Whynatte, an Atlanta-based start-up that produces a line of premium coffee beverages and mixers, has been selected as one of four companies to take part in an accelerated growth program launched by AccelFoods, a new food and beverage accelerator with a dedicated investment fund of $4 million.
Offering “engaged support to help packaged food and beverage entrepreneurs position themselves to scale,” the accelerator program runs twice per year, with a new round of four companies taking part every six months. Depending on their current top line sales, the four companies, which also include Exo Cricket-Flour Protein Bars, Jaali Bean Indian Side Dishes, KOLAT Nut-Butter Spreads, received an initial investment of $18,000 to $50,000, along with potential for an additional follow-up investment of up to $200,000.
Along with day-to-day operational support from AccelFoods’ management team, the half-year program is comprised of in-person seminars that take place at AccelFoods office in New York or via videoconference, as well as “the opportunity to speak with [company] mentors for weekly and bi-weekly one-on-one chats and meetings,” according to the company’s website. The mentor and advisory group is comprised of dozens of food and beverage industry veterans that reads like a who’s who list in natural/specialty food and beverage.
With backgrounds in angel investment, retailing, brand management and marketing, AccelFoods counts over 100 mentors as part of its team, including “Top Chef” producer and restaurateur Tom Colicchio, beverage attorney Nick Giannuzzi, Verlinvest investment manager Franklin Issacson, and Donald McIntryre, President – Western Region, United Natural Foods (UNFI). The accelerator program also offers a number of strategic corporate partnerships with well-known and established businesses, including Unisource, FreshDirect and JetBlue.
“The AccelFoods ecosystem will work to create a new generation of packaged food and beverage companies built with best practices in mind so that companies can scale more efficiently,” co-founder Lauren Jupiter said in a statement.
According to its website, AccelFoods “generally” takes a 9 percent equity stake in each company that it selects for the accelerator program. However, Jesse Altman, co-founder & CEO, Whynatte, said that because of existing shareholder commitments and the valuation of his company, AccelFoods’ interest in Whynatte is less than 9 percent. While specific financial terms were not disclosed, Altman explained that the potential opportunities created by the program made the deal “very fair.”
“They raise funds, invest in the company; that puts them on the same side of the table as me,” Altman said. “They’ve got skin in the game as well.”
“In the tech world, [accelerators] are a dime a dozen,” he continued. “That ecosystem doesn’t really exist in beverages. If I take advantage of the opportunities to network, there’s a lot of good, lasting relationships that’ll go on well after six months.”
Altman said that, in particular, it was the program’s opportunity to meet and develop connections with institutional investors that is especially appealing to Whynatte. AccelFoods’ co-founder Jordan Gaspar echoed that sentiment.
“It’s really in the later stages for real investment opportunity,” Gaspar explained, noting the potential for new funding during and after the duration of the six-month accelerator program.
Despite the potential to rapidly expand and scale his business, Altman explained that it was Jupiter and Gaspar’s dedication to the development and launch of AccelFoods that most attracted him to partnering with the company.
“Both left lucrative careers in law and banking and jumped in feet first,” Altman said. “Their commitment spoke volumes to me.”