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News for October 14, 2020

Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry:

Cooler Screens gets $80M to replace cooler doors with electronic displays

Verizon Ventures, Microsoft’s M12 Ventures and other investors are betting big on technology that aims to bring a digital experience to brick-and-mortar shopping—and give brands another avenue to advertise. They led an $80 million series C for Cooler Screens (Chicago, Illinois), which creates interactive digital displays for doors in the cooler aisles of retail stores. Already in use in some Walgreens, Kroger and GetGo stores, they can tell shoppers which items in the cooler are vegan, for example, or how many calories are in a product. Cooler Screens plans to roll out in more retailers and continue to build out its technology platform. 

Cell-based seafood maker Shiok Meats nets $12.6M

Seafood is the next frontier in cell-based technology, and Shiok Meats (Singapore) is leading the way with $12.6 million in funding to build a commercial plant for its first product, a cell-based shrimp that’s expected to be market-ready in 2022. By isolating stem cells from shrimp, lobster and crab, the startup is able to grow crustacean meats in a lab—and four times faster than conventional production methods, according to Aqua-Spark, the investment firm that led the round. Other investors in the round were Seeds Capital, Real Tech Fund, Irongrey, Yellowdog Empowers Fund and Veg Invest Trust. 

Living Ecology sells to private equity firm

Rosewood Private Investments (Dallas, Texas) acquired Living Ecology (Henderson, Nevada) for its functional foods R&D and manufacturing capabilities. Living Ecology makes functional foods and nutritional supplements, specializing in fruit and nutrition bars. Under the deal, it will become an affiliate of Innovations in Nutrition + Wellness, a Rosewood-owned R&D and manufacturing company serving the global health and wellness industry. Its capabilities—including an allergen-free facility—will allow INW to expand its offerings to include a full range of bars and bites. 

Picnic raises $3M to automate pizza-making

Investors have delivered another $3 million to pizza-making robot startup Picnic (Seattle, Washington), which is on a mission to automate food preparation for restaurants. Vulcan Capital, Flying Fish Partners, Creative Ventures, Arnold Venture Group and others took part in the round, which comes less than a year after Picnic’s $5 million seed round closed in November. Picnic’s first offering, an internet-connected device that can make up to 300 customized pizzas per hour, is reportedly in high demand during the pandemic as restaurants look for ways to minimize contact in their operations. It will put the funding toward product development, new hires and marketing. 

Celebs back ‘functional water’ brand Oxigen’s $15M series B

NBA star Kevin Love and country singer Brett Eldridge join Steph Curry—another NBA star—and a slew of business executives as investors in Oxigen (Playa Vista, California), which calls itself “the pH balanced water boosted with oxygen.” The new $15 million will go toward building brand awareness and scaling national distribution for Oxigen’s water, which fits in the fast-growing functional waters category. It’s purified with reverse osmosis, then has electrolytes from sea salt and oxygen added to it, which the brand says boosts recovery. 

VCs back body care brand cofounded by Kobe Bryant with $6M

The men’s grooming brand started by retired NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, who died in January, along with Honest Company cofounder Brian Lee and entrepreneur Matthias Metternich has closed $6 million in venture capital funding. Led by CircleUp Growth Partners, the round will help Art of Sport (Los Angeles, California) grow its retail footprint. The brand initially launched direct-to-consumer before landing in Target stores in February. Its products sell for less than $13 and address the needs of active people, such as excess sweating, aching joints and sun exposure. They’re formulated with botanicals and without parabens or sulfates. Lightspeed Venture Partners, Mark Cuban and others also invested. 

Dewey’s Bakery plans to grow in branded treats, private label with $25M investment

Dewey’s Bakery (Winston-Salem, North Carolina), a baked goods brand and bakery chain with deep roots in its North Carolina community, has secured a $25 million investment to expand. Since 1930, Dewey’s has been making cookies, crackers, cakes and other treats under its own brand and for some of the biggest U.S. food retailers. It also operates several bakeries in the Winston-Salem area. Former Krispy Kreme CEO Scott A. Livengood acquired the business in 2006 and has been growing it across several channels. He invested in the brand alongside global investment firm Eurazeo and incoming CEO Michael P. Senackerib. Eurazeo said the investment will help Dewey’s grow its branded product and private label businesses with enhanced marketing and manufacturing capabilities. 

Investors pour $11.5M into Lyre’s non-alcoholic spirits business

Non-alcoholic beverages are finding favor with health-conscious consumers and also with investors, as demonstrated by Lyre’s (Leichardt, New South Wales) $11.5 million seed round. The Australian startup crafts spirits with natural essences, extracts and distillates instead of alcohol, offering a range of 13 products. The growth capital, which was provided by VRD Investment, Doehler Ventures, DLF Venture, Maropost Ventures and several family offices, will fund product innovation and global expansion. Lyre’s products are sold in more than a dozen markets, including the United States, United Kingdom and China. 

With $68M, Revol Greens ready to launch third high-tech greenhouse

A new $68 million funding round will power Revol Greens (Owatonna, Minnesota) through construction of its third climate-controlled, solar-powered greenhouse. This 20-acre facility in Texas joins two greenhouses in Minnesota and California.Revol’s closed-loop system, which uses hydroponics, natural sunlight and LED lights, allows it to grow leafy greens locally, sustainably and year-round in any climate. Equilibrium Capital led the round, which brings the company’s total funding to $215 million. 

‘Tree-free’ paper brand looks beyond TP with $3M

Cloud Paper (Seattle, Washington), a brand on a mission to end deforestation from paper products, has raised $3 million in seed funding. Greycroft led the round, which will support Cloud Paper as it expands its lineup of paper-free products. The company sells bamboo-based toilet paper wrapped in plastic-free packaging via subscription. The company was founded by former executives from Uber and Convoy. Funding also came from Ashton Kutcher, Mark Cuban, Gwyneth Paltrow, Robert Downey Jr.’s FootPrint Coalition, Muse Capital and others. 

Luxury skin care brand Perricone MD bought for $60M

E-commerce company The Hut Group (Manchester, United Kingdom) has acquired holistic skincare and wellness brand Perricone MD for $60 million. Founded in 1997, Perricone MD has dozens of product patents for its clean-label skincare products and supplements. As it joins The Hut Group’s beauty portfolio, the brand says it will benefit from its new owner’s powerful digital-first infrastructure that will help it scale revenues and enhance margins. The Hut Group went public on the London Stock Exchange in September. 

Another round of investment for Instacart raises valuation to $17.7B

After raising $225 million in June and another $100 million in July, Instacart (San Francisco, California) has tacked on another $200 million from previous investors D1 Capital and Valiant Peregrine Fund. It’s now valued at $17.7 billion, according to a company blog post. With the funds, the grocery delivery behemoth says it plans to introduce new features and tools on its app, continue supporting retailers’ ecommerce needs and invest in its ads program for CPG brands. This year, Instacart has expanded beyond grocery to offer delivery from Sephora, Big Lots, Vitamin Shoppe, Petco and more. It operates in all 50 states and Canada. 

Irish food-to-go firm Around Noon diversifies with Simply Fit Food buy

Around Noon (Newry, UK), which manufactures a range of refrigerated, frozen, hot and bakery products in Ireland and the UK, bought Simply Fit Food (Drogheda, Ireland), maker of healthy convenience meals. As part of the deal, Around Noon plans to invest in refreshing its brand, including new environmentally friendly packaging. Around Noon has been making efforts to diversify its product offerings, including the purchase of snack-and-sandwich-maker Chef-in-a-Box in 2017. 

Air quality monitoring startup Airly takes in $2M

Airly (Krakow, Poland and Palo Alto, California) has secured a $2 million pre-seed investment for its hardware-software system that it says delivers “acurate, hyper-local data about air pollution” in communities across the world. Its product is an iPhone-sized device that combines sensor technologies and software to measure particulate matter and emissions in the air, and deliver air quality information. The founders also developed an algorithm to predict air quality up to 24 hours in advance. Giant Ventures led the round, while the families of Sir Richard Branson and Sir Ronald Cohen, along with other investors, also participated. 

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