Back to the Roots grabs $5 mln seed

California-based food company Back to the Roots has raised $5 million in seed funding. Investors included return backers Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS and John Foraker, founder of Annie’s. According to the company, it will leave the funding round open for 30 days for accredited investors led by Agency of Trillions to participate via the crowdfunding platform CircleUp.



Back to the Roots®, a California company pioneering the way people reconnect with food, announced today that it has completed a strategic seed financing round, totaling $5 million. It will also be leaving the round open for investment for thirty days by accredited investors through a crowdfunding campaign on CircleUp led by Agency of Trillions. Previous investors, Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS, John Foraker, founder of Annie’s, and Nicolas Jammet, co-founder of Sweetgreen, also joining the round.

In a rare mix of private and public equity funding, $3 million of the round is being raised through the San Francisco-based technology company, CircleUp, which has quickly become a leader in the equity-based crowdfunding scene over the past year. “As we looked to raise this seed round, it was clear that we wanted to take a similar approach, and it has been so exciting to be able to bring this opportunity back to our passionate community.” said co-founder, Nikhil Arora.

This is the first official round Back to the Roots has raised. It previously raised a $2 million convertible note in June 2015, but prior to that, had bootstrapped the company, using business plan competition prize money, Kickstarter, and bank loans. In fact, its initial funding was just a $5,000 grant, which came from UC Berkeley, the cofounders’ alma mater, over five years ago.

With the new funding, Back to the Roots has plans for major growth. 2015 already saw it increase from three to eighteen total products, expand from Ready to Grow to Ready to Eat lines, with its new, award-winning 100% stoneground breakfast cereals and Organic Breakfast Toppers, and sign an exclusive national partnership with Sodexo to launch in K-12 schools.

The funding will be used to accelerate product development (10 new products in the pipeline for 2016), expand distribution into retailers and schools, and build the team at its Oakland headquarters. “We see an exciting opportunity to ‘Undo Food™’, and continue to create a food company for this next generation that goes beyond natural/organic and focuses on radical transparency, sustainability, and great design. We want to bring the same level of trust that families feel when they grow their own food, directly to the grocery aisle and ready to eat food,” said co-founder, Alejandro Velez.

About Back to the Roots
Back to the Roots is a food company on a mission to Undo Food™ and reconnect families back to where it comes from through fun, innovative, and delicious Ready to Grow and Ready to Eat products. It was founded in 2009 by then college seniors, Alejandro Velez and Nikhil Arora, after they discovered how to grow organic, gourmet mushrooms on recycled coffee grounds. Since then, Back to the Roots has evolved from urban mushroom farming into a thriving business that has received national acclaim and accolades. Back to the Roots currently sells its products in over 14,000 stores worldwide, including Whole Foods Market, Target, Costco, The Home Depot, Nordstrom, Petco, Cost Plus World Market, Loblaw, Giant Eagle, Wegmans, The Fresh Market, Crate & Barrel, Urban Outfitters, Safeway, Kroger, and Amazon. Nikhil and Alejandro have been honored with several awards recognizing their efforts, including BusinessWeek’s “Top 25 Entrepreneurs under 25,” Inc.’s “30 Under 30,” Inc. 500, Forbes’ “30 Under 30,” and CNN’s “10 Next Entrepreneurs to Watch.” In addition, Back to the Roots was named a 2013 Martha Stewart Top Ten American Made honoree and recognized by President Obama as Champions of Change.

About CircleUp
CircleUp is an online marketplace for private investing. It provides accredited investors free access to direct investments in high-growth consumer product and retail private companies that were previously difficult to identify and access. For retail and consumer product entrepreneurs, it offers an efficient way to access a network of sophisticated investors as well as value added partners.

Agency of Trillions
Agency of Trillions, a MAYA Company, is a social innovation and creative agency. Funded by Peter Guber and Tony Robbins, Agency of Trillions works with brands and start-ups committed to integrating Made Media™ and collaborative innovation into their core businesses.