Mission Driven Companies Focus of New Collaborative Fund & CircleUp Partnership

DeZkNbHaLast week equity and investment crowdfunding platform CircleUp and venture capital firm the Collaborative Fund announced the launch of Collab+Consumer, a new fund on CircleUp for early-stage, mission-driven companies in retail, apparel, CPG and pet care. The fund, which totals $10 million, will invest $500,000 to $3 million per company.

“Many of our companies are excited about the prospect of finding strategic capital when they work with us – this partnership provides them with yet another partner that helps fill this demand,” Allie Rabman, a business development associate at CircleUp, tells NOSH.

Collaborative Fund provides seed capital for startup companies that aspire to change the world with disruptive businesses. Investors in the fund include musician Pharrell Williams, Zappos founder Tony Hsieh and Kiva co-founder Jessica Jackley. It has invested in food and beverage brands including Hampton Creek, Blue Bottle Coffee, Exo and Revolution Foods. CircleUp is an online platform that helps consumer brands seeking investment connect with, and received capital from, accredited investors.

The relationship between the two companies has been ongoing. Collaborative Fund led CircleUp’s $30 Million Series C round in 2015 and its Managing Partner and Founder Craig Shapiro is on the company’s Board of Directors. Shapiro has a personal investment profile on the website and has invested in brands such as cereal and gardening company Back to the Roots, through the platform.

icon-facebookThe partnership comes at a time when consumers, especially Millennial consumers, are seeking to purchase more than just a physical product. The story behind the company, what it hopes to achieve and the values it holds are, in some cases, almost as important as the product itself. When you think about what connects people to brands, part of that comes from the product itself, but a lot of it stems from an emotional connection,” Rabman notes. “If a brand is mission-driven, it is able to connect with consumers on a deeper level.”

While having a company mission can provide a rally cry, there are also financial (and less altruistic) benefits to aligning a brand with a cause. “This commitment to offering better products to enrich people’s lives, apart from just a better-tasting snack or a better-looking product,” Rabman says, “is what can help a brand stand out amongst the many lining the shelves.”

The full press release can be found below:

SAN FRANCISCO, April 5, 2016 — Today, Collaborative Fund and CircleUp announce the launch of Collab+Consumer, a new fund focused on early-stage, mission-driven companies in the consumer products and retail industry. This partnership brings together two organizations helping reshape Consumer Packaged Goods.

This new fund will build on Collaborative Fund’s existing portfolio of consumer brands, such as Hampton Creek, Sweetgreen, Blue Bottle Coffee, SOMA Water, Outdoor Voices, Beyond Meat, Revolution Foods, and more.

In less than four years, CircleUp has helped over 160 companies raise more than $180 million in growth equity. CircleUp’s data-driven approach to selecting companies, and sophisticated tools for entrepreneurs to manage their capital raise, support the most innovative emerging consumer brands. Back to the Roots, Nomad, and Tava Kitchen, which recently closed a $4.5M round, are among the numerous brands that have raised capital with CircleUp’s marketplace.

“Given our joint resources, the Collab+Consumer fund can move quickly and lead new investment opportunities for mission-driven brands in this category,” said Craig Shapiro, Founder and Managing Partner of Collaborative Fund. “We see a tremendous opportunity in early-stage consumer and retail, as evolving consumer demands reward companies with healthier, more sustainable products and retail, an obsession with brand and mission; and acute focus on design and user experience.”

“CircleUp continues to forge ahead in our mission to help more entrepreneurs thrive by giving them the capital and resources they need. Building on our existing network of thousands of sophisticated consumer investors, we are thrilled to announce this new fund, which combines the leadership of a top-tier, proven manager like Collaborative Fund with our Classifier, our pioneering technology for identifying the most promising investment opportunities — instantly,” said Rory Eakin, COO and Co-founder of CircleUp. “By integrating our data-driven sourcing technology into their investment process, Collaborative Fund will build this portfolio with tremendous efficiency and transparency, which is great for consumer entrepreneurs and investors alike.”

CircleUp’s Classifier will source companies for the fund based on its comprehensive analysis of key business metrics. The Classifier aggregates and weighs an average of 92,000 data points per company, including financials, leadership, brand, customer engagement and deal and exit potential. Collaborative Fund will manage investment decisions and invest $500K to $3M in each startup and support portfolio companies in future rounds of financing. Specific areas of interest include startups focused on food, personal care, clothing, and products and services focused on health, sustainability and safety.

About Collaborative Fund: With over $100 million in assets under management, Collaborative Fund is a leading source of capital and support for creative entrepreneurs pushing the world forward. As an early investor in Kickstarter, Lyft, Reddit, and AltSchool, Collaborative Fund and its portfolio companies benefit from the community and lessons shared from our investors including Nicholas Negroponte, Chad Hurley, Pharrell Williams, Tony Hsieh, and Jessica Jackley, among many others. Collaborative Fund’s portfolio success fuels great organizations including the Kaiser Family Foundation, California Endowment, and Oxford University Endowment. For more information, visit us at www.collaborativefund.com

About CircleUp: CircleUp is the largest investment marketplace for consumer brands. It’s powered by the Classifier, a machine learning algorithm that selects early-stage brands by analyzing an average of 92,000 data points per company. CircleUp is backed by Union Square Ventures, Canaan Ventures, Collaborative Fund, QED Investors, Google Ventures, and former leaders of Goldman Sachs, Thomson Reuters the Stanford Endowment and financial institutions.