AccelFoods, an accelerator and fund that backs innovative food and beverage companies, has added $15 million to its second fund, according to founding partners Jordan Gaspar and Lauren Jupiter.
AccelFoods has backed brands making products that range from edgy to adorable. Examples are Exo, which makes protein supplements and bars from crickets (yes the insects); Four Sigmatic, which uses a blend of beans and mushrooms to make anti-oxidant rich coffees with mild caffeine; and Tea Drops, a maker of tea that dissolves in hot water, doesn’t require a bag and is formed into cute flower and heart shapes.
With AccelFoods’ help, portfolio companies frequently launch products via the Amazon Launchpad food store, which targets shoppers looking for something new. Other venture firms and accelerators have joined the platform, but AccelFoods was an early participant there.
Based in New York, AccelFoods plans to continue investing in startups that tap into, or in some cases touch off, new consumer snacking, grocery and health trends. But it will now be able to invest in food and beverage startups at different stages, not just fledgling brands.
Typically, AccelFoods will now write checks from $250,000 up to $3 million for a given deal, depending on the stage the company is in and other investors at the table. They will back companies that aren’t yet revenue generating, up to companies doing $10 million in annual sales, with established relationships across groceries and distributors.
Since 2014, when AccelFoods made its first investments, several new venture firms have cropped up to back “CPG” or consumer packaged goods companies and food-related technologies. They include strategic, or company-affiliated funds like Kelloggs’ 1894 Capital or Campbell’s Soup-affiliated Acre Venture Partners and standalone funds like S2G Ventures, PowerPlant Ventures and CAVU Venture Partners.
Even traditional tech-oriented venture firms have allocated capital to the makers of food and beverages. For example, Khosla Ventures and GV (formerly Google Ventures) backed the makers of “next-gen meats and cheeses” made entirely from plants, Impossible Foods, and True Ventures and Index Ventures are among the many tech firms backing Blue Bottle Coffee.
Gaspar said food and beverage businesses can be higher-tech than many assume, from managing direct-to-consumer relationships and building an e-commerce brand to reach early customers well before their products are sold widely at supermarket chains, to the ways they use big data analytics to develop flavors and proteins.
Jupiter said she did not have permission to name AccelFoods’ new limited partners. However, she said, “They are a mix of high-net-worth individuals, family offices and corporates with strategic capabilities in the food and beverage space The idea is that through our LP base, we bring together different parties with unique interests to move innovation forward.”
Some of the fund’s limited partners would have been viewed as competitors in the past.