Caroline Beckman, one of the first employees at Suja, left the cold-pressed juice company in May and was recently named as part of the 2015 class of Thiel Fellows, a unique mentoring program founded by famed tech investor Peter Thiel. Beckman is now focused on the launch of a new organic food company called Nomva, which she co-founded with Nina Church, a daughter of Suja CEO Jeff Church.
Beckman joined Suja in 2012, pausing her studies at the University of San Diego to join the fast-growing company, later becoming its vice president of special projects. She is one of 20 new Thiel Fellows, a group comprised of students aged 22 or younger who have skipped college or stopped their college education during the two years of the program. Fellows receive a $100,000 award and mentorship from the Thiel Foundation’s network of founders, investors, and scientists.
Beckman will utilize the funds and Thiel network in support of Nomva, which will produce organic fruit and vegetable snacks that are made with added probiotics. The snacks will have a smoothie-like texture and be packaged in pouches, Beckman told BevNET. Based in San Francisco, Nomva is scheduled for a summertime launch, with distribution beginning in Los Angeles and San Diego.
The launch of Nomva took place at time that “made sense for the Fellowship,” Beckman said, noting that she has been involved in the Thiel community for over two years. Granted a Thiel Fellowship with particular focus on health and wellness products, Beckman said that the $100,000 award and outside capital that she and Church, a current student at Stanford University, have raised will go toward the development of Nomva. She declined to disclose the total amount of funding for Nomva.
Leaning on her experience and relationships built at Suja will be a key for Nomva, Beckman said. Perhaps just as important will be brand attributes, including organic ingredients, a “clean label” and trend-focused formulations, that have elevated Suja from its early days as a tiny cleanse-focused juice outfit to a leading player in a new wave of health and wellness food companies.