Spudsy bags $3.3M to turn ‘ugly’ sweet potatoes into snacks

Spudsy, a brand that upcycles imperfect sweet potatoes and turns them into plant-based snacks, announced Thursday that it raised $3.3 million in Series A funding in a round led by KarpReilly and Stage 1 Fund.

With the new funding, the company has raised a total of $6.5 million since the company was founded three years ago, Ashley Rogers, Spudsy founder and CEO told TechCrunch.

“Being a young brand, we don’t know everything, and these investors have a portfolio of food and beverage companies and have been doing this forever,” she said. “Their expertise and guidance has provided us checks and balances and connected us with Amazon and direct-to-consumer agencies.”

Rogers has been in the food industry for the past seven years and had founded another brand called Buff Bake, a protein cookie.

She sold her share of the company to her business partners and started Spudsy when she saw a white space in the market for a brand that focused on sweet potatoes to compete against others that were making snacks from other vegetables.

“We started with puff snacks — they were on trend and [we] saw no one else doing it,” she added.

In addition to the puff, which comes in five flavors, Spudsy launched a sweet potato “fry,” similar to a straw, in four flavors over the past year.

Spudsy claims that 150 million pounds of sweet potatoes end up in landfills due to minor imperfections like shape, size and color. The brand is currently working with a farm in North Carolina to use the potatoes left in the field and is on track to save 1 million of these so-called flawed sweet potatoes by the end of 2021, Rogers said.

Starting in the salted snack aisle made the most sense for the company. Salty snacks is one of the top-selling items in the snack category, accounting for $27 billion in sales in the United States in 2017, according to Statista. Rogers estimates that this has grown in the past four years to be between $30 and $36 billion.

However, her vision for the company is to “become a platform brand and live in different areas of the grocery store,” including frozen foods, bread, tortilla and any other carb. Spudsy products are already in Whole Foods, Kroger and Sam’s Club.

The company built out much of its executive suite last year and will focus some of the new capital to hiring, but most of it will go to supporting the “ton of national retailer” inquiries Spudsy is receiving and investing in store demonstrations.

Having launched the fries product line two months ago, most of the company’s focus is there for now, but Rogers is also looking at direct-to-consumer and Amazon sales.

“We have dabbled in DTC, but not focused on and plan to get that working next year,” she added.