Nutrition Startup Athletic Greens Raises Alpha Wave-Led $115M Round, Joins Unicorn Ranks

By Janice Bitters Turi,

Wellness and nutrition company Athletic Greens raised $115 million in new funding and is boasting a new valuation of more than $1 billion, making it one of the latest unicorns in the startup world.

The round, the company’s second infusion of venture capital in its 11 years of existence, marks a major turning point for the New Zealand-based startup, Kat Cole, company president and COO told Crunchbase News last week.

“This (last) year was the first time ever with outside capital … in the company’s history that there was a material spend and effort around brand,” she said.

Athletic Greens, founded in 2010 by CEO Chris Ashenden, is known for its flagship product, AG1, a powder that can be made into a drink with 75 vitamins, minerals and nutrients meant to boost health and energy.

While the product was sold on Amazon for a short time, today it is only available through the company’s website. But that doesn’t seem to have slowed Athletic Green’s consumer buy-in, company leaders say.

“We have incredible momentum in our mission to help people around the world take ownership of their daily health by focusing on foundational nutrition,” Ashenden said in a statement. “Consumers are demanding more from the health products they use daily and we have emerged as a leader by helping people realize their functional health goals with an incredibly high-quality and convenient product, AG1.”

Alpha Wave Global led the funding round, with participation from SC.Holdings and David Blitzer’s family office Bolt Ventures.

The round also attracted a long list of sports, business and media figures, including those that swear by the company’s AG1 powder. Among them: Dr. Peter Attia, Mark Vadon, Alex Honnold, Chiney Ogwumike, Anthony Pompliano, Shane Parrish, Jim Toth, Amy Griffin of G9 Ventures, Joe Holder, Packy McCormick’s Not Boring Capital, Jeremy Jauncey, Tanya Sam, Jaime Schmidt, Miki Agrawal, Radha Agrawal, Marcy Simon, Swan Sit, Dan Churchill, Dave Peacock and Harold Hughes.

Rick Gerson, chairman and chief investment officer at Alpha Wave Global, and Mark Vadon, founder of zulily and Blue Nile, and former chairman of Chewy, will join the Athletic Greens board of directors.

“The story of how Chris (Ashenden) and the team built Athletic Greens from scratch to this point while being bootstrapped until very recently is remarkable, and we think the story is only starting,” Gerson said in a statement. “They’ve built an impressive business based on a best-in-class product, an innovative customer acquisition model, and most importantly, a relentless focus on the customer.”

Cole, who has an extensive leadership background in food brands—including about 11 years at Focus Brands, parent company to Cinnabon, Auntie Anne’s, Moe’s, McAllister’s and Jamba Juice—joined Athletic Greens in December.

The new influx of money will be used to scale at basically every level of the organization, Cole said, but she’ll be focusing a lot of that capital into hiring, innovating on the AG1 mixture, unveiling more products in the coming year, broadening the company’s geographic reach, and growing the company’s production capabilities.

The money has allowed the company to market in earnest for the first time, Cole added. So far, the startup’s customer base has grown primarily from word-of-mouth. The company doesn’t disclose the exact number of subscribers that get a shipment of Athletic Greens each month, but the number is in the “hundreds of thousands,” she said.

Her five-year goal is to see that number grow to 20 million global subscribers, half of them in the United States. The company plans to get there through its tried-and-true method of “quality over quantity, less is more, and making a habit easy, not one more thing,” Cole said.

“The fact that (AG1) changes so many lives; there’s a real noble mission of what if just most of us had 50 percent of our family, become AG customers?” she added. “It’s not crazy to think about getting to those numbers of customers. … And there will be a day when Athletic Greens products are available outside of”

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