Bulletproof 360 added some extra padding to its vest Wednesday when the butter coffee and FATwater-maker announced it closed its Series B funding rounding with more than $19 million in new investments.
The round was led by CAVU Venture Partners, a well-known food and beverage investment firm which boasts alumni brands such as vitaminwater, Sweet Leaf Tea and Deep Eddy Vodka. The Bulletproof investment comes off the back of a big return in November after portfolio company Bai sold to Dr Pepper Snapple Group for $1.7 billion. CAVU partner Rohan Oza will join Bulletproof’s board of directors.
“We feel Bulletproof has created a whole new category around products that fuel human performance. We’re excited to partner with [founder and CEO Dave Asprey] and the Bulletproof team to continue the company’s growth momentum,” Oza said in a press release.
Trinity Ventures also participated in the round. An early Starbucks and Jamba Juice backer, Trinity was also an early backer of Bulletproof during its $9 million Series A round in 2015.
Asprey told BevNET the closing of the round comes as the company is seeing its grocery and natural products business “take off like crazy” as its products find shelf space in more than 1,000 retail stores, including Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Central Market. The growing brick-and-mortar presence accompanies Bulletproof’s thriving eCommerce business and its own cafe in Santa Monica, California.
The new capital is expected to go toward retail expansion in New York City and other unannounced locations, according to the press release.
Founded in 2013 after Asprey began blogging about his healthy fat-based diet, Bulletproof has expanded its product portfolio beyond its flagship butter coffee into its ready-to-drink FATwater, snack bars, and supplements. The company is also working on a ready-to-drink coffee that is still “on the road map” in terms of development.
“To go through all of those, and to expand the product team to focus on R&D and keep making products that radically change people’s lives … through all three distribution channels, it takes real venture funding,” Asprey said.
Asprey, who comes from a Silicon Valley technology and biohacking background, said his roots in the tech world were a big boon to Bulletproof’s initial funding efforts. His connections managed to bring on various levels of involvement from many big names in tech entrepreneurship, including InfoSpace founder and current Moon Express CEO Naveen Jain.
Bulletproof’s tech roots can also be shown in their hiring. Recently hired Chief Operating Officer Anna Collins comes from Amazon and is focused on driving growth across all channels for each product line to further disrupt the traditional beverage business model. According to Asprey, machine learning and big-data analytics are helping to direct both growth and strategy.
“I’ve lived through disruptive industries multiple times and done startups that were backed by different groups including Trinity Ventures, so when it was time to fund Bulletproof, I was able to go and talk to venture firms where I had worked for a while as an entrepreneur,” Asprey said. “It’s one thing to a dozen firms and pick the best deal, it’s another to go to guys who you’ve know for decades and that you know and trust. It makes it a lot more fun.”
Although his relationship with CAVU is more recent, Oza has been involved with Bulletproof before the Series B round. Asprey said Oza’s food and beverage background has made him a reliable advisor on issues like branding, messaging, and managing influencer relationships.
As Bulletproof continues to grow, coffee will continue to be a major part of the brand, but Asprey said the ultimate goal will always be to make products that promote health and performance.
“We don’t fit into just the coffee category, even though it’s our flagship product, this is about human performance,” he said.