Ripple Foods Bags $30M Led by GV

by Scott Martin

Originally published on: www.wsj.com

WSJ-funding

Ripple Foods, a maker of dairy-free milk, has been served up $30 million in Series B funding led by GV.

Emeryville, Calif.-based Ripple Foods, formed by Adam Lowry and Neil Renninger, is the developer of a plant-based, milk-like beverage that offers more protein than rice or almond drinks.

The duo at Ripple Foods say that figuring out how to process yellow peas has yielded a superior taste and texture to the likes of almond, rice or soy drinks.

“Traditional food and beverage companies don’t do a lot of R&D, so the innovation has to come from startups,” said Mr. Renninger.

Ripple Foods in April launched its beverage into Whole Foods stores in the West Coast, Midwest and is extending toward the East Coast. The company is launching its drink into Target stores nationwide July 25.

“If you take a look at how almost every upstart launches in the CPG channel, you almost never see national launches. With Ripple, they went to Whole Foods and then with Target nationally,” said GV General Partner Andy Wheeler, who joined the board with the investment.

Food and beverage investments hit an all-time high in 2015. Total investments in U.S.-based startups in the sector hit $603.6 million last year. That is more invested in the sector than any year since Dow Jones VentureSource began tracking the data in 1992.

Investors participating in the new round of funding for Ripple Foods included Prelude Ventures, Tao Capital Partners, Tim Koogle, Khosla Ventures, S2G, Collaborative Fund, Blueberry Ventures, Seth Goldman, and Radicle Impact.

Ripple Foods has 30 employees. With the new funding, the co-founders expect to add 40 employees by 2017, including R&D, sales, marketing and back office support.

The beverage startup in December picked up $13.6 million in series A funding for its plans to go to market with its product in 2016.

Mr. Lowry also co-founded Method Products Inc., the San Francisco-based startup whose biodegradable soap and cleaning products are sold in Target, Walgreens and Safeway.

Ripple Foods’s co-founders and GV’s Mr. Wheeler declined to comment on sales of the company’s Ripple drink so far. Ripple Foods, however, only caught the attention of Mr. Wheeler a couple months ago, after it hit the market with Whole Foods.

The co-founders have plans to launch more dairy alternatives into the market in the months ahead. Next up Ripple Foods could launch a dairy-free yogurt, cheese or ice cream, they said. The two entrepreneurs expect to have several dairy alternatives in the market by next year.

“The initial movement is really strong. The consumer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Mr. Lowry.