“We have been growing pretty rapidly for the past year,” with consistent quarterly growth of more than 100%, an anticipated 1,000% increase in 2019 and a subscriber base that more than tripled last quarter alone, CFO Bennett Byerley told FoodNavigator-USA.
He explained that consumers love the company’s bite-sized bars that offer the equivalent caffeine as a shot of espresso, but from organic green tea – not coffee – so it comes “sans jitters.” But possibly even more than the three flavors of the energy bars, Byerley said, consumers love the ease with which they can subscribe for regular deliveries via text message.
“Essentially what has been driving our growth is our Verb Flex subscription program, which is a text message based subscription model that we developed in-house with our own CRM that our CTO [André Monteiro] built and developed,” Byerley said.
He explained that the unique delivery system sends a text to subscribers two days before their next scheduled delivery to check if consumers want to change, skip, pause or cancel “all with a simple text.” But in addition, the system allows the brand to “add a lot of personality and fun to the experience,” with some consumers updating the company on their vacations, how they are using the bars and even how their pets are, Byerley said.
Because each text is answered by a person, never a bot, Byerley said, the young company will use some of the new capital to further expand their ability to respond to consumers in a timely fashion and process their orders.
“So far we have been able to process millions of text messages annually and we see this as a very scalable option for the long run,” thanks in part to further automation that Monteiro has added to the company’s customer relationship management system and the addition of an experience manager who helps oversee all the text conversations, Byerley said.
A growing team and portfolio
In addition to continuing to develop the company’s CRM and unique approach to consumer engagement, the funds also will go towards hiring additional staff.
When the company first launched out of the founders’ dorm room, it was just the three of them. But since then, the team has expanded to six full-time employees and by 2020 the company hopes to employ more than a dozen employees, Byerley said.
In particular, the company looks to hire additional CX, engineering, marketing, business development and product development staff.
The capital also will help them the expanding team with “rapid iteration of other energy products, that all will revolve around the idea of delivering delicious and healthy energy products,” Byerley said. While he added that he is excited about the new products, he added, they are all “under wraps for now but will be out in the near future.”
Beyond what the money will allow the young entrepreneurs to achieve, Byerley said the team is excited to work with experienced investors who believe in their mission and can provide “good advice” and connections within their expanded networks for “future opportunities.”
This round was led by Global Founders Capital, with Nebari Ventures, Great Oaks, Supernode, FJ Labs, Kevin Ryan and other strategic angel investors, according to the company. Byerley added that several investors have re-upped from the company’s pre-seed round of $1.5 million.
“The investors we have currently on our cap table have been absolutely fantastic and we could not be more proud of the team we have put together there,” Byerley said, adding that the company also see “a lot of advantages from taking on additional capital from Global founders Capital as well as the other venture capital firms that we added this round.”