Los Angeles-based kombucha maker Better Booch announced today it has raised $2.5 million in a funding round led by Crush Ventures, the venture capital arm of artist management firm Crush Music.
Founded by musicians Trey and Ashleigh Lockerbie, Better Booch launched in Los Angeles area farmers markets in 2012. Speaking with BevNET this week, the co-founders said they have “bootstrapped” the company since the launch by generating cash flow and reinvesting it into the brand. The funding round is the first time the brand has taken outside money.
“We didn’t start Better Booch to become a global brand, but after a few years we realized we were on to something,” Ashleigh Lockerbie told BevNET. “We’ve been offered investment in the past and we turned it down because we wanted to maintain ownership and to make sure that the product stayed as high quality as possible. But over the past seven years we’ve really mastered the process and we’ve learned, through trial and error and a lot of research, how to do that in a really consistent way.”
Better Booch is currently sold in about 1,000 locations primarily in Southern California, including independent retailers and chains such as Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Safeway. The brand also has a limited presence in Northern California, Arizona, Nevada, and parts of the Midwest. Trey Lockerbie said the funding will allow the brand to grow distribution, including a planned expansion into Colorado.
The line includes seven SKUs made with teas, herbs and botanicals including original, Cherry Retreat, Citrus Sunrise, Ginger Boost, Golden Pear, Morning Glory, and Rose Bliss flavors. Each variety is available in 16 oz cans for $2.99 or 16 oz. bottles for $3.49.
According to Trey Lockerbie, Crush Ventures will help the brand land placements at music venues and bars where kombucha could potentially serve as a non-alcoholic beverage option for consumers. Ashleigh Lockebrie noted that the music management firm could also allow for opportunities to partner with its roster of artists — which include pop stars and rock bands such as Sia, Lorde, Green Day, Weezer, and Lykke Li. However, no partnerships have been discussed as of yet.
Crush Ventures has previously invested in alcohol brands including Brooklyn Gin, Drops of Jupiter, and Yola Mezcal, to which Better Booch will also look to create partnerships. According to Ashleigh Lockerbie, Better Booch will work with Yola Mezcal to have a presence at the brand’s Yola Dia music festival in August.
Ashleigh Lockerbie added that the company “hasn’t spent one dollar” on marketing to date, and has built word of mouth through events and social media. Working with Crush, she said, will give the brand access to a broad marketing department to support its regional expansions.
“[Crush has] developed and launched so many artists,” she said. “They really understand what it takes to take a brand, an artist, from no name to worldwide recognition.”
According to Trey Lockerbie, the round also featured individual investors including Los Angeles based musicians and friends of the co-founders.
“Being musicians, we want to be affiliated with the music scene and the entertainment scene in general,” he said. “We want to give back to the community that gave us so much early on in our careers.”