Bend, Ore.-based Riff Cold Brewed Coffee today announced it has raised $1 million in an angel round of investment from a “who’s who” group of Oregon technology and consumer products executives.
The startup, which launched in April, asked each individual to donate $25,000 rather than seeking a lead investor for the round, president Steve Barham told BevNET in a phone call. Barham, former senior director at LinkedIn, co-founded Riff with CEO Paul Evers, former Stumptown Coffee head of product development Nate Armbrust, and craft beer industry veterans Bobby Evers and Kevin Smyth. The company produces a line of bottled cold brew coffees as well as a multiserve bag-in-box and kegs for food service accounts.
“We have values and culture that is based on collaboration and community, so when we extended that to our fundraising efforts we wanted to create something that was grassroots, community-based, and really to take a tribal approach,” Barham told BevNET. “We wanted a group of backers of fans who believed in us as founders and believed in our mission in the cold brew coffee space.”
The round included investments from more than a dozen entrepreneurs and executives, including Hydroflask CEO Scott Allan, Smarsh founder and CEO Steve Marsh, Sightbox founder and CEO Travis Rush, and VTF Capital partner Will Young.
Riff also announced that it has created a four-person advisory board with CPG industry veterans including Humm Kombucha co-founder and CEO Jamie Danek, Canvas co-founder and CEO Sarah Pool, consultant Bump Williams, and former Marketo CMO Sanjay Dholakia. According to Barham, the advisory board members have taken equity stakes in the company.
“When you look at consumer brands today, especially ones in the craft space, it’s about authenticity and it’s about having an innovative product, it’s about having products that are all natural and good for you.” Barham said, adding that he believed Pool and Danek’s experiences building similar lifestyle brands with healthy beverages would help guide Riff to do the same. “So that’s what we want to do with Riff. We want to take something that’s natural, take something that’s good for you, and make it not only a product that tastes good and is delicious but is attached to a lifestyle. In Riff’s case that’s something that’s fun and spontaneous.”
Paul Evers told BevNET that the company looked to tech industry investors to find people and companies who could provide “meaningful engagement” with consumers through digital technology.
“We want to make sure that feels fairly seamless so you’re not cognitively aware of migrating from an experience in store, or in a restaurant or bar, or in our tap room, or in the digital space so it all feels like it’s engaging on the same level of authenticity and meaning,” Evers said.
The brand is currently set to reach over 500 total points of distribution by the end of the year across retail, on-premise, and office accounts. According to Evers, Riff is looking to make Washington and Idaho its first plays outside of Oregon, while continuing to build its presence in-state through after being authorized for sale at Oregon Safeway/Albertsons stores.
Much of the funding will go toward operating the company’s 9,000 square foot production facility in Redmond, Ore. as well as the company’s cold brew tap room which is set to open next month. Riff currently operates a “Tapshack” adjacent to the University of Oregon in Eugene which employs graduate students.
“We’re giving the graduate students full reign to experiment with the menu and explore options with plant-based dairy, with nitro, and other interesting potential drink recipes,” Evers said. “The cool thing is that these young men and women are so bright we expect to learn a lot from them to bring back to our headquarters here in Bend.”