Since the early stages of quarantine, the direct-to-consumer brand landscape has thrived both in terms of top-line sales growth and new channel expansion. More specifically, brands across food & beverage, pet food, and grocery have experienced notable revenue growth. According to recent industry analyses, the global food and beverage e-commerce market is expected to grow from $14.9 billion in 2019 to about $22.4 billion by the end of this fiscal year.
In this report, our team at Conduit sat down to review key performers across three emerging niche verticals within the rapidly scaling DTC food & beverage ecosystem: coffee, low to no alcohol, and condiments. This cohort of brands has proven to be incredibly adept at navigating the pandemic’s effects on consumer habits while maintaining well-capitalized balance sheets.
Taika is a new kind of functional beverage company whose mission is to help millions of people live a healthier lifestyle through an approach they call “stealth health”. Taika’s first product line of canned coffees are keto-friendly and balanced with adaptogens. He’s been ranked as one of the 10 best baristas in the world and his work has been featured in The New York Times, LA Times, Bloomberg, CNBC, and TechCrunch. As a Y Combinator alum, his companies have raised over $10M venture funding from top tier investors including Obvious, CRV, and Founder Collective.
OneBy is a recently launched coffee brand focused on hyper concentrated instant coffee alternatives. The company’s flagship roast is smooth and full-bodied with notes of chocolate and soft fruit, while enabling customers to make coffee like a barista in seconds without the gear, headache, or cost. Doubling down on its core mission to serve cafe quality coffee in seconds, the brand has expanded rapidly across eCommerce channels.
Copper Cow is a beverage brand bringing the Vietnamese coffee experience to the average coffee drinker, with over $3 million in funding to date. After launching a little over three years ago, Copper Cow’s single serve pourer kits have since stocked in around 3,000 doors across the country, in a range of retailers including Bloomingdale’s and Walmart. According to the company, specifically driven by COVID-19 lockdowns, it’s DTC business now makes up about half of the brand’s revenue.
Haus is a direct-to-consumer aperitif startup founded by Helena Price Hambrecht and Woody Hambrecht back in 2019. In January of this year, the brand closed a well-covered $4.5 million seed round from Combine, Haystack Ventures, Homebrew, Shrug Capital, Resolute Venture Partners, Coatue, Dream Machine and Work Life Ventures, among a host of angels.
Kin is a nonalcoholic, functional beverage brand, raising a seed round in 2019 from Canaan Partners and Female Founders Fund. The brand debuted its first product, High Rhode, which is crafted from a combination of balancing adaptogens, nootropics, and botanics. Its vision is to create a solution for experiencing more moments of revelry and high vibe, conscious living.
Ghia is a non-alcoholic aperitif brand focused on recreating a spirit-free version of the ubiquitous Aperol spritz. Back in August the brand closed a multi-million dollar financing from friends and family and industry angels. CEO Melanie Masarin spent time at Glossier, where she was head of retail & offline, and at fast-casual eatery Dig, where she was head of brand and marketing.
Omsom is a seed-stage food startup that sells packaged “starters” to recreate authentic Asian dishes at home. The starter contains sauce, spices and aromatics, and the co-founders say consumers can make a dish in 30 minutes or less. The early-stage startup’s equity ownership group is 50% women of color, including Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code, and Brita Rosenheim, a partner at Better Food Ventures.
Fly By Jing is a Sichuan condiments brand focused on ingredients directly sourced from the Chinese sub-province of Chengdu. In July 2018, CEO Jing Gao launched an online funding project, which ended up being one of the highest backed craft-food projects on Kickstarter. Since that point, she’s raised a multi-million dollar equity round while rebranding in late 2020.
Spiceology is one of the fastest-growing spice companies in America, with a vision to bring life into a very tired category that’s sorely in need of a fresh alternative. In late 2020, the brand announced the closing of a $4.7 million round of financing, led by retail and grocery executive Ty Bennett, with participation by the Cowles Company, Kickstart Funds III & IV and a collection of angel investors.
At Conduit, we connect the world’s best operator-investors and founders building the next generation of startups around the world.
As we scale our platform, understanding key market shifts across verticals will become increasingly vital. Our team will be digging deeper into emerging trends and first movers in the coming weeks, which you can find here.