Proud Source Water has raised $6 million in a financing round led by AF Ventures, the company announced today.
Speaking with BevNET, Proud Source Water president CJ Pennington said the round will go towards increasing sales and marketing efforts for the bottled water brand. Founded in 2016, Idaho-based Proud Source Water is currently available in about 15,000 stores nationwide (including Whole Foods and Albertsons accounts) but has been “understaffed” and “very scrappy,” Pennington said. Though the company employs 30 people, it does not utilize co-packers and most of its full time staff work at the company’s sourcing and manufacturing plant in Mackay, Idaho.
“We’re looking to tell our story,” Pennington said. “The business is, in a big way, needing some more support on the sales front. The funds will be used to utilize and propel the business forward in marketing and retail.”
Packaged in aluminum bottles, Proud Source Water has fueled growth by focusing on sustainability. In addition to emphasizing recycling and reduced plastic usage, the company has committed to utilize no more than 5% of its natural spring water source’s capacity and is a certified B Corp company. This month, the company partnered with the Surfrider Foundation to promote ocean and beach conservation.
Proud Source Water chose to partner with AF Ventures (formerly AccelFoods) because of the food and beverage investment fund’s track record for scaling early stage brands, Pennington said. Proud Source Water intends to work with the firm to identify potential new hires and offer guidance as the brand grows its retail presence.
“Proud Source is a true challenger brand providing a much-needed alternative to plastic bottles in the bottled-water market with their recyclable aluminum packaging,” Jordan Gaspar, managing partner at AF Ventures, told BevNET in an email. “Coupled with a larger mission rooted around conscious responsibility and job advancement, we could not be more impressed by Proud Source’s commitment to community, craft, and consumers.”
According to Pennington, the brand will focus on West Coast expansion this year. Largely available in the natural and conventional grocery channel, he said Proud Source Water will look to add convenience stores in the coming months. The company will also look to expand on-premise, particularly in accounts that have moved to phase out or ban plastic bottles, such as aquariums, zoos, hotels, fast casual dining and airports.
Pennington added that the brand Proud Source Water is preparing new innovations to launch later this year.
“We will now be in our third review with a lot of our key retailers and the question that comes up every fall or winter is ‘What’s next?’” Pennington said. “So we’re excited that our retail partners are asking those types of questions and we’re looking to deliver on that, hopefully sometime soon.”