Cash from the round - led by VMG Partners and supported by Prolog ventures, Karp Reilly, Riverpark Ventures and other existing investors - will help fund Spindrift’s first national advertising campaign, said founder Bill Creelman, who began making his own drinks in 2010 to help kick his Diet Coke habit and has since won business with Starbucks, Kroger, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Panera, Target, and multiple online platforms.
“This new capital now allows us to continue to support our current business partners, increase awareness of our real difference through larger marketing initiatives, and support the addition of new infrastructure to support Spindrift’s growing footprint.”
The ad campaign will include all elements of paid, earned and owned media across multiple channels with a focus on 'real ingredients,' said Creelman, who is also building new infrastructure closer to the family farms Spindrift sources its fruits from.
Spindrift has experienced 1000% revenue growth over the past 36 months, and expects to triple distribution to 25,000+ doors in 2018, said Creelman, who has now completely phased out natural flavors from his beverages, and discontinued the company’s sugar-sweetened soda line to focus exclusively on unsweetened sparkling waters.
Half and half: 'It took us about two years to figure out how to do it'
Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA at the Natural Products Expo West show in Anaheim last week about Spindrift's new five-calorie 'half & half' sparkling tea, which combines carbonated water, lemon juice and brewed black tea, Creelman said: "Tea can be pretty heavy, and we wanted to keep it light and refreshing.
"We didn't want to create another RTD tea, we wanted it to be distinctly a sparkling water, and it took us about two years to figure out how to do it."
While retailers are devoting more space to low and zero calorie beverages, the category can get confusing where diet or low cal soda products sit alongside beverages containing sweeteners, he said.
"There are a lot of products out there that are labeled waters but they have sweeteners or sweetener replacements.... so what we're asking for and hoping to create is a sparking water set, where unsweetened products have a home and consumers understand what they are getting.
"Our biggest challenge is getting the space on shelf because our products turn really quickly," added Creelman, who previously raised around $10m in two funding rounds in April 2014 and December 2015.
'We’re not aware of anyone producing a product the way we are producing it'
Speaking to us last year, Creelman said he did not see the need to jump into bed with a big CPG company at this stage of the company’s evolution. “Typically you see those partnerships when there’s a barrier you need to overcome to fulfill the promise of the brand, but in our case we feel like we have all the makings of a brand that can be disruptive without those partnerships,” added Creelman.
He added: “We believe in our points of difference and think that sparkling water is the next big category to emerge in beverage, and we’re not aware of anyone producing a product the way we are producing it."