Top ranked tennis pros John Isner and Steve Johnson are the latest high profile figures to invest in Runa, joining a list of investors in the organic guayusa tea company that includes the likes of actor Channing Tatum, music producers Dr. Luke and Mike Dean and manager to the stars Coran Capshaw.
Runa co-founder and president Tyler Gage discussed the news in a call with BevNET Monday, where he revealed he connected with Isner and Johnson through a mutual friend who knew of the two tennis players’ longstanding affinity for the product. Gage declined to disclose the exact size of the investment but indicated the amount was in the “multiple six figures.”
Gage said the company intends allocate its new funds through strengthening its consumer marketing efforts, a component of which will be putting Runa’s new investors to work. Gage said Isner and Johnson’s brand ambassador duties are still in the works but revealed that Runa will tap the two tennis stars to promote the product at this Summer’s US Open.
“The drink has become such an integral part of my everyday routine, and I’m excited about the opportunity to support such a game-changing brand.” Isner said in a press release.
Isner is no stranger to the beverage game, having been sponsored by Vita Coco in the past.
In other happenings at the company, Gage said Runa’s been focusing on furthering its penetration into California and the Pacific Northwest regions.
“We have really solid distribution, growing at over 100 percent a year in our key accounts,” Gage added. “So we’re just putting a lot of energy into going deeper into where we are and into supporting those accounts.”
Runa completed its first capital capital raise in 2012, securing $3 million in funding. Two years later the company closed a series B round, which brought in the aforementioned investments from Tatum and co. Six months later the company brought in nearly $6 million from Metabrand Capital, whose investment in Runa saw the “conscious capital” investment firm take a 25 percent stake in the company.
Runa’s full press release can be found below:
New York (April 1, 2016) – RUNA, a leading natural beverage company producing ready-todrink teas and clean energy drinks made from the guayusa leaf, an energizing Amazonian tea, is excited to announce investment agreements with professional tennis players John Isner and Steve Johnson. The two American tennis stars, who discovered RUNA as an unrivaled source of clean, focused energy, had been using the products for over a year before stumbling across Runa CEO, Tyler Gage, through mutual friends. Isner and Johnson will join high profile investors in Runa, including Channing Tatum, and other esteemed members of the RUNA Tribe, a collection of athletes, artists and musicians who embody what it means to be Runa, or “fully alive,” in order to educate consumers about the benefits of Runa’s products.
“RUNA gives me the energy I need to continuously train and perform at a world-class level,” said Isner, who currently holds the title of the highest-ranking American tennis player. “The drink has become such an integral part of my everyday routine, and I’m excited about the opportunity to support such a game-changing brand.”
Guayusa tea, the key ingredient in RUNA’s beverages, had never been commercialized produced before Runa built a Fair Trade supply chain to source it directly from indigenous family farmers in the Ecuadorian Amazon. The native Kichwa communities have revered the plant for thousands of years, drinking it before sunrise in the jungle as their fuel for the day. With as much caffeine as coffee and a rich profile of polyphenols, flavonoids, and l-theanine, guayusa tea offers energy “from a leaf, not a lab” as Runa promotes.
“Ever since I drank my first bottle of RUNA, I felt the difference from coffee or traditional energy drinks, and quickly realized that not all energy is created equal,” explained professional tennis player, Steve Johnson. “The lasting endurance I get from RUNA carries me through my intense training without any sense of faltering energy levels. “ The company currently offers cans, bottled teas, pyramid infusers and loose-leaf tins, which are available in select retailers nationwide including Whole Foods, Safeway, and Amazon.com.
RUNA is one of the fastest growing beverage brands in the US, recognized as one of Inc Magazine’s 500 Fastest Growing Companies in the country. RUNA makes a line of RTD Teas and Clean Energy Drinks from Guayusa (pronounced “gwhy-you-sa”), a rare Amazonian tea leaf with as much caffeine as coffee and double the antioxidants of green tea. RUNA supports over 3,000 indigenous farming families in Ecuador that sustainably grow guayusa, and RUNA’s products are 100% Organic, Fair Trade, and Non-GMO.