ELEMENT Snacks aims to “reinvent” rice cakes with help from $2 million in Series Seed funds

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Element Snacks' original packaging is bright and transparent. Source: ELEMENT Snacks
Element Snacks' original packaging is bright and transparent. Source: ELEMENT Snacks

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An injection of $2 million in Series Seed funds will help startup ELEMENT Snacks “reinvent rice cakes into fun snacks” by enabling it to expand distribution and roll out new packaging and branding, the company announced March 3. 

“We have spent the last two years getting close to our customers and listening to their feedback”​ on how to better distinguish ELEMENT Snacks’ creamy fruit and chocolate topped gluten-free corn and rice cakes as a healthy indulgence, the company’s co-founder Nadia Leonelli told FoodNavigator-USA.

She explained the new packaging, which was redesigned with help from Flood Creative, is “almost ‘lickable,’” ​and brings out the “yummy feel”​ of her snack by highlighting the specific flavors and products’ creaminess with the help of a transparent window and color coding that helps consumers find the flavor they want.

At the same time, the packages clearly call out the products’ low calorie count, “which supports our ‘indulgent without the guilt’ concept,”​ she said. It also lists all the products’ certifications and features, including non-GMO and vegan certifications, as well as being free from preservatives, milk hormones, gluten, artificial flavors, corn syrup, yeast, trans fat, cholesterol and BPA.

The award-winning redesign, which Leonelli says demonstrates the company’s commitment to transparency in packaging as well as labeling, will launch in May following the introduction of a 360-degree marketing plan focused both business-to-business and business-to-consumer.

The marketing plan will include a revamped website, new ads and a social media discussion around the new design, she said.

The Series Seed funding also will help ELEMENT Snacks strengthen its operations by expanding its team, establishing new partnerships and investing in its e-commerce as well as retailer relationships in different regions, Leonelli said.

Looking forward she said 2016 will be a “transformational year for us,”​ and the company will continue to build on the 300% growth it saw in its first two years – a notable achievement given its limited investment funds during that time.

[Read more about ELEMENT Snacks got its start and raised initial funds HERE​.]

AccelFoods offers a helping hand

Many of the changes ELEMENT Snacks has taken on were inspired and made possible by help from AccelFoods’ accelerator program, in which the company participated in 2015 and gained hands-on operating support, business resources and two prior rounds of funding.

“AccelFoods has changed the way we run our business and has made it possible for us to raise the capital,”​ Leonelli said.

Indeed, AccelFoods is a primary investor in the company – leading the Series Seed funding by drawing from its newly launched Early Growth Fund.

“AccelFoods Fund II has a $20 million pool of committed capital available to invest in companies from inception through the growth stage of their business,” ​Jordan Gaspar, co-founder and managing partner at AccelFoods, told FoodNavigator-USA.

She further explained: “This capital is allocated to our accelerator companies, as well as to investments in select companies that have graduated from the accelerator generating in excess of a million dollars of revenue. Check sizes will range from $50,000 to $2 million depending on the specifics of each investment.”

The accelerator decided to invest in ELEMENT Snacks after working closely with the company for the past year on a 360 degree infrastructure build-out, Gaspar said.

“We have been extremely impressed with the ELEMENT management team, having had the opportunity to watch the business grow organically several hundred percent without a significant infusion of capital. The team is collaborative, relentless, resourceful and, most importantly, uncompromising when it comes to delivering a quality product and consumer experience,”​ Gaspar said.

“Beyond that,”​ she added, “the product fits a true need in the market for a healthy, indulgent snack options. Making a seven-figure investment into ELEMENT Snacks was an obvious choice.”

AccelFoods also provided more than funding – it has provided a network of support, Leonelli said.

“I believe that one of the biggest challenges for startups is isolation and Accel has opened doors we could not reach ourselves in this short time, which has made an enormous difference, not only in the capital raise but in everyday business life,”​ she said, adding, “learning from others’ experiences and mistakes reduces our risks.”

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