2x Consumer Products Growth Partners has invested in The Sill, the leading digitally-native brand selling houseplants, pots and accessories. The Sill sells its curated products through its DTC website (www.TheSill.com) and company-owned retail stores. The Sill has built a large and loyal consumer base by designing its products to be stylish, “must have” home décor items and by empowering people to become “plant parents” through educational content on buying and caring for plants.
KEYNOTE: Steps to Strategic Investment with 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners, Good Karma and Dean Foods
Sharon Kieffer, Managing Partner of 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners, discussed Dean Foods’ multi-step investment in Good Karma at BevNET Live Winter 2018. Joining her were Doug Radi, CEO of Good Karma, and Alex Jacobs, VP of Corporate Development & Strategy at Dean Foods. They shed light on how 2x Partners and Good Karma partnered to build a strong foundation for the business and rapidly scale in order to attract strategic interest from Dean Foods. They also provided insight on how to ensure the right fit in potential partnerships and how to structure partnerships to ensure mutual alignment.
Andy Whitman, Managing Partner of 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners, discussed best practices in fundraising as part of a Founder Bootcamp Mini-Series on SnackNation’s Brand Builder podcast. Andy gave insight into the evolution of the emerging CPG brands space from his experience in the industry over the last two decades. He also breaks down what excites the 2x Partners team when evaluating potential brand partnerships and how 2x Partners’ model supports a unique approach to partnering with management teams.
Listen to the podcast at https://www.snacknation.com/blog/andy-whitman-2x-partners/.
Investment marks Dean Foods’ commitment to plant-based foods and beverages
DALLAS and BOULDER, Colo., July 2, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Dean Foods Company (NYSE: DF) today announced it has increased its ownership percentage and taken a majority stake in Good Karma Foods, the leading brand of flaxseed-based milk and yogurt alternatives.
“Good Karma is a fast-growing brand that gets us back into the growing plant-based food and beverage category, making it an excellent addition to our portfolio,” said Ralph Scozzafava, CEO of Dean Foods. “Our investment in Good Karma is just one example of how we are executing against one of the major pillars of our strategic plan, to build and buy strong brands.”
Good Karma’s plant-based alternatives are free of all major allergens, deliver strong nutritional benefits and have a surprisingly neutral flavor and creamy texture, which allows Dean Foods to reach consumers looking for great-tasting alternatives to conventional dairy.
“We are thrilled about our continued partnership with the Dean Foods team,” said Doug Radi, Good Karma Foods CEO. “We believe this relationship validates that Good Karma is one of the leading and fastest-growing brands to watch in the plant-based category, and we are excited about how this partnership will advance our mission of inspiring goodness by making our plant-based, non-dairy beverages and yogurts more accessible across the U.S.”
Scozzafava continued, “As majority owners, we look forward to working with Doug and his team to continue their strong momentum and support their growth agenda.”
Good Karma will continue to operate as a Boulder-based independent company led by its existing leadership team. 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners continues to be a material investor and supporter of Good Karma.
ABOUT DEAN FOODS
Dean Foods is a leading food and beverage company and the largest processor and direct-to-store distributor of fresh fluid milk and other dairy and dairy case products in the United States. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, the Dean Foods portfolio includes DairyPure®, the country’s first and largest fresh, white milk national brand, and TruMoo®, the leading national flavored milk brand, along with well-known regional dairy brands such as Alta Dena®, Berkeley Farms®, Country Fresh®, Dean’s®, Friendly’s®, Garelick Farms®, LAND O LAKES®* milk and cultured products*, Lehigh Valley Dairy Farms®, Mayfield®, McArthur®, Meadow Gold®, Oak Farms®, PET®**, T.G. Lee®, Tuscan® and more. Dean Foods also has a joint venture with Organic Valley®, distributing fresh organic products to local retailers. In all, Dean Foods has more than 50 national, regional and local dairy brands as well as private labels. Dean Foods also makes and distributes ice cream, cultured products, juices, teas, and bottled water. Almost 16,000 employees across the country work every day to make Dean Foods the most admired and trusted provider of wholesome, great-tasting dairy products at every occasion. For more information about Dean Foods and its brands, visit www.deanfoods.com.
*The LAND O LAKES brand is owned by Land O’Lakes, Inc. and is used by license.
**PET is a trademark of Eagle Family Foods Group LLC, under license.
ABOUT GOOD KARMA FOODS
Good Karma isn’t just our name, it’s the inspiration for everything we do. We are a company and a group of people with full hearts who inspire goodness with the tiny but mighty choices we make every day, from selecting our ingredients, to how we make our products and give back to our community. Based in Boulder, Colo., we are dedicated to making plant-based, dairy alternative food and beverage products that deliver a mighty bundle of nutrition along with surprisingly good taste and texture. In 2012, Good Karma was the first company to create a flax-based milk alternative based on the need for a dairy alternative that was free of all major allergens, and also delivered on nutrition, taste and texture. Since then, we have launched a line of Flaxmilk + Protein, Probiotic Drinkable Yogurts, Dairy Free Yogurt Cups, Seasonal Nogs and a line of shelf-stable Flaxmilk Omega-3 + Protein. By providing allergen-friendly products that put a smile on your face, we hope you’ll be inspired to join our Good Karma movement through the tiny but mighty actions you take each day. Learn more and find additional inspiration by connecting with us online at www.goodkarmafoods.com, and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Contact Dean Foods: Corporate Communications, Reace Smith, +1-214-721-7766, email@example.com; or Investor Relations, Sherri Baker, +1-214-303-3438
Contact Good Karma Foods: Elexis Schroder, +1-720-352-3961, firstname.lastname@example.org
Read more about D below!
New York, NY (March 13, 2018) – Surratt Beauty, a luxury, color cosmetics brand created by visionary & celebrity makeup artist Troy Surratt, announced today that it has received an investment from 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners (2x Partners), a leading private equity investor in the emerging consumer products space, and AHR Growth Partners (AHR), an investor and advisor to emerging consumer brands.
Founded in 2013, Surratt Beauty is known for its high degree of artistry, innovation and Japanese influence. The brand offers a line of superior products, including eye, lip, face and tools, meticulously sourced from Japan after Surratt’s global search to discover the best. Today, the brand is sold across a variety of premier beauty retailers, including Barneys NY, Liberty of London, MECCA in Australia, Space NK and select Sephora and Bluemercury locations.
“I believe today’s consumer should have the very best, and our mission is to deliver the sophistication and quality that Japanese cosmetics are known for. We are honored to work with 2x Partners and AHR to help support and accelerate the brand,” said Surratt, founder.
Joining Surratt Beauty is Heidi Manheimer, previously Chief Executive Officer of Shiseido Cosmetics USA, as Executive Chairman, and Joyce Avalon, most recently Chief Merchant at Space NK, as President. Manheimer, a longtime friend and mentor to Surratt, added, “I am eager to partner with Troy and the team to help take the brand to the next level. Everyone is going after the Millennial today, but at the same time, you have the luxury customer who is looking for something new, and Surratt fills that.”
“We are thrilled to partner with Surratt Beauty because of our belief in Troy’s artistry, the award-winning products that he has created and his commitment to innovation and creativity. Together with Troy, Heidi, AHR and the rest of the team, we look forward to growing Surratt Beauty into a leader in luxury color cosmetics,” said Sharon Kieffer, a Managing Partner at 2x Partners.
John Bahr, Managing Partner at AHR noted, “We are impressed by Surratt’s Japanese approach to beauty, and are excited to partner with 2x Partners and the team to help Surratt become a leader in the luxury space.”
Terms of the investment, which was led by 2x Partners, were not disclosed.
KEYNOTE: Platforming A Business To Create Exponential Value
Andy Whitman, Managing Partner of 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners, will discuss how to build outsized value via Brand Platformation™. He will provide a roadmap for how you can think about building your brand into a powerful platform. Andy will share specific case study examples, including with regard to Good Karma (a leader in non-dairy beverages and yogurts that recently attracted an investment/distribution partnership with Dean Foods, the largest processor and direct-to-store distributor of dairy case products in the US). This keynote address is not to be missed.
Investment marks Dean Foods’ entrance into plant-based beverages category
DALLAS, Texas and BOULDER, Colorado – Dean Foods Company (NYSE: DF) today announced a minority investment and a distribution deal with Good Karma Foods, the leading producer of flaxseed-based milk and yogurt alternatives. The partnership with Dean Foods, a leading food and beverage company, will allow Good Karma to more quickly expand distribution across the U.S., as well as increase investments in brand building and product innovation. Dean Foods will take a position in the brand and joins lead investor 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners in support of Good Karma.
“We love Good Karma as a fit for Dean Foods as we focus on diversification both within and beyond dairy,” said Ralph Scozzafava, CEO of Dean Foods. “This opportunity with Good Karma is a way for us to build a platform for a larger plant-based portfolio. The management team has deep category expertise, the brand is a disruptor in plant-based, non-dairy space, and we believe we can support its growth.”
Scozzafava continued, “One of the pillars of our strategic plan is to build and buy strong brands, and Good Karma embodies the exact type of opportunity we’re interested in as we look to add leading and high potential brands in adjacent growing categories such as plant-based beverages.”
“Good Karma isn’t just our name, it’s the inspiration for everything we do,” said Doug Radi, Good Karma Foods CEO. “This partnership validates that Good Karma has become one of the leading and fastest-growing brands to watch in the plant-based category. We are excited about how this partnership will give us the opportunity to advance our mission of inspiring goodness by making our flax-based non-dairy beverages and yogurts more accessible across the U.S.”
Good Karma will continue to operate as a Boulder-based independent company led by its existing leadership team. As part of the investment agreement, Dean Foods will lend support to Good Karma’s growth plans in the conventional retail channel through its experienced sales team. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Piper Jaffray served as an advisor to Good Karma.
ABOUT DEAN FOODS
Dean Foods is a leading food and beverage company and the largest processor and direct-to-store distributor of fresh fluid milk and other dairy and dairy case products in the United States. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, the Dean Foods portfolio includes DairyPure®, the country’s first and largest fresh, white milk national brand, and TruMoo®, the leading national flavored milk brand, along with well-known regional dairy brands such as Alta Dena®, Berkeley Farms®, Country Fresh®, Dean’s®, Friendly’s®, Garelick Farms®, LAND O LAKES®* milk and cultured products*, Lehigh Valley Dairy Farms®, Mayfield®, McArthur®, Meadow Gold®, Oak Farms®, PET®**, T.G. Lee®, Tuscan® and more. Dean Foods also has a joint venture with Organic Valley®, distributing fresh organic products to local retailers. In all, Dean Foods has more than 50 national, regional and local dairy brands as well as private labels. Dean Foods also makes and distributes ice cream, cultured products, juices, teas, and bottled water. Almost 17,000 employees across the country work every day to make Dean Foods the most admired and trusted provider of wholesome, great-tasting dairy products at every occasion. For more information about Dean Foods and its brands, visit www.deanfoods.com.
*The LAND O LAKES brand is owned by Land O’Lakes, Inc. and is used by license.
**PET is a trademark of Eagle Family Foods Group LLC, under license.
ABOUT GOOD KARMA FOODS
Good Karma isn’t just our name, it’s the inspiration for everything we do. We are a company and a group of people with good hearts who inspire goodness with the tiny but mighty choices we make every day, from selecting our ingredients, to how we make our products and give back to our community. Based in Boulder, Colo., we are dedicated to making plant-based, dairy alternative food and beverage products that deliver a mighty bundle of nutrition along with surprisingly good taste and texture. In 2012, Good Karma was the first company to create a flax-based milk alternative based on the need for a dairy alternative that was free of all major allergens, and also delivered on nutrition, taste and texture. Since then, we have launched Flaxmilks with added protein, Probiotic Drinkable Yogurts and Dairy Free Yogurts Cups. By providing allergen-friendly products that put a smile on your face, we hope you’ll be inspired to pour some goodness forward. Join our Good Karma movement and find additional inspiration by connecting with us online at goodkarmafoods.com, and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Contact Dean Foods: Corporate Communications, Jamaison Schuler, +1-214-721-7766, email@example.com; or Investor Relations, Sherri Baker, +1-214-303-3438
Contact Good Karma Foods: Elexis Schroder, +1-720-352-3961, firstname.lastname@example.org
2x Partners announced today:
We could not be more excited to have recently partnered with D to further accelerate growth of the innovative D’s Naturals products. The first step here was helping D to begin to build out the team with A+ talent like Chris Hickey. We are thrilled to welcome Chris to the No Cow revolution.
See a message that D recently shared with the team:
I’m excited to share that Chris Hickey has joined me as the CEO of D’s Naturals. As many of you know, I recently took in an investment from 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners and the 301 INC team at General Mills. A big part of that was to help with the things I couldn’t do entirely on my own, as I was practically operating as a one-man army. Bringing on someone as talented as Chris is just the first of many accomplishments we’ll have together, and allows me to finally focus on transitioning the company from a product to a platform. I’m pumped to be working alongside Chris, as we create a No Cow revolution!
Most recently, Chris was the CEO of The Isopure Company which he grew from $50MM to $100MM in 3 years and led a successful exit to Glanbia plc. Previous to that, Chris spent the last 12 years in the health and wellness space, having started his Marketing and General Management career at General Mills working on brands like Total cereal and Fiber One. Outside of his extremely successful track record, Chris brings along his electrifying passion and extreme grit, which are just a couple of the rare yet essential traits he possesses.
Founder, D’s Naturals
513-404-6494 | email@example.com | www.dnaturals.com
1526 Blake Street, Suite 200, Denver, CO 80202
About D’s Naturals
Created by Daniel Katz at only 18-years old, D’s Naturals was founded on a mission to redefine natural nutrition with its line of plant-based foods designed to fuel an active lifestyle. Made with simple ingredients like brown rice and pea protein, No Cow protein bars and Fluffbutter protein-infused nut butters are vegan, non-GMO, and free of gluten, dairy, lactose and soy. Products are available nationally at Vitamin Shoppe, GNC, CVS, local fitness centers serviced by Europa Sports as well as on Amazon and the company website. To learn more please visit www.myNoCow.com.
20-year-old Entrepreneur Creates Revolutionary Plant-Based Products & Attracts Prominent Private Equity and Strategic Investors
DENVER, CO (February 28, 2017) – D’s Naturals, creator of the innovative, low sugar plant-based No Cow protein bars and the low sugar protein-infused nut butters, Fluffbutter, today announced it has received a significant investment from 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners (2x Partners), a leading private equity investor in the emerging consumer products space, and 301 INC, the new business development and venturing unit of General Mills. The collaboration with 2x Partners and General Mills will help to provide the resources the company needs for its next stage of growth. Terms of the investment, which was led by 2x Partners, were not disclosed.
D’s Naturals was founded in 2015 by the then 18-year-old serial entrepreneur and fitness enthusiast Daniel Katz (“D”) after realizing he had a dairy sensitivity, a problem plaguing a significant portion of the population. After failing to find a plant-based protein bar that was low in sugar on the market, D began developing the No Cow bar. D’s passion and drive to succeed resulted in countless nights spent in the office, with D opting for an air mattress on the office floor instead of at home. In less than two years, D has grown the company to nearly $10 million in revenue and gained national distribution in over 10,000 retail locations.
“My mission is to create low sugar, plant-based products that fuel an active lifestyle and offer more options to people living with dietary restrictions or choosing to eat more plant-based foods,” said Katz. “I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish in the last two years, but I’m even more excited for what’s to come. I look forward to working with 2x Partners and the 301 INC team at General Mills as we create a No Cow revolution.”
The flagship No Cow bar delivers at least 20 grams of plant-based protein per bar with only 1 gram of sugar. In addition, the bars are dairy free, soy free, gluten free, vegan and non-GMO, and come in a variety of flavors such as Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Raspberry Truffle, Blueberry Cobbler and Lemon Meringue Pie. Similarly, Fluffbutter is made with simple ingredients like brown rice and pea proteins, infused into an almond or peanut butter spread. Fluffbutter contains 1 gram or less of sugar per serving is free of dairy, soy, gluten and GMOs and comes in flavors ranging from Vanilla Maple Frosting to Creamy Chocolate S’mores.
“D’s Naturals is a true innovator among performance food products. We’re incredibly excited to partner with D and 301 INC to help maximize success,” said Andy Whitman, Managing Partner at 2x Partners.
John Haugen, Vice President and General Manager of 301 INC added, “We are impressed with how much D has been able to accomplish for his emerging brand over the past two years. No Cow bars offer consumers a convenient way to access nutrient-rich, plant-based proteins, which is gaining more and more consumer interest. We’re eager to help him take his business to the next level.”
D’s Naturals is available nationally at more than 10,000 retail locations including Vitamin Shoppe, GNC, CVS, local fitness centers serviced by Europa Sports as well as on Amazon and the company website (www.myNoCow.com).
Houlihan Lokey provided financial guidance to D in this transaction.
About D’s Naturals
Created by Daniel Katz at only 18-years old, D’s Naturals was founded on a mission to redefine natural nutrition with its line of plant-based foods designed to fuel an active lifestyle. Made with simple ingredients like brown rice and pea protein, No Cow protein bars and Fluffbutter protein-infused nut butters are vegan, non-GMO, and free of gluten, dairy, lactose and soy. Products are available nationally at Vitamin Shoppe, GNC, CVS, local fitness centers serviced by Europa Sports as well as on Amazon and the company website. To learn more please visit www.myNoCow.com
Examiner.com (20,460,428 visitors per month)— Beanitos is included in a story titled “The easiest, tastiest, gluten-free Big Game bites.” Beanitos’ Original Black Bean and Restaurant Style are included as perfect pairings in a Queso recipe! The story was also included on the editor’s personal blog, CheapEasyGlutenFree.com (obtaining visitors per month).
Blue Dog Bakery Group, Inc. (“Blue Dog Bakery”) has received a substantial investment from 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners (“2x Partners”). Andrew Whitman, Managing Partner at 2x Partners, has joined the company’s board and will work closely with CEO Kyle Polanski and the management team to continue to build upon the success of the business. Eric Haddenhorst co-led the effort with Whitman and will be a Board Observer.
Based in Seattle, WA, Blue Dog Bakery is a leading producer of premium, all-natural pet treats sold primarily in the conventional grocery and mass merchandiser channels. The Company has experienced rapid growth since it was founded in 1998, and Blue Dog Bakery has become one of the largest and fastest growing brands in the pet treat category within its core channels.
For more information, please visit www.bluedogbakery.com.
Forbes.com(22,653,100 visitors per month). The article highlights the “hottest natural foods fueling today’s fastest growing companies,” and Beanitos was featured as one of the healthy snacks that frequent Silicon Valley’s break rooms. They are described as “real food” and “full of crunchy flavor.”
MarthaStewart.com (11,002,040 visitors per month). The article titled “Healthy Tailgating Ideas Your Crowd Will Be Pumped For” shares healthier store bought tailgating food options that can be embellished at home. The Beanitos Simply Pinto Bean is highlighted as a healthy way to serve bruschetta.
2x Consumer Products Growth Partners and Rustic Canyon/Fontis Partners To Exit Tasty Bite Investment
Kagome to acquire leading ethnic food brand
Chicago, IL and Pasadena, CA – 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners (“2x Partners”) and Rustic Canyon/Fontis Partners (“RC/Fontis”) are set to exit their investments in Preferred Brands International, Inc. An announcement was made simultaneously to the Nikkei and Bombay stock exchanges that Kagome Co., Ltd. (TYO: 2811), a large Japanese food and beverage company, will acquire majority interest in Preferred Brands. Management will continue to own a significant minority interest following the transaction, which is subject to customary regulatory approvals and is expected to close in May, 2015.
Based in Stamford, CT, with manufacturing in Pune, India, Preferred Brands is a leading manufacturer and marketer of Indian entrées, Asian noodles and ethnic inspired organic rice products under the TASTY BITE brand. During the term of the investments from 2x Partners (invested in 2010) and RC/Fontis (initially invested in 2008 as the first institutional money into the Company), the Company’s revenue approximately doubled and tripled respectively while profitability growth exceeded revenue growth in all cases.
“Pending regulatory approval, we will be pleased to see a global industry leader like Kagome take Tasty Bite to the next level,” said Andrew Whitman, Managing Partner at 2x Partners. Adds Renée LaBran, Managing Partner at RC/Fontis, “We have tremendous respect for the Tasty Bite team, and expect that the company will thrive under their continued leadership and the guidance of Kagome.”
LaBran and Managing Partner Gabrielle Greene-Sulzberger led the investment from RCF and were supported by their partner Danny Villanueva. The 2x Partners team included Whitman and Vice President Kim Anne Starke and were supported by Managing Partner Sharon Kieffer, Vice President Mike Apostal and several of the firm’s Industry Venture Partners.
Barclays acted as exclusive financial advisor to Preferred Brands. The Giannuzzi Group, LLP and Horwood Marcus & Berk Chartered provided legal counsel to the Company and the investors respectively.
2x Consumer Products Growth Partners Announces Spinoff of Molio from Orabrush
New Video Marketing Company Attracts $3 Million in Series A Funding Led by Greycroft Partners
Today is an exciting day in the history of Orabrush as 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners (“2x Partners”) and the Company formally announce the launch of Molio: the separate company formed recently to take the Orabrush “Reverse Marketing Model” to the next level. “As the first institutional investor in Orabrush, we saw a highly differentiated product and a very different go-to-market model,” says Andrew Whitman – Managing Partner with 2x Partners. “With high demand for the online marketing technologies and YouTube video capabilities that powered Orabrush, spinning off Molio was a logical and exciting next step.” Molio’s proven ad technology model has built two multi-million dollar online brands and launches with ten brand partners.
Looking back, the 2x Partners team met with the founders of Orabrush on a crisp early winter day in 2009. It was the beginning of an exciting year … learning about the fantastic business, introducing the founders to two Angel investors and Jeff Davis, an industry executive from P&G who subsequently joined the Company as CEO. A year later 2x Partners invested in Orabrush.
With outside technology investors led by Greycroft Partners, Molio is well staged for the future. 2x Partners continues to be a strong supporter and shareholder in Molio.
Please visit www.Molio.com to learn more.
About 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners
2x Consumer Products Growth Partners joins with founders and management in emerging consumer products businesses capable of growing exponentially via an infusion of capital and management expertise. Focus areas include food, beverage, personal care, home care and pet care – particularly in the organic/natural, specialty/gourmet and ethnic sectors. Businesses are primarily within the $2-25 million revenue range. Visit www.2xPartners.com to learn more about 2x Partners and the partner companies including Beanitos bean-based snacks, gDiapers eco-friendly diapers, MegaFood/INNATE RESPONSE whole food supplements, Orabrush bad breath eliminators and Tasty Bite Indian- and pan-Asian foods.
About Molio, Inc.
Molio (www.Molio.com) is a video marketing ad technology and branding company. Molio reaches audiences in a unique way, resulting in brands having more exposure and industry-leading results. Using an integrated approach that blends content creation, video optimization and media placement on YouTube with proprietary advertising software, Molio creates hyper-targeted campaigns that yield high levels of awareness, engagement and conversion to build brands online.
2x Consumer Products Growth Partners Exits FoodState Investment
Pharmavite, LLC acquires MegaFood® and INNATE RESPONSE™ brands
Chicago, IL – 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners (“2x Partners”) has sold its investment in FoodState, Inc. to Pharmavite, LLC, one of the largest U.S. manufacturers of high-quality vitamins, minerals and dietary supplements under the Nature Made® brand. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.
Based in Derry, NH, FoodState is a leading manufacturer and marketer of whole food nutritional supplements under the MegaFood® and INNATE RESPONSE™ brands sold in the natural grocery and practitioner channels, respectively.
During the 3+ years 2x Partners was invested in FoodState (in partnership with co-investor The Riverside Company), “we helped recruit significant senior management talent largely from our network and partnered actively with the team,” said Andrew Whitman, Managing Partner at 2x Partners. By investing heavily in marketing, sales and manufacturing infrastructure, the Company nearly doubled in size while maintaining very attractive profit margins.
“I will truly miss working with 2x Partners,” said Robert Craven, CEO at FoodState. “They were thoughtful & creative partners. Without their support and industry expertise I am certain we would not have had the success we are now enjoying.”
“We are very proud of what the FoodState team accomplished, how 2x Partners helped contribute to this exponential growth and the strong working partnership we had with the Riverside team,” said Whitman. “Pharmavite is a great strategic fit for the Company, and the acquisition yields a very attractive return to our valued Limited Partners.”
Managing Partner Sharon Kieffer, Industry Venture Partner Bob Burke (FoodState board member) and Vice Presidents Michael Apostal and Kim Anne Starke rounded out the FoodState-related investment & operating team from 2x Partners.
Jones Day (legal) and Imperial Capital (investment bankers) represented Riverside and 2x Partners.
About 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners
2x Consumer Products Growth Partners joins with founders and management in emerging consumer products businesses capable of growing exponentially via an infusion of capital and management expertise. Focus areas include food, beverage, personal care, home care and pet care – particularly in the organic/natural, specialty/gourmet and ethnic sectors. Businesses are primarily within the $2-25 million revenue range. Visit www.2xpartners.com to learn more about 2x Partners and the partner companies including Beanitos bean-based snacks, gDiapers eco-friendly diapers, Orabrush bad breath eliminators and Tasty Bite Indian- and pan-Asian foods.
The Seaweed Bath Co. has received a substantial growth capital investment led by 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners (“2x Partners”). Sharon Kieffer, Managing Partner at 2x Partners, has joined the company’s board and will work closely with Founder/CEO Adam Grossman to continue to grow The Seaweed Bath Co. Joining the efforts are two Industry Venture Partners at 2x Partners: Shekhar Mitra (former SVP, Global Corporate Research & Development for Procter & Gamble’s beauty and personal care businesses) and Gil Pritchard (3-time natural products industry CEO with substantial exits including Avalon Natural Products).
Located in Austin, TX, The Seaweed Bath Co. is a rapidly growing innovator in the natural personal care sector. The Company was founded as a result of Adam’s personal journey to find a natural skin solution to his extreme psoriasis. He discovered the detoxifying powers of seaweed to nourish and soothe sensitive and irritated skin. The Seaweed Bath Co. brings these efficacious benefits which seaweed provides to natural hair, skin and bath categories.
For more information, please visit www.seaweedbathco.com.
2x Consumer Products Growth Partners (“2x Partners”) has made a substantial minority investment in Good Karma Foods, Inc. Sharon Kieffer and Kim Anne Starke, Managing Partner and Vice President respectively, led the efforts for 2x Partners. They will partner with Dan LaValley (retiring CEO) and Doug Radi (new CEO) to continue the growth of Good Karma.
Now based in Boulder, CO, Good Karma is among the fastest growing businesses in the non-dairy beverage space. The company’s flagship Good Karma flaxmilk is a highly differentiated non-dairy beverage with a unique nutritional profile and great taste that is closer to dairy cow’s milk than many other options. Good Karma is broadly available in the natural channel and rapidly expanding its distribution into conventional grocery stores.
For more information, please visit www.goodkarmafoods.com.
2x Consumer Products Growth Partners (“2x Partners”) recently closed its second consumer products-focused growth equity fund. The firm’s second fund received commitments from nearly 90% of the limited partners in its debut fund and were joined by several prominent new investors. Returning and new LPs include:
- Many current and former consumer products entrepreneurs and executives
- Institutional investors
- Large single- or multi-family offices in the US and Latin America
- 2x Partners’ Industry Venture Partners Mark Baum, Bob Burke, Steve Hill, Shekhar Mitra, Bruce Nierenberg, Gil Pritchard, Don Roland and Tom Simone
Fund II will follow the same investment strategy as the firm’s first fund by partnering with rapidly growing consumer brands in the food, beverage, pet care, personal care and home care categories. Businesses are primarily within the $2-25 million revenue range.
2x Partners delivers superior returns by leveraging the firm’s unique operational expertise, which includes more than 400 years of cross-functional operating experience with industry leading consumer firms such as Kraft, Pepsi, Proctor & Gamble and Clorox, as well as with more than 100 emerging consumer brands. 2x Partners’ investment strategy has proven successful with 5 of its last 6 exits to strategic acquirers. Notable realized investments include MegaFood whole food supplements (acquired by Pharmavite), Orabrush innovative tongue cleaners (acquired by DenTek), Tasty Bite all-natural Indian and Pan-Asian foods (acquired by Kagome) and Wellness all-natural pet food (acquired by Berwind; pre-Fund I).
The 2x Partners team, led by Managing Partners Sharon Kieffer and Andy Whitman, is actively seeking new opportunities to partner with emerging CPG brands of the future. Visit www.2xpartners.com to learn more about 2x Partners and the firm’s partner companies.
Pet strollers, treadmills for dogs: A visit to the world’s largest pet trade show.
Americans spent a record $56 billion on their pets in 2013, and the largest pet trade show on the planet offered quite the punch when it came to new products for the furry members of the family. TODAY’s Jill Rappaport reports.
The 25 Most Influential Kingmakers in Consumer and Retailer Companies
10.29.2013: Earlier this year, we put together a list of the 25 most innovative consumer and retail companies —the CircleUp 25. Today we are releasing the CircleUp Kingmakers – 25 of the most influential “kingmakers” in consumer and retail. They are men and women whose names repeatedly arise in conversations with industry experts and consumer companies large and small. In researching this article, I talked with consumer and retail entrepreneurs, public consumer and retail companies, private equity firms, angel investors, and service providers including distributors, marketing firms and consumer focused consulting firms. And they are those men and women who in our opinion at CircleUp deserve to be included among the inaugural CircleUp Kingmakers.
Tech has its own lists of influential power players. Until now, there has not been an equivalent list in consumer and retail. We are including more than investors alone in the CircleUp Kingmakers, however, because in our industry kingmakers are more than just investors. They are connectors, brilliant thinkers, visionaries and retailers and investors-extraordinaire. And each of these traits plays into the ability to lead a brand to success. Every person on this list excels in one or more of these categories. Undoubtedly, there are countless others who excel similarly in these areas and who deserve to be mentioned in a list of this sort. Unfortunately, we have chosen to limit those honored to 25. – Ryan Caldbeck
#8. Andy Whitman, Managing Partner
2x Consumer Product Growth Partners
2x Consumer Product Growth Partners helps emerging, branded consumer product companies achieve their potential by bringing deep industry expertise and a capital infusion. Andy and team focus on food, beverage, personal care, home care and pet care companies generally with $2-25 million in revenue in the organic/natural, specialty/gourmet and ethnic sectors. 2x Partners has played a critical role in developing companies like Beanitos healthy chips, MegaFood whole food supplements, Orabrush tongue cleaners, Tasty Bite Indian foods and gDiapers eco-friendly diapers. Andy founded 2x Partners following his career with General Foods and Kraft Foods. At Kraft, he demonstrated his talent for growing the smaller brands that had not grown or been run profitably previously. Before raising the 2x Partners growth capital fund, he co-invested with Catterton Partners and helped grow Wellness pet food and Old Mother Hubbard pet treats into one of the largest CPG exits in the last decade.
Orabrush CEO Jeff Davis featured in a live interview on Bloomberg TV.
Special limited edition gPants seen below gets rave review from UK’s Daily Mail.
Prince Charles has long been an outspoken campaigner on environmental issues, and has discussed the responsibility he feels at the prospect of becoming a grandfather and handing ‘an increasingly dysfunctional world’ on to his grandchildren.
So he’ll be thrilled to hear that gNappies, the ‘eco-dorable’ brand of planet-hugging baby nappy, has created a limited edition regal variety. Perfect for tiny royal bottoms. And just in time for the impending birth of HRH The Baby of Cambridge.
And Kate and William’s baby would certainly look the part in gNappies’ gRegal gPants, made from plush purple velour and decorated with the company’s small embroidered ‘g’.
MegaFood Blood Builder, Wild Blueberry, Magnesium, Calcium, and Calcium Magnesium and Potassium whole food supplement products have received the Non-GMO Project VERIFIED seal from the Non-GMO Project, which is a third party certification program that assures a product has been produced according to consensus-based best practices for GMO (genetically modified organism) avoidance. Additionally, the Non-GMO Project has recognized the FoodState manufacturing facility, where the MegaFood products are made, as a certified handler of non-GMO materials and products.
Supermarket Guru Phil Lempert says Beanitos new Restaurant Style (white bean) chips a hit!
Examiner.com, a top 100 website with 37 million unique visitors a month, gave Orapup five stars.
See the high profile review at
FROM WALL STREET JOURNAL – February 25, 2013, 11:00 AM ET
By Timothy Hay
Is Orabrush a small-town company that makes tongue scrapers, or a digital marketing guru that has blazed new trails in e-commerce brand-building?
The company says it is both, and this week will extend its strange business model even further with the launch of a new product–and accompanying YouTube channel–aimed at ameliorating dogs’ stinky breath.
If the new channel, Orapup, performs like the company’s first YouTube endeavor, it will prove that big budgets and high-production values are sometimes no match for a few creative people sitting around together in a room–even if that room is in Provo, Utah, a town known less for tinseltown glamor than for Brigham Young University and a Mormon missionary-training center.
That channel, used to promote the company’s tongue scrapers for human, easily brushed past sponsored channels created by Apple, Walt Disney and other household names, and now boasts some 53 million views.
The efforts of the small company’s marketing department–later augmented by reams of user-submitted videos–pushed sales of the tongue scraper for humans through the roof, he added.
Now Orabrush has developed a tongue scraper for dogs, and has asked its marketing department–12 or so people who are 30 and under–to once again work that magic.
The dog-related tongue-scraping channel has been up for a few months, and the early signs are encouraging, the CEO said.
The Orapup tongue scraper is designed in such a way that the pet owner merely holds it out, and the dog cleans its own tongue by thoroughly licking the gadget. The set-up has opened the gate to a practically unlimited number of cute videos that can be uploaded by the company or the users.
“We use a reverse-marketing model. We create awareness online, then think about distribution second,” Davis said, adding that this week the company will begin distributing.
At the company–which is one part tongue-scraper design company, one part indie film studio–optimism about the new venture is running high.
“Pet owners are awesome,” the CEO said.
Write to Timothy Hay at firstname.lastname@example.org
Coming out of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE), the world’s largest annual meeting of food and nutrition professionals, Huffington Post identified the top five food trends spotted at FNCE 2012.
Over 8,000 registered dietitians, nutrition researchers, policymakers, health-care providers and industry leaders attend this four-day event. Each day is packed with research, educational presentations, lectures, debates, panel discussions and culinary demonstrations.
The expo portion of the event draws more than 350 food- and nutrition-related exhibitors. It’s here that new products and innovations are launched and food trends come to life.
I wish I knew about Tasty Bite in college. A microwavable, totally vegetarian, and actually tasty convenience food that doesn’t even require a fridge? Yes, this would have made those long work nights far more pleasant. And with takes on Indian classics like dal and vegetable curries that don’t shy away from genuine spicing, they’re among the tastier pouched convenience foods out there.
At about $3.29 each, a single-serving Tasty Bite pouch is pricier than packaged ramen. But it’s even easier to prepare, and tastes nourishing, not just like a cocktail of salt, flavor chemicals, and preservatives. Tasty Bite ingredient lists are easy to read—for the most part they’re just vegetables, legumes, spices, and the occasional dose of dairy.
The Connecticut-based company currently offers about 30 pouched products, mostly heat-and-eat “entrées,” but also microwavable grain dishes and “meal inspirations,” mildly seasoned ingredients like chickpeas that are fully cooked and ready to add to a larger meal. So which ones are the best? We found out the only way we could—by trying them all.
You can see our tasting notes for every pouch in the slideshow above, but here are our general findings to keep in mind:
- Good grains: There are more cost-effective ways to buy grains like rice and millet in bulk, but we were impressed by the texture and earthy flavor of the grain-based pouches.
- Lentils, chickpeas, and peas win: Score one for legumes—all three are generally well flavored with creamy textures. We didn’t love every pouch based on these ingredients (there are many), but it’s a decent indicator of success.
- Paneer and spinach, less so: We’re big paneer fans, and were saddened by the mostly bland and/or rubbery iterations we encountered here. The spinach dishes, for the most part, are overwhelmed by the vegetable’s mineral flavor.
- Thick sauces are preferable to thin: Thin curries have their places, but not with Tasty Bite. Thicker sauces were more flavorful, and had a more pleasing texture than the thinner ones.
- Tastiness has no correlation to calories: Tasty Bites range from 200 to 500 calories per pouch.* I was half-expecting our favorite pouches to align with the fattiest of the lot: the ones with doses of oil, nut pastes, or cream. But that just wasn’t so. Generous spicing and clean-tasting grains won us over more than anything else.
* The nutritional information lists a serving as half a pouch, but let’s be real: a single pouch is a single serving.
Our favorites of the bunch? A gentle but assertively spiced Chana Masala, creamy Punjab Eggplant that balances its slow-burn heat with onion sweetness, mild and sweet Vegetable Korma, and nutty Jaipur Vegetables. Pair any of them with Ginger Lentil Rice, Barley Medley, or Zany Multigrain (we know) and you have what we’re happy to call dinner.
FAIRFIELD COUNTY BUSINESS JOURNAL
Business Journal contributor Brad Scheller recently sat down for a conversation with Ashok Vasudevan, CEO and founder of Tasty Bite (Preferred Brands International L.L.C.), about leading and growing an international food company.
The company, which is based in Stamford and does business as Tasty Bite Preferred Brands International, markets 39 entrees, sauces, rice varieties and meal inspirations — all of which are sold in major grocery chains across the U.S. and worldwide.
The following are excerpts of their conversation.
Scheller: How did your company get its start?
Vasudevan: “The idea actually began when I was an executive at Pepsi. It was a project born out of necessity as one of several ways for Pepsi to discharge its export obligations for its right to doing business in India. Later, when India liberalized its regulations and lifted these conditions, there was no reason for Pepsi to engage in these crazy activities which weren’t core to their business and an opportunity door opened. We saw this opportunity at the center of three mega trends: health and natural foods becoming more popular, convenience foods becoming more important and the desire for choice and variety in foods expanding as our international palates evolve.”
Talk about the challenges of running a global company.
“Culture is a big challenge. We operate in three countries – Australia, India and the U.S. — and the cultures in the three are quite different. The U.S. culture is to be direct. The Aussies tend to a small English penchant for elocution and the Indians have a certain way of saying no. It’s almost impolite to say to no, but it’s implied. Word choice and meaning of words are a big challenge. Take for example a simple saying like ‘I don’t care.’ In the U.S. it means you have a choice, either way is fine, I don’t care. From an Indian perspective, ‘I don’t care’ is an obnoxious thing to say. It literally means I don’t care – about you. It’s rude. So you can’t say that I don’t care. You say I’m indifferent to the outcome or the choice you make. You decide.”
What are the most important leadership lessons you’ve learned over the years?
“Eyes on, hands off when you can. I think of leadership and followership as almost the same thing which is a bit non-intuitive at first. I think of good leaders as first being good followers. If you hire people who are smarter than yourself this is a very important thing. I think I’ve been immensely successful in one thing – everybody on the senior leadership team is way smarter than I am. I have no hesitation in saying that — whether it’s their quality of education, experience or their expertise. So if you’re successful in doing that as a ‘leader,’ your first job is to be a good follower. And that you do if you keep your eyes on and your hands off.”
How do you think about failure in your organization?
“We talk about empowerment. We don’t say empowerment is the right to make decisions. We say that empowerment is the right for you to make the wrong decision. Empowerment is your right to make a mistake. Then you are truly empowered. Anybody can be in power as long as they continually make good decisions. The point is you don’t. You make mistakes. And if you make mistakes and you’re bitten you hesitate the next time. So we say empowerment is your ability to make a mistake and not get called on it. We learn from it by questioning the assumptions behind that decision.”
Let’s talk about hiring. How do you do it?
“We think of it as a triangle — education, experience and expertise. We have a job description for every job. The major aspects of the job, the objectives for each job and the tasks required for each job. Whether we brief a recruiter or internally, it is very clear what criteria we are looking for.
“When we begin looking at the people, we look at each of those three points on the triangle. The values we place on education here are disproportionate to the others. There is a bias towards high quality education. Second is experience: We like and value large corporate experience and entrepreneurial experience. The third area is expertise. We need domain expertise. Can you hold a training class on that subject? Are you an expert?”
How do you motivate your employees?
“We are big into awards. Anybody here can sponsor an award. It can be within a function, it can be cross-functional or it can be cross-company. And anybody can nominate anybody for an award. Our theory is that people feel good not only when they are awarded, people feel as good when they are the ‘awarder.’ You want to transform incentives from receiving the award to giving the award. This gives you a certain sense of well being. We encourage people to nominate at any point in time.”
THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE
Oct 03 2012 09:32 am
Orabrush Inc. is launching another product — a tongue cleaner for dogs.
The Provo-based company caused an online sensation a couple of years ago when it dressed up a scruffy-looking guy as a giant tongue to promote what was then its only product — a brush that could be used to clean the bacteria off a person’s tongue to prevent bad breath.
It’s new product, dubbed Orapup, follows along the same line.
“Soon after we launched Orabrush in 2009, many of our customers began asking when a version would be available for their dogs,” Jeff Davis, CEO of Orabrush, said in a statement. “The Orapup has been near to the heart of our founder [Robert “Dr. Bob” Wagstaff] for some time, and was a natural addition to the product line.”
The new product, according to the company, combines soft pointed bristles with four in-line scrapers, which collect and remove bacteria from a dog’s tongue. A formula to help prevent gum disease and reduce tartar is applied to the surface of the Orapup to entice dogs to lick the brush, allowing them to clean their own tongues.
Orabrush said its new product, which will retail for around $15, is scheduled to hit store shelves early next year.
VITAMIN RETAILER, September 2012
MegaFood (Derry, NH) and Dr. Andrew Weil have entered into a partnership to bring science-based educational programs and products to natural products retailers and their customers.
“MegaFood’s attention to detail, passion for wellness and commitment to science and quality in bringing ingredients from whole foods to a supplement line are all reasons why I decided to partner with them,” said Weil. “Many of their supplements are already in line with my recommendations, so it is a good fit.”
Some of the projects currently in the works include the development of new supplements for men, women and children.Weil and Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, chief medical officer for Weil Lifestyle (Phoenix, AZ), are working as direct advisors to MegaFood’s supplement formulations.An educational program for retailers based on Weil’s latest book, Spontaneous Happiness, is also in the queue to be launched at Expo West 2013.
“We believe that education is the sound foundation upon which great relationships are built in this industry,” said Robert U. Craven, CEO of MegaFood.“Our partnership with Weil Lifestyle will help fill in the information gap between manufacturers and retailers and, more importantly, retailers and their customers.”
MegaFood will not be launching any products carrying Weil’s name or image. Craven said it is a mutual goal of MegaFood and Weil Lifestyle to maintain individual brand credibility while working together with a shared vision for an integrative approach to health.
FROM IDEA MENSCH
Jason Graham-Nye, Co-Founder of gDiapers
Australian-born and the co-founder and CEO of gDiapers, Jason Graham-Nye, has turned his commitment to making the planet greener and healthier into an environmentally friendly hybrid diaper company. One diaper, two options: reusable cloth and a biodegradable disposable. Graham-Nye launched gDiapers with his wife Kim in 2005, and has been nurturing the company into a growing success every year since.
Sharon Kieffer – Managing Partner, 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners – today was named among the Top Women in Grocery by Progressive Grocer. Leveraging a 20+ year career as a successful innovator and business builder in consumer packaged goods, she was recognized for her work in building the brands of the future through an combination of industry expertise and capital infusion.
Prior to joining 2x Partners, Sharon was an executive at PepsiCo and Kraft Foods where she leveraged her strong consumer and business insights to create and build over $2 billion of new CPG businesses around the globe. Most notably she worked to launch Aquafina and Starbucks ready to drink beverages in the US and expand the Philadelphia and Kraft cheese brands into new categories internationally. Today, she is focused on working alongside entrepreneurs to help create the next generation of differentiated and high growth CPG businesses.
Sharon began her marketing career in advertising at Leo Burnett, working on personal care and paper businesses. She spent the next 18+ years rising through the ranks in Marketing and Innovation at Kraft Foods, Fort James and PepsiCo. Most recently, Sharon was the VP of Global Innovation at PepsiCo where she led disruptive innovation efforts for the Quaker brand and Global Nutrition Group around the world. Sharon received both a B.B.A. and an M.B.A from the University of Wisconsin.
She enjoys spending time with her husband and twin boys and pursuing her passions of athletics, the outdoors and health and wellness. She is an avid Badger and Packer fan, has completed two marathons, biked through Italy and enjoys hiking whenever possible.
We’re regularly asked “what should we show investors”? While there’s no one answer, we’d suggest having:
(1) One page exec summary – see an example in the Entrepreneur Resources section of our website
(2) Short powerpoint that “tells the story” … Guy Kawasaki does a great job talking to his 10/20/30 rule: ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes and contain no font smaller than thirty points. See http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2005/12/the_102030_rule.html for more details. Well said Guy!
(3) Detailed bottoms-up (vs. “there’s a billion people in the addressable market and we can get 0.5%, so ….) financial model in excel.
(Please don’t ever send anyone a PDF of a model – it defeats the purpose of being able to see the assumptions etc.)
(4) OPTIONAL – and more for your use than investors in our opinion – a detailed biz plan in word format. Keep it <30 pages including summary of the financials etc. But it’s place to play out all your details and assumptions. Often, it’s a way a founder can see the gaps in their own plan that might not be obvious in a shorter PPT.
And, if you’re interested in a deep dive, there’s a great workshop coming up. There’s nothing in it for us … but we know what great reviews these workshops get. And, first time they’re being done in Chicago. Check out http://www.naturalconsulting.com/seminars/finance-seminar-networking-event.
May 21, 2012
We’ve all spent a sleepless night channel surfing at 3a.m. Flicking around at that hour, you’re sure to come across an infomercial for a Revolutionary Floor Cleaner or an Abs-of-Steel Machine urging you to be one of the first 500 callers and get a free set of steak knives. Bolstered by breathless, off-their-meds hosts, these feature-length commercials are wildly profitable. (Americans bought more than $91 billion worth of products hawked on TV in 2011). Now Orabrush, a 20-person company based in Utah, is using that formula to become the QVC of YouTube.
The Orabrush, as you might have guessed from the picture, is a tongue scraper. Invented by Dr. Bob Wagstaff, the product is essentially a modified toothbrush with a wider head. While it may be effective in scraping bacteria and other gunk off your tongue to cure bad breath, it’s not an easy sell. Dr. Wagstaff tried to hawk it for eight years, spent $40,000 on a slick TV infomercial, and sold about 100 units.
Frustrated by his lack of traction, Wagstaff visited a class of MBA students to get new marketing ideas.
One student, Jeffrey Harmon, argued that the Orabrush should be marketed on the web. Wagstaff disagreed, but still paid Harmon $500 to produce a video to test his hypothesis. Over a hundred YouTube videos later, Harmon heads up the marketing team that has helped Orabrush sell 2.1 million units and land national retail distribution at Walmart.
This tiny company with a single wince-inducing product has more online viewers than P&G, Crest and every other product in the oral care category, combined.
With crowdfunding and access to production services, it has never been easier to bring a product to market. But that ease also creates noise and competition. As Dr. Wagstaff’s experience proves, many inventors fail to consider marketing until it’s too late.
Shooting a quirky video for your product doesn’t ensure it will go viral. “Only one in a 1,000 videos go viral,” Harmon says, “and even people who have had viral videos can’t usually repeat them.”
Only one in a 1,000 videos go viral, Harmon says.
So what was Orabrush’s secret sauce? Harmon offered a few tips:
Inventors should make videos that tell compelling stories about their product and experiment with different approaches until sales improve. Orabrush tested video formats that included technical demonstrations and other, more surreal fare.
One series was a soap opera starring Morgan “The Foul-Mouthed Tongue” who was constantly alienating potential love interests with his surly attitude and horrible halitosis. This cheeky, low-budget series starring a guy in a foam rubber suit generated 300 percent more views than all of the high-budget commercials on the supposedly youth-focused, YouTube friendly Mountain Dew channel.
Don’t underestimate the optimization process. Orabrush videos look casual, but take days to write and shoot, and often require months of refinements, edits and testing before they go live.
This high barrier to entry gives creatives a huge advantage. It’s relatively easy for entrepreneurs to experiment with pay-per-click or banner ads, but making a video requires specialized skills.
Forget the focus group. Use your video channel to find out what customers think. Hundreds of Orabrush users have posted testimonials on YouTube that provide the team with constant feedback and video footage of their product in use.
This wealth of customer data has led to a number of product improvements. For example, the bristle pad was originally white, because Dr. Wagstaff thought dental tools should look sterile, but that made it hard to see the gunk — the holy grail of obsessive oral hygiene. In response, Harmon introduced vibrantly colored bristles. The gunk now took center stage, making the product seem more effective.
YouTube is the new cable. Top stars on YouTube get more views on each of their uploads than Jay Leno or Conan O’Brien get on TV. According to Harmon, a respectable cable TV channel has approximately 400,000 viewers who watch regularly. Orabrush gets 185,000 — for a tongue scraper.
In other words, if you’re building a product or are part of a company that’s preparing to launch one, your marketing plan should set its sights one thing only: earning the badge “As Seen on YouTube.”
Wow. What an endorsement! See midway through the segment (starting @ 2:45) at
In his first year as CEO, Robert Craven is bringing new energy to MegaFood—and riding a wave of growing consumer demand for supplements that act more like food. What are the biggest challenges in the category?
Read the interview at
For the mother-to-be
In the past few months we’ve received lots of reader requests for a goop issue on pregnancy, and so we got to work on the subject. Below are all my essentials plus our most recent sources of inspiration for everything from wearable maternity clothing to putting together a nursery.
gDiapers: A ridiculously cute eco-friendly diaper system. Choose one or two outer layer diapers that you can use over and over again and then replace the inner layer with biodegradable refills or washable cloth inserts (both viable eco options). The diapers come in lots of great colors and patterns.
Drilling Down: What Small Businesses Should Know About Crowdfunding
Check out NY Times article. http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/09/drilling-down-what-small-businesses-should-know-about-crowdfunding
Check out George Deeb’s RED ROCKET BLOG overall and especially his TEN LESSONS post from this time year ago. Worth noting (or revisiting if you’ve seen it.
# 1: Drivers of Success for Startups. Do I have a Good Business Idea? http://redrocketvc.blogspot.com/2011_02_01_archive.html.
# 2: Building the Right Team for Your Start-Up. http://redrocketvc.blogspot.com/2011/03/lesson-2-building-right-team-for-your.html.
# 3: The Importance of Timing and Luck for Your Startup. http://redrocketvc.blogspot.com/2011/03/lesson-3-importance-of-timing-and-luck.html.
# 4: How to Raise Capital for Your Startup. http://redrocketvc.blogspot.com/2011/03/lesson-4-how-to-raise-capital-for-your.html.
# 5: Finding Angel Investors for Your Startup. http://redrocketvc.blogspot.com/2011/03/lesson-5-finding-angel-investors-for.html.
# 6: Structuring Strategic Partnerships for Your Startup. http://redrocketvc.blogspot.com/2011/03/lesson-6-structuring-strategic.html.
# 7: Key Components for Writing a Business Plan. http://redrocketvc.blogspot.com/2011/03/lesson-7-key-components-for-writing.html.
# 8: Startups Require Flexibility to Optimize Business Model. http://redrocketvc.blogspot.com/2011/03/lesson-8-startups-require-flexibility.html.
# 9: Spreading Equity to Key Employees and Partners. http://redrocketvc.blogspot.com/2011/03/lesson-9-spreading-equity-to-key.html.
#10: How Best to Approach VC’s or Angel Investors. http://redrocketvc.blogspot.com/2011_03_01_archive.html.
MegaFood was named one of the 5 brands to watch in 2012 by New Hope.
Orabrush was named one of 10 new products to watch for in 2012 by USA Today.
Gosh, I’m smart. That’s how the big consumer-packaged-goods players — from Procter & Gamble to Kraft to Kimberly-Clark — want you to feel about yourself for buying the new household products that they’ll be rolling out in 2012.
Some will try to make you feel smart for saving money. Some, for saving time. And some for being a tad ahead of the cultural curve. New products are the life blood of brands — making them even more crucial in a topsy-turvy economy. The goal in 2012 isn’t just to get you to buy the new product, but also to nudge you to very publicly gloat on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube about how savvy you were to make the purchase.
Not only is it free advertising, it’s the most effective kind. It’s where we increasingly go to find out about new products. The number of folks who turned to social media as a source to learn about new products more than doubled over just the past year — from 24% in 2010 to 49% in 2011, reports a new study by Sentient Decision Science for Schneider Public Relations.
“Smart is the ultimate weapon in social volleyball,” says trends spotter Marian Salzman. “It’s the new game people play, lobbing 140 characters here, there and everywhere.”
But the great race to catch the public’s fancy with a new food, drink or gadget will almost certainly have fewer entries next year. U.S. product introductions will likely shrink in 2012, projects Mintel, the research giant. They shrank in 2011, too, to about 37,600 vs. roughly 41,000 in 2010, Mintel reports.
In some cases, consumers will even be willing to spend more to get less. “But there must be a benefit that outweighs the ‘less-ness’ of the product,” says Lynn Dornblaser, new products guru at Mintel.
One thing’s for sure in 2012: Whatever you’re selling had better do what it claims to do. Or it’ll take social media heat.
The key trend-within-the-trend of 2012’s new products is this simple consumer demand of new product makers: Prove it. So says Dornblaser. “Companies must be crystal clear with consumers on everything,” she says.
At the same time, many products will continue to shrink. Companies can charge less for stripped-down products made with less material.
“Less is less,” says Tom Vierhile, innovation insights editor at Datamonitor, the research specialist.
Here are 10 key trends — and some products latching onto them — that appear to have potential to be hits in 2012:
#10: Weird hygiene. We have gotten used to wacky whitening strips and flavored fluoride rinses. But does the thought of brushing your tongue sound icky?
Get ready to brush.
A tiny brand called Orabrush last year rolled out via social media and caught fire, convincing millions to buy its $4.99 tongue-cleaning brush. Now, in 2012, it’s rolling out a companion Orabrush Tongue Foam that uses natural enzymes to rid the mouth of bacteria — and bad breath.
January 5, 2012 (Austin, TX and Chicago, IL) — Today, Beanitos brand bean chips announced a substantial investment by 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners (“2x Partners”) and Managing Partners Sharon Kieffer and Andy Whitman joined the company’s board of directors. In addition, Sweet Leaf Tea founder and former CEO Clayton Christopher has invested in Beanitos, Inc. and joined the board. Together they will leverage their expertise and work closely with Beanitos CEO Doug Foreman and the management team to build the business.
“It looks like the new year is off to a great start. We’re proud that the 2x Partners team is now on board with Beanitos,” says Foreman. “Their experience working with both Fortune 500 companies and savvy entrepreneurs will help Beanitos become a dominant marketplace brand that much faster. We’ve got a great product and now our resources and team are even stronger.”
Beanitos is a leader in the better-for-you snack category. According to SPINS, the leading provider of natural product industry data, Beanitos is the #1 growth brand in sales dollars and product volume in the corn chips, tortilla chips and all other snacks categories. Foreman says, “Beanitos launched in 2010 and our sales are already surpassing our original goals. Americans are looking to eat healthier and Beanitos is helping them do it.” Beanitos bean chips are made from whole pinto and black beans … and a 1.25 oz. bag packs a whopping 6 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber. All four flavors — Black Bean, Pinto Bean & Flax, Chipotle BBQ and Cheddar Cheese Pinto Bean — are gluten-free, corn-free, low glycemic and non-GMO.
“The 2x Partners team evaluates hundreds of companies a year, looking for branded consumer businesses that are both highly differentiated and have strong growth potential,” commented Kieffer. “We believe in Beanitos because of the product’s great taste, strong nutritional profile, sales and the management team’s successful track record in the better-for-you snack space. We’re looking forward to working with the management team in growing this exciting and innovative company.”
Terms of the investment were not disclosed.
Beanitos, Inc. produces and distributes Beanitos brand bean chips — great-tasting, natural and healthful snack chips. The company is dedicated to the research and development of delicious and innovative all-natural healthful food products centered on the powerfully nutritious yet humble legume. Beanitos is an Austin, Texas-based company, formed in 2009 by brothers Doug and Dave Foreman, who together have more than 60 years of food industry expertise, primarily focused on the better-for-you and natural snacks space. Learn more at www.Beanitos.com.
About 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners
2x Consumer Products Growth Partners joins with founders and management in emerging branded consumer products businesses capable of growing exponentially via an infusion of capital and industry expertise. The firm’s principals and industry venture partners have 375 years of combined experience, contacts and connections. Focus areas include food, beverage, personal care, home care and pet care — particularly in the organic/natural, specialty/gourmet and ethnic sectors. The firm or its principals have invested in such companies as gDiapers eco-friendly diapers, Orabrush bad breath eliminator, Tasty Bite Indian foods, MegaFood & Innate Response nutritional supplements, Eagle snacks and Wellness & Old Mother Hubbard all-natural foods for pets. Additional information is available at www.2xPartners.com.
MegaFood and Innate Response Receive Investment and Support from 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners
Joins Majority Investor The Riverside Company in Backing Whole Food Nutritional Supplements Company
December 12, 2011 (Derry, NH and Chicago, IL) – The MegaFood and Innate Response brands of whole food nutritional supplements (owned by BioSan Laboratories, Inc.) have received an investment from 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners (“2x Partners”). Andrew S. Whitman, Managing Partner at 2x Partners, has joined the company’s board and will work closely with CEO Robert U. Craven and the management team to help build the business. 2x Partners joins majority investor The Riverside Company, a global private equity firm, and longtime owner and former CEO Carl Jackson, who retired in May but continues to be an active advisor and member of the Board of Directors.
“We couldn’t be more excited to have Andy and his team joining us as we continue to outperform the rapidly growing nutritional supplements category,” said Craven. “Their significant industry and operational experience is already adding value.”
“Each year, we review more than 500 emerging branded consumer products businesses in search of highly differentiated businesses with significant growth potential,” said Whitman. “These two exciting brands have demonstrated their connections with consumers, retailers and health professionals alike. We are energized to work with Robert and the team to help the company in its continued growth while staying true to its heritage of delivering unique whole food supplements since 1973.”
“The 2x Partners team was invaluable to Riverside as we performed our diligence, and they introduced us to the company’s current CEO,” said Riverside Managing Partner Loren Schlachet. “We are very pleased to have them on board as valued industry partners to help maintain our growth momentum.”
Also joining the company’s Board is Bob Burke, the Founder and Principal at Natural Products Consulting Institute, and an Industry Venture Partner with 2x Partners. Burke is a sought-after advisor and consultant to high growth companies, leveraging his consulting experience since 1998 and, for the previous 11 years, leading sales and marketing at Stonyfield Farm to help it become the world’s leading organic yogurt company.
Terms of the investment were not disclosed.
About MegaFood and Innate Response brands
Founded in 1973, BioSan Laboratories produces and distributes the premium supplement brands MegaFood and Innate Response for the retail and professional health industry respectively. The company purchases ingredients from a network of U.S. based Farm Fresh Partners, selling a wide variety of dietary supplements for various health needs. For more information, visit www.MegaFood.com or www.InnateResponse.com.
About 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners
2x Consumer Products Growth Partners joins with founders and management in emerging branded consumer products businesses capable of growing exponentially via an infusion of capital and industry expertise. The firm’s principals and industry venture partners have 375 years of combined experience, contacts and connections. Focus areas include food, beverage, personal care, home care and pet care – particularly in the organic/natural, specialty/gourmet and ethnic sectors. The firm or its principals have invested in such companies as gDiapers eco-friendly diapers, Orabrush bad breath eliminator, Tasty Bite Indian foods, Eagle snacks and Wellness & Old Mother Hubbard all-natural foods for pets. Additional information is available at www.2xPartners.com.
About The Riverside Company
The Riverside Company is a global private equity firm focused on acquiring growing enterprises valued at up to $200 million (€200 million in Europe). The firm partners with strong management teams and enhances its investments through acquisitions and organic growth. Since its founding in 1988, Riverside has invested in more than 250 transactions with a total enterprise value of more than $5.8 billion/€4.7 billion. The firm’s portfolio in North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region includes more than 75 companies with roughly 13,000 employees. Riverside completes acquisitions smoothly thanks to $3.2 billion/€2.4 billion in assets under management, more than 200 professionals in 20 offices, and longstanding relationships with partner lenders. Additional information is available at www.RiversideCompany.com.
Nothing like loading up at Costco. Go Anderson.
See gDiapers featured in TEDx presentation starting at the 15:30 mark.
No time to scour natural-food stores and supermarkets for the very best buys? No worries. This year, Vegetarian Times staffers spent many an afternoon sipping, slurping, and nibbling our way down the aisles, sampling foods and ingredients old and new. We then nominated 114 products and asked you, our readers, to choose your favorites.
Boy, did you come through—with more than 170,000 votes cast at vegetariantimes.com.
READER’S CHOICE AWARD – Tasty Bite Vegetable Korma
We heart the generous veggie-to-sauce ratio in this shelf-stable heat- and-eat superstar.
Fortune’s editors have chosen gDiapers Co-Founder and President Kim Graham-Nye as one of the 2011 Fortune Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs. Each year Fortune recognizes 10 female entrepreneurs who are extraordinary innovators, game-changers and groundbreakers whose startups generated $1 million to $25 million in annual revenue last year.
A New Way to Walmart Shelves: Social Media
How Orabrush Bucked Traditional Model of Distribution, Then Marketing by Using Facebook and YouTube First
Getting a packaged-goods brand into Walmart or other national distribution may never quite be the same, as demonstrated by how a bootstrap marketer of tongue cleaners worked its way onto Walmart’s shelves using social media.
Orabrush, which for the first two years of its existence was a lot better at generating YouTube views and publicity than actual sales, has landed the biggest of national accounts — Walmart — thanks to its deft and low-cost use of social media. Specifically, the brand leveraged more than 39 million views of its funny YouTube videos and a $28 campaign of Facebook ads directed mainly at a Walmart buyer to land distribution in 3,500 Walmart stores this month.
While the same exact tactics probably won’t work for another brand, the success of Orabrush is an indicator of how much social media can change the game in a seemingly staid industry dominated by giants, according to Andrew Whitman, managing partner of 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners, a Chicago-based private-equity firm that invests in startup packaged-goods companies, including Orabrush. “The game has totally changed,” he said, adding that low-cost social-media strategies “have leveled the playing field dramatically.” In the same way music acts now launch themselves without mediation by major record labels, he said startup packaged-goods brands can bypass the usual channels and overcome some — but not all — of the big marketing and distribution advantages of established behemoths.
In the case of Orabrush, the brand won national distribution at Walmart with little conventional marketing or its executives ever meeting a buyer face to face. Founded in 2009 in Salt Lake City, Orabrush last year was contacted by a Walmart store manager in Utah who wanted to give the product a try in his store. Under a policy revived under Walmart U.S. CEO Bill Simon, the manager had the authority to do so. He in turn convinced about 20 others in Utah after a store tour to try Orabrush, which used the data from those sales to sway executives at Walmart headquarters.
But it was still hard to get an audience with the buyer. So Orabrush Chief Marketing Officer Jeffrey Harmon earlier this year bought $28 worth of Facebook ads targeted at Walmart employees in Northwest Arkansas reading: “Walmart employees have bad breath. Walmart needs to carry Orabrush. It will sell better than anything in your store.” The Facebook campaign proved a lot more effective than $20,000 in print ads in retail trade magazines, which only generated calls from other trade magazine sales reps, Mr. Harmon said.
Within 48 hours of launching the Facebook ad, Mr. Harmon got an email from the buyer, who said her VP also had seen it and believed it was being directed at Walmart employees nationwide. The buyer, after also seeing a DVD and sales kit on the Orabrush story, placed an order for 735,000 tongue cleaners shipped last month.
A Walmart spokeswoman confirmed the distribution in 3,500 stores, but said she couldn’t immediately confirm details of the negotiations or how the deal came about.
In part, the strategy harks to a bygone era in packaged-goods marketing — the 1950s — when marketers would force distribution by first turning on advertising and getting consumers to pressure retailers. Inquiries from consumers who saw the exploits of Orabrush’s “Morgan the Tongue” on YouTube, for example, led U.K. retailer Boots to place an order, Mr. Harmon said. National distribution with CVS begins next month, he said, and Orabrush already has distribution in the U.K., Japan and Canada, thanks largely to its YouTube following.
“We have a reverse marketing model,” he said. “Normally you get distribution and your supply chain in order, all your packaging and everything perfected, and then launch an ad campaign and start branding it. We started branding, even changing our logo as we went along and getting everything right messaging-wise, and then two years later we’re in national retail launching to enough demand that the sales are blowing a lot of retailers away.”
That has led to such oddities as nearly 40 million YouTube views, 300,000 Facebook fans for a brand that has sold only about 2 million units, mainly online. Orabrush also has generated about 30 million media impressions through coverage in such outlets as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and ABC’s “Nightline.”
Mr. Harmon acknowledged that the tongue-cleaner business has been small and mostly unsuccessful for retailers up to now, leading to some retailer skepticism. But he said YouTube has worked to get Orabrush distribution, and he’ll stick with it to move product off the shelf, too. All the YouTube (and other) advertising has been done in-house, mainly with student filmmakers from Mr. Harmon’s alma mater, Brigham Young University.
Walmart’s local-vendor and “store of the community” policies, while not as wide-open as in the days of Sam Walton, still can be a powerful tool for a startup brand, said one sales rep familiar with the retailer. To the extent social media can inspire people to contact Walmart store managers or buyers to carry an item, it also can help build a case for distribution in a store or nationally.
While in the past Walmart had printed forms customers could fill out requesting an item be carried, today emails directed to the retailer get routed to buyers. That can help influence decisions at the national level. But individual store managers can often be swayed to take on or bring back local items, he said, which in turn can lead to larger regional buys.
Anand Rajaraman, senior VP global e-commerce for Walmart, said at the Advertising Age Digital West conference Sept. 20 that social media will be a key determinant of what local stores carry in the future.
“We’re analyzing social information from the neighborhood area of each store to figure out how the interests of that community should dictate what we carry in that store,” he said. “We might find the Walmart store in Mountain View, Calif., should have a bigger bike section because lots of people bike in that area, while the store in Bentonville, Ark., should have a bigger fishing section.”
Sales data can tell Walmart about the past and products it already carries, he said, but “they don’t give us information about new products, and they aren’t a demand predictor.”
Walmart is clearly emphasizing product innovation, said another sales rep, but last year’s effort to reverse assortment cutbacks is largely finished in many areas, such as grocery. Any kind of grassroots effort to build social-media support for a new product, he said, will only work in categories where it isn’t already well stoked, which is hard. And marketers need to be prepared, like Orabrush, to produce large quantities quickly, he said, because the retailer is working with far less lead time than it once did.
See full article at http://adage.com/article/digital/a-walmart-shelves-social-media/230126.
By SARAH E. NEEDLEMAN
Can a YouTube video bring in big business? If it goes viral, it just might.
[See the video that started it all at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oKYeWf3dPA].
On Tuesday, Provo, Utah-based Orabrush Inc. announced its flagship product – a tongue cleaner – would be carried in 3,500 of Wal-Mart Inc.’s 3,800 U.S. stores thanks to a social-media campaign launched two years ago.
Orabrush initially marketed its tongue cleaners directly to consumers with a TV infomercial in mid-2008, according to founder Bob Wagstaff, who invented the product. But the strategy didn’t perform well.
“We spent $40,000 on it and sold practically nothing,” says the 76-year-old, who next cold-called several large retailers, asking them to carry the product, to no avail.
Unsure why his efforts failed, Mr. Wagstaff approached a marketing professor at Brigham Young University about his dilemma. The professor agreed to let Mr. Wagstaff solicit students for suggestions on how to get the word out. One student suggested creating a YouTube video and volunteered to take up the task. Mr. Wagstaff accepted the offer, which resulted in a comedic two-minute video that cost about $500 to make. It quickly went viral and a series of related videos also made by the same student, now Orabrush’s chief marketing officer, followed soon after.
Today, the company has its own YouTube channel that boasts more than 39 million views and 160,000 subscribers, who get alerts whenever a new video is posted to it. The channel, called Cure Bad Breath, is the third most popular YouTube channel behind OldSpice (No. 1) Apple (No. 2), according to Vidstax.com, a Web-analytics firm. Orabrush also has nearly 300,000 fans on Facebook, which the company uses to promote its videos.
Cure Bad Breath features 88 original shorts, all comedies, with titles like “Diary of a Dirty Tongue,” “World’s Biggest Tongue,” and “Is Your Tongue Kissable? Does Your Breath Stink?” The company’s more recent videos are slicker than the originals and cost more to produce — between $3,000 and $5,000, says Orabrush’s CEO, Jeff Davis. Most of the actors in them are college students and recent graduates, which are also the company’s biggest customers.
Wal-Mart didn’t base its decision to stock the tongue cleaner on Orabrush’s YouTube popularity, says Tara Raddohl, a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart, but she notes the company’s YouTube videos likely raised its profile among consumers.
Orabrush’s Mr. Davis says he credits the company’s social-media efforts for helping get the tongue cleaner into other retail stores. In some cases, he says store managers approached Orabrush on their own, citing requests for the product from customers who’d learned about it online.
While Wal-Mart didn’t reach out to Orabrush this way, Mr. Davis says, the retailer “knew we had sold almost a million units online before we even talked to them.” He further adds that Orabrush, a 28-employee firm, is on track to post $10 million in annual revenue this year after generating just $2 million in 2010.
Still, posting a video on YouTube far from guarantees success.
Larry Chiagouris, professor of marketing at Pace University’s Lubin School of Business, says that while it may not take a lot of time or money for a small business to promote itself on a social-media outlet like YouTube, success can be tough to achieve and the odds of a video going viral are slim.
“Making a video that’s interesting and provocative usually requires some degree of skill,” he says. “It has to be something people want to share. That’s what gets it going.”
It also helps to have an affordable product that offers value to the consumer, he adds.
That said, the effort to make a compelling marketing video could pay off in a big way. “If you’re close to closing a deal with a major retailer,” says Mr. Chiagouris, “something like this could put you over the top.”
Ashok Vasudevan has what it takes to build commercially viable and socially responsible global companies. Tasty Bite, an all-natural, ready-to-eat food sold in the U.S. and Australia, is ranked one of India’s “Top-100 Best Companies to Work For.
Rarely do investors say how they feel about businesses presented to them for funding. (It’s a little like dating or hiring – no one explains why “no” … so actually we did. See “10 Reasons Investors Pass” in the Entrepreneur Resources section of 2xPartners.com site (www.2xPartners.com/resources).
Last evening a group in California shared their thoughts. See their thoughts at www.businessinsider.com/five-vcs-explain-what-they-really-think-about-your-pitches-2011-6.
Despite her atypical look and wild antics, Lady Gaga represents a business success story that just about any aspiring entrepreneur can learn from.
The 25-year-old five-time Grammy winner earned $62 million last year, making her the seventh highest-paid musician in the world, estimates Forbes magazine. Her latest record, “Born This Way,” sold 1.11 million copies its first week in North America after launching on May 23, giving the pop singer the largest sales week since 2005. She boasts a range of products, including camera sunglasses for Polaroid and headphones for Dr. Dre, and she’s developed lucrative partnerships with companies like Amazon and Zynga.
Suffice to say, Lady Gaga has demonstrated in just a handful of years the kind of business growth that few entrepreneurs have been able to claim over a lifetime. Here are three tips that can be gleamed from her rise to stardom:
1. It doesn’t take a silver spoon to succeed at a young age.
Like many a first-time entrepreneur, Lady Gaga, whose real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, worked her way into the public mainstream from humble beginnings. She wasn’t born into a wealthy family, nor did she have connections to the professional music world. She rose to stardom the old-fashioned way — studying music and dance, performing at small venues and battling rejection. (She was dropped from a record deal with Def Jam Records.) For more, please read “Lady Gaga Inc.”
2. You don’t have to spend money to promote yourself online.
Lady Gaga has amassed an army of fans on Facebook and Twitter, even more than President Obama – all without paying a dime. They also didn’t arrive overnight. The “Fame Monster” initially posted videos to YouTube, becoming the first artist to score more than one billion views on the video-sharing site. While the average entrepreneur may not generate as much buzz with an online song and dance routine, it is possible to build a following with a creative video and without spending much.
Orabrush Inc., a two-year-old Provo, Utah, company did this after a pricey infomercial failed to generate significant sales. The start-up began producing weekly videos about a life-size human tongue to market its tongue-cleaning product, and has since generated more than $1 million in online sales, says Jeff Davis, chief executive officer. What’s more, retailers like a Wal-Mart in Utah and London Drugs Ltd., a Canadian drugstore chain, have started carrying Orabrush. “Consumers started going into retail outlets asking for our product,” Davis says.
3. Supporting a popular cause can make you popular, too.
Lady Gaga has forged deep ties with the gay community by openly protesting the government’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy banning gays from the U.S. military. For example, last year she began campaigning with the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network to repeal the law with a YouTube video plea and postings on her website. Though it’s unclear how such acts of advocacy might drive sales, experts in cause marketing say even if consumers aren’t big fans of your product or service, they may be inclined to buy from your business if it’s aligned with a cause that’s meaningful to them. In fact, 80% of 1,057 U.S. adults surveyed last July said they’d favor a brand that’s associated with a good cause over another that’s similar in price and quality, according to Cone LLC, a strategy and communications agency in Boston.
Link to article online: http://blogs.wsj.com/in-charge/2011/06/02/what-aspiring-entrepreneurs-can-learn-from-lady-gaga.
While attending the Stonyfield Institute, lawyer (and good friend of the firm anyway!) Steve Palmer provided some info on:
How the term angels came to be/what they are
How you find them
What they want
Steve was good enough to provide some notes below:
(Those of you who are Biblical scholars might like to think of angel investing in terms of “manna from heaven”)
I. What are angel investors?
II. How do you find them?
III. What do they want?
I. What are angel investors?
– One possible answer: Anyone who will give your venture some money!
– The term “angel investor” was first used to describe wealthy individuals who helped to fund Broadway productions.
– In 1978, William Wetzel of the Center for Venture Research of the University of New Hampshire started using the term the way we think of it today.
– Because each angel investor is different – and because angel investing in general has changed over the years as we will learn in a moment – what I am saying about angel investing are generalizations.
– Originally, angel investors were high net worth individuals who made investments with their own personal funds in early stage ventures – typically as a second stage investment after founder or friends and family rounds.
– Often they were entrepreneurs who “cashed out” and wanted to invest in new enterprises.
– In the late 1980s, angel groups or angel networks began to form where groups of high net worth individuals pooled their money to make investments. They have investment criteria, review committees and often professional staff. There are now at least 300 such angel groups in the U.S. – and probably more.
– One of the larger groups in this region is “Common Angels” in Boston, which was formed in 1998, and which generally has an IT investment focus.
– These angel groups and networks have moved angel investing along the spectrum to look more like traditional venture capital financing.
– But there are still plenty of traditional individual angel investors out there and actively investing. One estimate puts the number of active angel investors in the U.S. in 2007 at over 250,000.
II. How do you find them?
– Just like “real” angels, you often can’t see them.
– It is easier to find “angel groups” these days using search sites such as Google, Yahoo or Bing or by using resources such as the Angelsoft network. Angelsoft network, which you can find at angelsoft.net, was formed in 2004 and provides web-based deal flow management software to angel investors and provides a forum to introduce entrepreneurs to potential sources of angel funding.
– Identifying the traditional type of individual angel investor is a bit trickier.
– One way to find them is by attending events such as this and by networking. I have a feeling there may be an angel investor or two in this room right now. But be kind – lest they disappear!
– Ask other entrepreneurs.
– Ask your advisors.
III. What do they want?
– Remember, they may be angels, but they are also investors. Like any investor, they want a return.
– As early stage risk investors, they’d like a big return – something on the order of 10x, 20x or even more over a 5 year horizon. And like other investors, they certainly don’t always get it!
– They want you to succeed! Many angel investors, in addition to giving you money, want to be your mentor. They like to share the benefit of their experience and their contacts.
– Many develop a strong personal interest in and connection with your company – and you.
– They often have knowledge and interest in your industry and can be good sounding boards.
– In general they are more likely to be “hands on” than passive investors, but are less control oriented than VCs
I started with a Biblical reference, so I’ll close with one from pop culture. If you are a fan of It’s a Wonderful Life, now you know that every time you hear a bell ring, not only has an angel gotten his or her wings, but has made an investment in a company like yours!
Provided courtesy of:
Stephen L. Palmer | K&L Gates
State Street Financial Center, One Lincoln Street, Boston, MA 02111
(617) 951-9211 direct | e-mail: email@example.com
Recently, Gary Sebek, Charlie Friend and Andy Whitman spent time at the “Superbowl” of trade shows for the housewares and natural products spaces. See the video recap below.
Unfortunately the Stonyfield Institute (Mar 24/25) is sold out – sorry for the last minute folks that wanted to attend – but great news. The event is being carried live online – check it out at http://www.inc.com/events/stonyfield.
Includes NISSAN for the Leaf, home cleaning products company METHOD, design gurus OXO and multi-national manufacturers UNILEVER and P&G. See http://www.fastcompany.com/1738666/the-10-most-innovative-companies-in-consumer-products.
Includes fave retailer TRADER JOE’S, local food connector FOODHUB, restaurant chains including CHIPOTLE and multi-national manufacturer PEPSICO. See www.fastcompany.com/1738541/the-10-most-innovative-companies-in-food.
Our Andy Whitman had the privilege of hosting a panel with Gary Hirshberg (Stonyfield Farm), Irv Cernauskas (Irv & Shelly’s Fresh Picks) and Michael Bashaw (Whole Foods). Plus he co-hosted the afternoon “Skill Building” session with fellow Kraft Foods alumnus turned local food guru-in-the-making Kathy Nyquist.
A highlight though was meeting and listening to Will Allen, former American Basketball Association star, former sales executive and currently Founder & CEO of Growing Power (a farm and community food center in Milwaukee, WI). Will is widely considered the leading authority in the rapidly expanding world of urban agriculture.
Hope we’ll see you at this “boot camp” for community-minded entrepreneurs. Our Andy Whitman has had the pleasure of helping to host with Gary Hirshberg (Stonyfield Farm) and Michael Swack (Univ. of NH) for several years now. GREAT event. Worth coming just to meet Gary and hear the “tales from the trenches” … some stories feel more like a stand-up comedy routine … if they weren’t true about all the things that can & do happen to entrepreneurs.
Must attend!! Learn more at: www.carseyinstitute.unh.edu/SEI.html.
Recently, Gary Sebek and Andy Whitman spent time in India including visiting different types of establishments in the rapidly changing retail landscape in India. See the video recap below.
Great video from the Orabrush team regarding the recent financing.
Today, Gary Sebek and Andy Whitman visited the Tasty Bite Facility in Pune, India.
Seth gave a great Day Two keynote. Keeping it Honest. Talking about the company history, challenges / opportunities, partnering with Coke, etc. Things are going great on the Coke partnership. Kudos to Seth.
Portland Oregon-based gDiapers received Green America’s People’s Choice Award for Green Business of the Year. Certified Cradle to Cradle, gDiapers are plastic-free, elemental chlorine-free, latex free, and perfume free. gDiapers biodegradable gRefills can be home composted, tossed, or flushed. They are the only certified 100% biodegradable diaper and break down in about 3 months, unlike disposables, which can take up to 500 years.
“Winning the People’s Choice Award is the most rewarding accolade we could receive. Nothing means more to advancing the environmental cause than the collective voice of individuals calling for and believing in change. We are so very grateful.” Kim Graham-Nye, President and co-founder, gDiapers. “We couldn’t have done it without all of the amazing moms and dads committed to changing the world, one diaper at a time.”
The People’s Choice Award winners are chosen by individual Green America members across the country, who nominating and vote for their favorite green business. The award was presented at the San Francisco Green Festival.
The top ten finalists this year were:
Brittanie’s Thyme (Cedar Springs, MI)
Digital Hub (Chicago, IL)
Ecobunga.com (San Francisco, CA)
Faeries Dance (Harbor City, CA)
Grounds for Change (Poulsbo, WA)
Hazelnut Kids (Traverse City, MI)
Stay Vocal (Norwell, MA)
Theo Chocolate (Seattle, WA)
We Add Up (Wickliffe, OH)
About Green America
Green America is a national nonprofit organization founded in 1982, providing the economic strategies, organizing power and practicing tools for businesses and individuals to address today’s social and environmental problems. Its Green Business Network is the largest national network of businesses screened for their social and environmental responsibility. www.greenamericatoday.org
Click Here To Listen:
How a CPG Fund Will Evaluate Your Company
(an interview/podcast hosted by author and consultant Bob Jordan)
October 1, 2010 (Stamford, CT) – Preferred Brands International (PBI), the manufacturers of Tasty Bite®, the leading brand of all natural, shelf stable Indian and Asian food, today announced a substantial investment by 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners. Existing investor, Rustic Canyon/Fontis Partners (RC/Fontis), also participated in this round of financing. Gary R. Sebek and Andrew S. Whitman, Managing Partners of 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners, will work closely with CEO Ashok Vasudevan and the Tasty Bite management team.
In a rapidly growing market for ethnic foods, Tasty Bite is leading the way with consistent annual growth in excess of 35%. According to Vasudevan, “Tasty Bite is helping Americans ‘Spice It Up’ with our complete line of all-natural Indian and Pan-Asian entrées, simmer sauces, rice and meal inspiration offerings.” Tasty Bite products can be found at many grocery, natural food and club stores in the United States, Canada and Australia.
The investment will help expand capacity at the Company’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Pune, India as well as increase Tasty Bite sales, distribution and marketing efforts. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome Gary and Andy and the 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners team to the Tasty Bite family,” says CEO Vasudevan. “Their approach to working with entrepreneurs and their deep background in the food industry are welcome additions to our team.”
“In seeking out highly differentiated businesses with significant growth potential, we review hundreds of opportunities among emerging branded consumer products companies each year,” commented Sebek. “Having proactively evaluated many ethnic food companies, Tasty Bite is in a class of its own with an outstanding management team. Its unique and tempting products have mainstream appeal and tremendous growth potential. We’re excited to support the outstanding Tasty Bite management team in helping the business reach its full potential.”
RC/Fontis, a Southern California-based private equity fund, also previously invested in PBI. According to Renee LaBran, Partner in RC/Fontis and PBI Board Member, “RC/Fontis is pleased to welcome 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners to the Tasty Bite business and we are excited to further our commitment.”
Terms of the investment were not disclosed.
About Tasty Bite
Tasty Bite is the leading shelf-stable brand of Indian food in the United States and Australia. The brand is owned by Preferred Brands International, which was founded in 1995 and headquartered in Stamford, CT.
Tasty Bite brings flavors from the world straight to consumers’ kitchens with its all-natural entrée, simmer sauce, rice and meal inspiration offerings. Using the freshest ingredients, many of which are grown on the company’s farm in India, Tasty Bite products offer a range of cuisine at good value. With products ready to eat in just 90 seconds, Tasty Bite offers the perfect meal-time solution for those looking for a well-spiced, flavorful ethnic-inspired meal experience. Tasty Bite was named one of India’s “Best Companies to Work For” in 2009, Learn about all the delicious foods available at www.tastybite.com.
About 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners
2x Consumer Products Growth Partners joins with founders and management in emerging branded consumer products businesses capable of growing exponentially via an infusion of capital and industry expertise. The firm’s principals and industry venture partners have 350 years of combined experience, contacts and connections. Focus areas include food, beverage, personal care, home care and pet care – particularly in the organic/natural, specialty/gourmet and ethnic sectors. The firm or its principals have invested in such companies as gDiapers eco-friendly diapers, Orabrush bad breath eliminator, Eagle snacks and Wellness & Old Mother Hubbard all-natural foods for pets. Additional information is available at www.2xPartners.com.
About Rustic Canyon/Fontis Partners
Rustic Canyon/Fontis Partners, LP (RC/Fontis) is a Southern California-based private equity fund, providing expansion capital for high growth companies in both control and non-control transactions. The fund has particular expertise in US ethnic markets, and focuses on businesses in the consumer products (including food and beverage) and media industries, as well as business and consumer services. For more information, please visit www.rcfontis.com.
For the second time this week, we announced an investment. Our partnership and investment in Tasty Bite is an exciting one on many fronts. Tasty Bite is a fantastic brand with excellent history of growth and continued outstanding prospects. Of course the products are stellar; but the savvy management team is, like usual, a big part of the magic on the business. We couldn’t be more excited to join them and prior investor RC/Fontis in the future of the Tasty Bite business. Please visit www.TastyBite.com and make sure to try it today!
On a nice crisp early winter day a little less than a year ago, we met with Jeffrey and Neal Harmon, two young executives with Orabrush, Inc. It was the beginning of an exciting year … learning about this fantastic business, introducing them to two Angel investors and an industry executive from P&G who subsequently joined the Company as CEO … and culminating this month with an investment from 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners in Orabrush. See the news section for the press release. Twenty-four million YouTube views later and Orabrush is building the brand and consumer following in a whole new way.
We couldn’t be more excited to be involved (or to have a NY Times article run on the same day – see http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/27/business/media/27adco.html)
Former P&G executive Jeff D. Davis joins as CEO; 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners leads investment.
September 28, 2010 (Provo, UT) – Orabrush, the tongue cleaner that helps cure bad breath, today announced the hiring of a new CEO and a growth capital investment. Both initiatives, designed to fuel growth, are the outcome of a relationship built over the past year between Orabrush executives Jeffrey and Neal Harmon and Andrew S. Whitman, Managing Partner of 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners.
According to market research company Packaged Facts, Americans spend $3.1 billion each year on mints, gums and rinses to mask bad breath. However, the New York School of Dental Medicine indicates that “tongue bacteria account for 80% to 90% of all cases of bad breath.” Orabrush’s patented combination of ultra-soft, pointed bristles to clean deep into the tongue and a tongue scraper to remove bacteria really works. Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Jeffrey Harmon developed a revolutionary direct-to-consumer social media marketing approach which has resulted in more than 24 million YouTube views and high profile press coverage, including this week in the New York Times (www.nytimes.com/2010/09/27/business/media/27adco.html). Consumers are responding both by posting their own product reviews (with another 3.5 million YouTube views) and with their purchases of Orabrush.
In August, Jeff D. Davis joined Orabrush as CEO after retiring from Procter & Gamble with 23 years of service. Most recently, Davis led global operations of the worldwide Wella business as VP/General Manager, P&G Salon Professional. During his tenure at P&G, Davis worked in six different product sectors (including consumer packaged goods, pharmaceutical and beauty businesses) and in five different countries (United States, Canada, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Germany). According to Dr. Robert Wagstaff (“Dr. Bob”), Orabrush founder and Chairman, “Jeff brings exactly the right mix of big company experience and entrepreneurial spirit.” Neal Harmon, Chief Operating Officer, adds “we appreciated Andy’s interest in Orabrush to introduce us last winter to Jeff Davis who subsequently joined us as CEO.”
Having made a recent investment, 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners will bring its extensive branded consumer products experience in support of the growth of Orabrush. “Andy and the team understand our industry-leading, innovative social media marketing model,” says CMO Jeffrey Harmon. “Even before investing, they helped us meet our Angel investors and acted as a sounding board on business issues.” CEO Davis adds, “This partner brings the capital and right expertise our young company needs. We know they will be a critical contributor to our future success.”
“We review hundreds of opportunities among emerging branded consumer products companies each year, to identify highly differentiated businesses with significant growth potential,” commented Whitman. “Orabrush is a unique and patented product with an unbelievable route-to-market and engaged consumer following. We couldn’t be more excited to support Dr. Bob, Neal, Jeffrey, Jeff and the team in the expansion of the Orabrush business.”
Orabrush sales levels and the magnitude of the investment were not disclosed, but the funding will be used to expand distribution, staff and the Orabrush product line.
Created by Dr. Robert Wagstaff (“Dr. Bob”) in 2000, Orabrush is a patented, FDA approved tongue cleaner designed to help cure bad breath using a combination of ultra-soft, pointed bristles that reach deep into the tongue and a unique scraper to remove bacteria. Orabrush intends to become the #1 tongue cleaner in the world as 80% to 90% of bad breath is caused by bacteria on the tongue. Orabrush has demonstrated industry-leading innovation in social media marketing to create awareness and online purchases at unprecedented levels. With over 24 million YouTube views and more than 250,000 Facebook fans, the brand has launched into 114 countries in the past year. Orabrush has the seventh most subscribed sponsor channel on YouTube and is rapidly expanding to retail to meet the needs of engaged consumers globally. Watch the videos or order your Orabrush at www.orabrush.com or connect with us on www.YouTube.com/orabrush.
About 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners
2x Consumer Products Growth Partners joins with founders and management in emerging branded consumer products businesses capable of growing exponentially via an infusion of capital and industry expertise. The firm’s principals and industry venture partners have 350 years of combined experience, contacts and connections. Focus areas include food, beverage, personal care, home care and pet care – particularly in the organic/natural, specialty/gourmet and ethnic sectors. Businesses are primarily within the $1 to $15 million revenue range. The firm or its principals have invested in such companies as gDiapers eco-friendly diapers, Eagle snacks and Wellness & Old Mother Hubbard all-natural foods for pets. Additional information is available at www.2xPartners.com.
In December 2009, we participated in BevNet LIVE – a fantastic forum for emerging beverage business entrepreneurs (and big company folks alike) – by giving a workshop on how to attract venture capital or private equity funding for their beverage businesses called “Show Me The Money – Financing Bootcamp for Founders”. We had a chance to meet many founders including brothers Mark and Jon Sider who were readily to launch a brand called Greater > Than. It was a concept at the time as they’d not yet done their first production run. Well, based on seeing their sampling van parked on a Chicago street corner, it’s great to see the concept become reality. www.drinkgt.com
gDiapers doesn’t stop thinking about kids once they’re toilet trained. The company’s daycare and flex-friendly policies place family time at the brand’s center.
Seven years ago, Jason and Kim Graham-Nye were about to have their first child when they came across an intriguing factoid in the morning paper. They discovered that though only 5 percent of the population uses diapers, they are the third largest landfill contributor. The only real alternative to disposable diapers was cloth diapers, and since those are water-intensive, they were a no-go in the couple’s arid Australia home. Soon they began to see the dearth of biodegradable diapers as a business opportunity and they picked up and moved to Portland, Oregon.
The Graham-Nye’s spoke to Inc. reporter Josh Spiro about the company’s daycare program, maintaining a healthy work-life balance in a family-run business and connecting with their customers via social media.
Read the full article online at http://www.inc.com/articles/2010/08/gdiapers-q-and-a.html.
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December 3, 2007, Portland, OR – gDiapers, the earth-friendly hybrid diaper that you can flush, compost or toss, today announced a partnership with, and significant minority investment from, 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners of Chicago. Co-founders Jason and Kimberley Graham-Nye, CEO and President respectively, will work closely with the 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners team led by Managing Partner Andrew S. Whitman in building the business.
Last year alone, more than 18 billion diapers went into landfills across America, where they will not biodegrade for up to 500 years. Fifty million traditional disposable diapers are thrown out daily – approximately 35,000 diapers per minute! Environmentally friendly hybrid gDiapers consist of a stylish, breathable, washable outer ‘little g’ pant and a plastic-free ultra-absorbent refill that that will break down in 50 to 150 days. Environmentally concerned consumers and caring parents have embraced them, including opinion leaders such as actress Julia Roberts.
“gDiapers make for a happy baby and a happy planet. We’re Cradle to Cradle certified, which means that everything that goes into the refill is reabsorbed by the planet in a neutral or helpful way,” stated Jason Graham- Nye, CEO/dad and co-founder. “Also, being plastic-free means less diaper rash.”
“2x Consumer Products Growth Partners understands our commitment to a values-based business – one that looks after people, the planet and profits,” explained Kim Graham-Nye, President/mom and co-founder. “The unparalleled depth of experience in the industry will help gDiapers achieve our goals – business, social and environmental.”
“We review hundreds of opportunities among emerging branded consumer products companies, to identify highly differentiated businesses with significant growth potential,” commented Andy Whitman. “gDiapers has a consumer following the likes of which I’ve never seen before. They’ve created a game-changing product that can have significant impact on babies, parents and the planet. We’re proud to partner with and support Jason, Kim and the gDiapers team.”
As part of the new partnership, Whitman and Gil Pritchard, a 3-time industry CEO at Avalon Naturals, nSpired Foods and Barbara’s Bakery, have joined the gDiapers board of directors.
2x Consumer Products Growth Partners is joined in this Series B round by co-investor Golden Seeds, an angel investor group providing early stage and growth capital to women entrepreneurs across all sectors, plus current investors and manufacturing partner Principal Business Enterprises, Inc. The investment will be used to expand distribution, staff and products.