NCN News for March 27, 2018

Recent Transactions in the Nutrition and Health & Wellness Industry


Spindrift sparkling water completes $20 million funding

Spindrift (Newton, Massachusetts), a sparkling water flavored with real fruit, has closed $20 million in Series B-2 funding led by VMG Partners, with participation from Prolog Ventures, KarpReilly and RiverPark Ventures. New capital will help launch Spindrift’s first national advertising campaign to educate consumers about the difference in its ingredients. Spindrift reported having 1,000 percent revenue growth over the past 36 months, and in 2018 expects to triple distribution to more than 25,000 doors. Spindrift was named on Inc. Magazine’s list of fastest-growing companies in 2017. Spindrift announced a $10 million growth capital investment led by VMG Partners in May 2017.


True Botanicals raises $8 million led by Sonoma Brands

True Botanicals (Mill Valley, California), a nontoxic skin- and hair-care brand, has raised an $8 million Series A round led by Sonoma Brands and including prior investors Unilever Ventures and Cue Ball Capital. True Botanicals’ Made Safe certified product line is sold primarily direct to consumer. The company has grown more than 400 percent in the past year, according to Unilever Ventures. True Botanicals conducted randomized double-blind clinical studies on some of its products, including one for acne and a facial oil that it reports outperformed the luxury brand Crème de la Mer. Unilever Ventures first invested in True Botanicals about a year ago. Other personal care companies in the venture arm’s portfolio are Beauty Bakerie cruelty-free cosmetics, Gallinée skin care with probiotics, Nutrafol hair loss supplements, and LXMI natural and organic skin care. True Botanicals was founded in 2015.


Spiral Sun Ventures invests in coconut water, plans to re-launch Slice

Flavored coconut water brand COCO5 (Chicago, Illinois) has raised $1.5 million in its first round of professional capital investment, led by Spiral Sun Ventures and Loop Capital, according to the beverage company’s website. Basketball pros Marcus and Markieff Morris participated in the round and will be involved in COCO5’s marketing efforts, mainly through social media. Working with Revolution Brands, Spiral Sun also plans to re-launch the orange soda brand Slice as a natural low-calorie, low-sugar beverage. Popular in the 1980s and 1990s, Slice was formerly a PepisCo trademark. Other Spiral Sun investments include Pacha Soap, Farmer’s Fridge salads and snacks, Skinny Souping, Lil’ Gourmets and several better-for-you beverage brands.


Aspire acquires Exo cricket protein bars

Aspire Food Group (Austin, Texas), a company that farms food-grade crickets as a sustainable protein source, has acquired Exo (Brooklyn, New York), which makes protein bars with cricket flour. Exo will become Aspire’s consumer brand and will switch to using Aspire’s cricket ingredients. Aspire’s Aketta brand will be re-branded as Exo. Insect protein is a small but growing market in the United States, expected to exceed $50 million within the next five years, according to Global Market Insights data cited in Forbes magazine. The 2018 Global Opportunity Report by DNV GL, the UN Global Compact and Sustainia says the global market for edible insects is predicted to rise to $772.9 million by 2024. Exo was a presenting company at the NCN Spring 2015 Investor Meeting and raised a $4 million Series A round led by AccelFoods that year. Aspire has operations in Ghana and the United States.


Encore announces investment in Supergoop!

Sunscreen brand Supergoop! (San Antonio, Texas) has received a significant minority equity investment from Encore Consumer Capital. Founded by former teacher Holly Thaggard, Supergoop!’s entire product line is dedicated to UV protection, delivering broad-spectrum UV protection in line with the company’s mission to educate consumers about the importance of sun protection, while taking a “fun and engaging lifestyle approach.” Products are sold online and in Sephora, Nordstrom, Bluemercury and other beauty retailers.


Shaka Tea closes second round, announces national distribution

Shaka Tea (Honolulu, Hawaii), a line of Hawaii-grown iced teas brewed from mamaki, an herbal tea only found in the Hawaiian archipelago, closed its second round of financing in February, adding three new investors and aligning the company for “a significant capital raise to pursue national and international expansion by the end of the year,” according to Bella Hughes, president and co-founder. The company also announced it would launch national distribution in the second quarter, following its recent rebrand and updated Shaka Tea formulation that uses monk fruit instead of added sugar for sweetness. Tony Giannini, formerly national sales manager at Nestlé Beverage, has been appointed director of national sales for Shaka Tea.


KEEN invests in Dahlicious Indian-style yogurt drinks

KEEN Growth Capital has invested in Dahlicious (Leominster, Massachusetts), maker of organic lassi, a traditional Indian yogurt drink. The company uses a slow-cultured process to make its lassi beverages, delivering “extraordinary probiotic counts, flavor and texture,” according to Jerry Bello, a managing partner at KEEN. According to Bevnet, the capital commitment overall represents “slightly less than $4 [million].” Dahlicious can be found at Costco, Market Basket, select Safeway stores, Whole Foods Market and specialty retailers. “KEEN is dedicated to making India-style lassi a household word,” Bello said in a released statement.


Finch closes $36 million Series B to advance microbiota products for infection

Finch Therapeutics Group Inc. (Somerville, Massachusetts), a microbiome therapeutics company, has closed a $36 million Series B financing, bringing its total capital raised to $77 million. Investors in the Series B include Shumway Capital, Willett Advisors, Morgan Noble and Avenir Growth Capital. Financing will be used to advance Finch’s pipeline of microbiome-based therapies, including an orally delivered Full-Spectrum Microbiota product for recurrent C. difficile infections. The product was acquired through a strategic merger with Crestovo in 2017. Founded by scientists from MIT and OpenBiome, Finch’s research builds on the science of fecal transplantation.


WHOOP fitness band raises $25 million Series C for international expansion

Performance company WHOOP (Boston, Massachusetts), maker of the WHOOP Strap 2.0 for athletes, announced a $25 million Series C financing led by UAE71 Capital with participation from the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), Durant Company, Thursday Ventures and others. WHOOP will use the funding to accelerate international expansion of its performance technology across elite athlete and consumer markets. The wearable fitness band provides continuous feedback for the key measures of strain, recovery and sleep—information that can be used to improve performance and reduce injuries, the company says. Worldwide wearables sales will grow by an average of 20 percent annually over the next five years, becoming a $29 billion market by 2022, according to CCS Insight data cited by Forbes contributor Paul Lamkin, an authority on wearable technology.


MINDBODY expands wellness services platform

MINDBODY Inc. (San Luis Obispo, California), a technology platform for the wellness services industry, is to acquire Booker Software (New York, New York), a cloud-based business management platform for salons and spas, for approximately $150 million. The acquisition will combine MINDBODY’s consumer network and reach into boutique fitness studios with Booker’s presence in salons and spas. Booker was founded in 2010 to serve the beauty industry and generated approximately $25 million in subscription and payments revenue in 2017. Today Booker serves approximately 10,000 high-end salons and spas. MINDBODY’s total revenue in 2017 was $182.6 million, up 31 percent for the year.


Farmstead announces capital infusion to expand beyond Bay Area

Farmstead (San Francisco, California), a “digital micro-grocer” that delivers fresh food from farm-to-fridge in an hour, announced a $2 million capital infusion led by Resolute Ventures and Social Capital with participation from SV Angel and Y Combinator. This latest round brings Farmstead’s total seed funding to $4.8 million to date. Farmstead uses artificial-intelligence-powered algorithms to predict how much food to order from local sources daily, weekly and annually, thereby reducing food waste at its micro-hubs. Farmstead will use the new funds to build out its core AI technology and expand beyond the Bay Area.


Qantas invests in Mad Paws pet services

Mad Paws (Sydney, Australia), an online marketplace for pet services, announced a $5 million series A funding led by Qantas, the Australian airline. Mad Paws connects pet owners with walkers, groomers, trainers and sitters via its online platform. According to the Financial Review of Australia, the airline said Mad Paws was a good fit for investment as nearly two-thirds of its customers were pet owners, and viewed the need to find care for their animals as an important part of their travel plans. Mad Paws has 300,000 pets registered on its platform and 15,000 verified and insured pet sitters. Funds will be used to expand the company’s technology team and upgrade its mobile app.


Vegy Vida raises $1.8 million

Vegy Vida (Cinncinnati, Ohio) has raised $1.8 million in financing through the midwest chapter of Keiretsu Forum. Vegy Vida makes dips and toppings for vegetables with the aim of making them more appealing for children to eat. Josh Young, co-partner and creator of Vegy Vida, said the investment would be used to expand operational capabilities and service new retailers. Vegy Vida’s mission is to help kids acquire a taste for vegetables and take the struggle out of meal times for parents.


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