Ben Weiss, the founder and CEO of Bai Brands, today revealed that Dr Pepper Snapple Group’s (DPS) $15 million acquisition of a minority stake in his company was based on a half-billion dollar valuation. The deal gives DPS a 3 percent ownership position in Bai, which also recently secured a $25 million line of credit from global investment banking firm J.P. Morgan Chase, Weiss told BevNET.
The whirlwind of activity and eye-popping valuation is remarkable for a company that launched just six years ago and only recently achieved profitability; Weiss said Bai turned a profit for the first time earlier this year. Now armed with infusion of cash and credit line totaling $40 million, Bai will look to continued development of the brand, including strengthening its supply lines, new retail activations and, most immediately, a surge in advertising.
“It is time to start marketing the brand,” Weiss said.
While Bai has made some investments in outdoor and online advertising campaigns, Weiss said that the company’s “marketing to date has been ‘at the point of thirst.’” That will soon change, with recently appointed CMO Michael Simon leading the charge. Weiss said that Simon is in the process of building a “true marketing competency at Bai,” though deferred specific details of planned initiatives to a later date.
Certainly, a secure supply of its key ingredient, coffeefruit, is critical to the continued development of Bai. When asked if use of the new funding could be utilized for investment in coffee plantations, Weiss offered that Bai is “open to vertical integration in all aspects of our business,”
“We are a brand that likes to touch everything, and we’re building this in a very sustainable way, and by that I mean something that will be around for decades and decades beyond where it is today,” Weiss said. “And to do that, you need to take every part of your business very seriously.”