Freshly Acquired by Nestlé USA for $1.5 Billion USD

Freshly Acquired by Nestlé USA for $1.5 billion

Huge congratulations to Michael, Carter and the team at Freshly who we’ve been fortunate to back since their earliest days

Freshly Inc. announced that it has been acquired by Nestlé USA. The deal values Freshly at $1.5bn, including potential earnouts contingent to the successful growth of the business. This transaction was signed and closed on October 30th, 2020.

We’ve been fortunate to back them from their early days and we would like to take a moment to look back on our journey together.

We first met Michael Wystrach and his co-founder, Carter Comstock in 2015 when they had first started Freshly and were raising their Seed round. Over the past five years, it has been incredibly exciting to watch the company grow and develop from a small commissary in Phoenix, Arizona into the largest ready-to-eat meal subscription service in the United States of America.

From the very beginning, we were captivated by their passion and vision to provide people everywhere with fully prepared, nutritious meals that make it easy to eat healthy food. Both founders were busy professionals who were motivated by their own personal experiences of trying to find a way to eat healthy while not spending hours shopping and in the kitchen. So, they started Freshly to bring healthy and wholesome meals to busy people in the smallest towns to the largest cities.

While we believed in Michael and Carter, we also saw the opportunity that Freshly had to create a new market category, which they could capitalize on by using a “direct to consumer” business model, which had been successfully used by Dollar Shave Club, another White Star portfolio company. While many food companies delivered the emerging “grocery box” model, our thesis was that people were getting so busy that ready-to-eat food delivery where the customer did not have to take time to prepare anything was more compelling in the long run.

We knew that Freshly would have mass-market appeal and were not surprised when the business quickly took off. As the company rapidly grew, they moved headquarters from Arizona to New York, and for a time operated from our office in midtown following the initial seed investment we made in February 2015. Soon after settling in NYC, and off the back of incredible execution, it did not take them too long (4 months later) to raise a $7m Series A led by Highland Capital. We also increased our stake in this round and wrote more about that decision in a blog post HERE.

The pivotal moment came in early 2016. Freshly was going full steam ahead and needed additional runway before raising its Series B. Our partners, Eric and Jean-Francois flew to visit Freshly’s first food processing facility and saw first-hand the huge potential business moat that was underpinned in everything Michael and Carter are leading. The facility was working around the clock to fulfill the skyrocketing demand, utilizing several cooling trucks parked outside to improvise for lack of additional storage. A new facility had just been secured to move from a 10,000 sq. ft facility into a 60,000 sq. ft facility in Phoenix, and Freshly needed to start building the new site very quickly.

Following the visit and seeing the exploding demand from customers across the West Coast, we did not hesitate to lead a $3m Series A extension for the next stage of the company. Several months later, Freshly raised a $21m Series B led by Insight Venture Partners with re-investment from each Highland Capital and White Star Capital, and we watched the company expand across America, triple in size year-over-year and improve on all metrics.

Our relationship with Michael and Carter has evolved beyond Freshly. They’ve become great friends to White Star while serving as mentors and advisors to other direct to consumer founders in our portfolio, like Butternut Box, an up and coming fresh dog food delivery company in the U.K. And as fate would have it, White Star met one of its Partners, Nick Stocks, through the work we did in Freshly’s Series B round. It seems like Freshly is really the gift that keeps on giving ☺.

In June 2017, capitalizing on its success, and fast growth, Freshly successfully raised a $77m Series C round led by Nestlé SA, with again the re-investment of all previous investors into the financing round. In addition to our direct investment by our first fund, we were able to provide the opportunity for our Limited Partners to co-invest directly in Freshly through various Series C extension rounds, completed in 2018 and earlier this year, enabling them to be part of this amazing growth story and realize substantial returns in excess of their Fund I investment.

Freshly is our second billion dollar plus exit in the direct-to-consumer sector after Dollar Shave Club, which was acquired by Unilever in 2016, and a 7th exit out of 18 portfolio companies in Fund I. In total, we invested 10% of White Star Fund I in Freshly between Seed and Series C, resulting in multiple of 12.2x our investment with an overall IRR reaching 65%.

We congratulate the company on this major milestone and are overjoyed to have been a part of it!

Check out our recent Foodtech deep-dive largely inspired by our exposure to the space through our investment in Freshly. In it, we explore the landscape of products and services across various subsectors, from online groceries and food delivery to next-gen food and kitchen tech. We are excited about not only the growth of the space in general but also anticipate other great stories like Freshly to start making headlines.

If you are building anything in the Foodtech space, please feel free to get in touch with [email protected]

About White Star Capital

White Star Capital is a global multi-stage technology investment platform that invests in exceptional entrepreneurs building ambitious, international businesses. Operating out of New York, London, Paris, Montreal, Toronto, Tokyo, Singapore and Hong Kong, our presence, perspective, and people enable us to partner closely with our Founders to help them scale internationally from Series A onwards.

Find out more about how we venture beyond at www.whitestarcapital.com or follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.


Freshly Acquired by Nestlé USA for $1.5 Billion USD was originally published in Venture Beyond on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Related Articles

Here's the pitch deck a former P&G brand manager used to raise $1.25 million to build the 'Olay of food' with his keto startup

Summary List PlacementHealth and wellness direct-to-consumer brands have become hot in recent years, and a 2-year-old food startup is hoping to ride the wave. 
Uprising Food, which makes low-carb breads and crisps, has raised $1.25 million in Series A funding, the company said. It also got a distribution deal with Midwest grocery chain Meijer to help the direct-to-consumer brand expand to retail.
The company was founded by former Procter & Gamble brand manager William Schumacher, his sister Kate Schumacher, and Blue Oven Bakery founders Mark and Sara Frommeyer. 
Uprising claims its products are higher in fiber and nutritional value than other breads because it uses ingredients like egg whites, MCT oil and almond flour. Its flagship product is a bread called the Keto Kube, made with baking powder rather than yeast. 
Read more: Investors from Greycroft, Lerer Hippeau, and others say these 20 direct-to-consumer startups will take off in 2021
The startup has aimed at followers of the keto diet — a high-fat, low-carb diet that’s become popular among people looking to shed weight or regulate health conditions like diabetes and epilepsy. But it plans to use the funding to broaden its base, Schumacher said.
“I want to build the Olay of food and be the food brand of the masses, but I want to do it in a way that is beautiful, inspiring, and really lifts people up — just as Olay did with skincare,” Schumacher told Insider.
Uprising intends to use the new funding to hire more people, boost its sales and marketing, and eventually expand to new categories like chips, pasta and cookies, and build a subscription model.
Like brands such as Banza, Beyond Meat, and Magic Spoon, Uprising Food has benefitted from people getting more health-conscious. The health food market is expected to reach $557.6 billion in global sales in 2024, according to a report from Research and Markets, and there’s room for the market to grow, per Nielsen.
Even so, Uprising will face growing competition as it looks to expand to other categories like pasta and cookies, where consumers have plenty of choices.
Schumacher told Insider that the company’s sales had been growing 10x year-over-year since its launch, though he declined to give specifics. He said that the ultimate goal was being acquired by a food conglomerate.
Nick Brien, former Dentsu US and Americas CEO, said that he decided to invest in Uprising because he believes that the food industry is ripe for disruption.
“Having worked for the likes of General Mills, Nestlé, Kellogg, and P&G in my agency life, I have seen how many [of them] have really focused on health and wellness for the masses,” he said.
The funding round was led by Trousdale Ventures as well as Brien. Food entrepreneurs Pressed Juicery’s Hayden Slater, Health-Ade’s Daina Trout, and Sugarfina’s Rosie O’Neill and Josh Resnick also participated.
Below is Uprising Food’s fundraising deck.Uprising wants to make healthy foods for the masses.

It aims to expand beyond bread and play in the health, weight loss and nutrition categories.

The company caters to health-conscious consumers, from those seeking gluten-free and dairy-free alternatives to paleo and keto diet enthusiasts.

The company wants to be the ‘Olay of food’ and bring healthy food to the masses. It also takes inspiration from ice cream maker Halo Top.

Uprising claims its products are higher in fiber and nutritional value than competitors.

Uprising sees itself as catering to health, taste and the masses.

The company is expanding into its second product category, chips.

With the latest funding, Uprising intends to boost its sales and marketing and expand to new categories.

The company seeks to bring down its customer acquisition costs while trying to boost recurring revenue from subscriptions.

The company targets those are extremely conscious about their health and those who follow a healthy lifestyle but are not militant about it.

It estimates that the first group is a $134 million opportunity.

The company thinks the second group is a bigger opportunity at $8.4 billion and plans to reach it through retail stores.

Uprising claims that its sales have been growing 10x year-over-year since its launch.

Ultimately, Uprising hopes to get acquired like Halo Top and Annie’s.

The company’s founders are former P&G brand manager William Schumacher, his sister Kate Schumacher, and Blue Oven Bakery founders Mark and Sara Frommeyer.

Responses

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Receive the latest news

Subscribe To Our Weekly Newsletter

Get notified about chronicles from TreatMyBrand directly in your inbox