital
New Harbor Capital has completed a majority growth equity investment in Food Technology and Design LLC, dba FoodPharma LLC (Santa Fe Springs, California), which is a contract manufacturer of proprietary functional and nutritional foods with over 500 proprietary formulas and recipes. FoodPharma has a market-leading position in the soft chew category, specifically in bariatric and weight loss nutrition and serves CPG, private label and specialty brands.
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