Beverage company Koia, which makes fresh, plant-based protein drinks, announced Tuesday it had closed a $7.5 million seed round of financing led by KarpReilly LLC.
Koia CEO Chris Hunter, who joined the company in 2016, lives in San Diego, one of the cities in which the company is considering establishing its corporate headquarters.
He previously co-founded Phusion Projects Inc., the company behind the alcoholic energy drink Four Loko.
Koia, founded in 2013 in Chicago, began selling its products at Whole Foods Market stores across the U.S. in late 2016. The drinks, which are almond milk-based, get their protein from a blend of brown rice, hemp, and pea proteins. They include no soy, dairy, gluten or GMO ingredients.
The products are manufactured in the city of Yorba Linda, in Orange County.
The funding will be used to hire more employees, broaden its retail reach and launch a marketing campaign, the company said.
Existing institutional investor AccelFoods, which invests in food and beverage companies, participated in the round.
“Chris Hunter is a proven leader capable of building a world-class management team to grow this innovative next-generation brand,” said Jordan Gaspar, AccelFoods co-founder and managing partner. “The consumer appetite for plant-based protein is only beginning.”
Bill Moses, the founder of KeVita, a sparkling probiotic drink company that was sold to PepsiCo in 2016, will join Koia's board of directors as part of the funding agreement.
"We rarely encounter a business that so early on has so clearly resonated with both retailers and consumers alike,” said Allan Karp, co-founder of KarpReilly, which manages funds and affiliates with total capital commitments of over $500 million. “Combined with an experienced and talented group of management, advisors, and co-investors we are confident that Koia is well positioned to become a category leader."