Last year, food, beverage, and supplement consulting firm MetaBrand extended the scope of its operations by launching MetaBrand Capital, a self-described “conscious capital” private equity fund. In its first order of business, MetaBrand bet big on Runa LLC, committing the entirety of its introductory $10 million fund to the organic, guayusa-based beverage brand and its nonprofit sister organization, based in Ecuador.
Now, Metabrand’s in the process of raising $25 million for a second fund, tentatively titled “Fund B.” This time around, the fund’s plans are to take a minority stake in five to ten companies in the natural food, beverage and supplements space, with investments ranging between $500,000 and $2.5 million each.
“We’re looking to hit that sweet spot for successful brands looking to get their first large capital round outside of friends, family and angels,” says MetaBrand founder Eric Schnell in a call to BevNET. “This isn’t a fund looking to invest in complete startups with zero revenue, but we’re still far below the criteria of most private equity groups who want you to have $5 million in sales, needing $5 million.”
According to Schnell, the companies on Metabrand’s radar are ones aiming to reinvent major food and beverage categories within the natural foods channel.
“We do see that as the future,” he says. “So for example we’re looking at superfoods and exotic ingredients being used to reinvent the snack food category.”
Schnell points to his venture with Runa as a model for what MetaBrand capital will provide entrepreneurs who are looking for more than just funding. MetaBrand recently helped facilitate two major additions to Runa’s operating team. Vita Coco co-founder Mike Kirban has come aboard as an investor and member of the company’s advisory board. Additionally, Richard Matusow, a MetaBrand consultant and the former VP of sales of the organic, fair-trade, acai pioneer Sambazon, is joining Runa as company President on an interim basis.
“Runa’s the perfect guinea pig model that we can show entrepreneurs,” Schnell adds. “The typical large private equity group may not have the ability to roll up their sleeves and make the type of introductions we’re making. We’re operators here. We’ve run food and beverage companies before and that’s the value we’re bringing.”