Good Culture Lands $3 Million Investment

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The young company, which entered the sleepy cottage cheese category slightly more than year ago, first caught the attention of high profile investors CAVU Venture Partners and 301 INC, the business development and venturing unit of food giant General Mills, last year.

At the time, the deal was notable for how early in development the company was when it secured the funding. But the investors said then that they were confident that good culture was a smart bet even as it was an early bet – especially considering how cycle times are compressing and large companies are snapping up innovative startups at earlier and earlier stages.

And good culture did not let them down. In the past year, it expanded distribution to Whole Foods Market, Sprouts, Wegman’s, Meijer, select ShopRite and Publix as well as other grocers nationwide, and saw sales climb more than 10 times, co-founder and CEO Jesse Merrill told FoodNavigator-USA.

With numbers like that CAVU Venture Partners’ and 301 INC’s decision this month to extend their partnership with good culture makes sense.

Read the complete article from the Food Navigator USA here.

Kite Hill

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General Mills’ latest investment is part of $18 million going into Kite Hill, which makes versions of cheese and yogurt from nuts — no cows involved.

“Plant-based used to be more synonymous with sacrifice than with taste,” said John Haugen, vice president and general manager of 301 INC, General Mills’ venture capital arm. “Now, companies like Kite Hill are able to deliver plant-based products that taste good.”

Most small food companies struggle to develop on a larger scale, which is why Kite Hill elected to take the investment from 301 instead of raising capital through one of the many accelerators and incubators set up to support small food businesses or from a conventional venture capital firm. Part of the goal in partnering with a strategic such as General Mills, says Matthew Sade, CEO at Kite Hill, is to help the brand expand into more channels.

“There’s been obvious opportunity now to expand distribution and bring these products to a broader audience. To do that we need to both scale the organization, scale manufacturing and invest in building our brand,” says Sade. “General Mills has tremendous expertise around manufacturing and the supply chain, things that a company like ours can really benefit from as we expect to grow aggressively.”

Read the full New York Times article here and the one from Project Nosh here.

Forward Food Competition & 301 INC

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Net Impact announces the Forward Food Competition, an opportunity to pitch a sustainable food idea to a panel of industry experts.  Applicants can submit their ideas through the Net Impact website until May 15, 2016. The Competition is supported by lead sponsor, Campbell Soup Company, and General Mills.

“Not only is the Forward Food Competition a natural extension of our strong partnership with Net Impact, but it also reflects our commitment to innovation in food,” said John Haugen, Vice President and General Manager of 301 INC, the new business development and venturing unit within General Mills. “We recognize that the vision and passion of today’s entrepreneurs can meet consumer needs in meaningful ways. That’s why we invest time and money to help them develop, grow and expand their businesses.”

Forward Food invites participants to submit an original business idea for the food and beverage space. Applicants should present ideas that meet a consumer need as well as create economic, social and environmental value. Ideas focusing on creating new and sustainable products, solving food waste or improving food systems are encouraged. An in-house team of Net Impact judges will review and provide feedback to each submission. Ten finalists will be asked to submit a one-minute pitch video to be sent to an expert judging panel.

Read the entire press release here.

301 Inc in USA Today

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Rather than risk being outflanked or surprised by hot, young food-industry disruptors, General Mills is partnering with entrepreneurs through its business development and venture capital arm, 301 INC, to take ownership stakes and help their businesses grow.

“It gives us an opportunity to build that relationship early and to help accelerate their growth,” says John Haugen, vice president of 301, which led a $1.25 million funding round for Tio Gazpacho that closed last week. “Down the road it can create opportunities for those brands to become part of General Mills.”

Big packaged-food companies are targeting small players as a way of reaching health-conscious consumers who might otherwise shun them. In the process, the giants can learn from the small, nimble start-ups.

Read the whole article here.

301 INC + Tio Gazpacho

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Innovative bottled soup brand Tio Gazpacho has completed a $1.25 million Series A funding round led by 301 INC, General Mills’ business development and venturing unit. Proceeds from the round, which was raised on equity crowdfunding platform CircleUp, will go toward new sales and marketing initiatives designed to expand placement and awareness of Tio Gazpacho’s high pressure processed, ready-to-drink soups. The company will also use some of the investment for the development of a new sub-line designed for conventional grocery and foodservice channels.

Launched in 2014, Tio Gazpacho markets a four-SKU line of super-premium, organic fruit and vegetable-based gazpacho drinks. Leading with the tagline “no bowl required,” the products won acclaim for their ultra high level of freshness and flavor and as conveniently packaged and healthy soups that span a range of use occasions.

Read all the details here.

301 INC teams up with CircleUp

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CircleUp is an online marketplace that matches investors with consumer products and retail companies. 301 INC is thrilled to be the first Fortune 500 company to launch an investment fund through their platform. Find out all the exciting details here.

301 INC on Fortune.com

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Thanks to Fortune.com for interviewing our own John Haugen. The article is a great overview on the relationship with General Mills and our visions for 301 INC. Read the complete article here.