Since its launch in 2021, Odyssey has raised $14m across two funding rounds, with the second round closing at the end of 2023. In the second round, 50% came from existing investors, including family offices and individual investors, with the other have coming from Richard Laver of Rocket Beverage Group, Frohman said.
Finding funds in today’s market: ‘Money is there’
Though Odyssey didn’t technically need to raise in 2023, Frohman "saw a unique opportunity in the market" to grow the brand, following demand in the functional and natural markets. Odyssey "is the fastest growing functional beverage in the category,” according to retail data, he added.
With part of the funding, Odyssey will expand its convenience channel distribution, Frohman said. Last fall, the company launched its non-caffeinated sparkling elixir in 732 7-Eleven stores and “actually fell a little bit short” in terms of sales in the c-store channel, he admitted.
After interviewing consumers, Frohman discovered that Odyssey’s 222 beverages – which contain 222mg of caffeine and 2,750mg of lion’s mane and cordyceps – might have been the better product for the channel. Odyssey is already seeing “amazing success with incredible sell through and velocities” for the c-stores in which it has started to sell, he added.
“I went to a lot of stores and interviewed a lot of consumers. They said, ‘We buy your drink because we love your drink. We love the flavor. We love the effect. We love the branding ... but we’re also buying a Bang or Celsius with your drink because we want the caffeine, too,” he said. “We wanted to launch the 222s in convenience, and we needed that financial support to be able to do that.”
Odyssey will also use the funding to boost its inventory and support marketing, Frohman said.
"We need more inventory to support the business that we're doing, and also, half that money is going to go towards investment [and] ... into awareness, generating more sales, and more sampling."
Regarding the overall funding environment, Frohman said, “money is there” for brands that show traction in the market, and founders should focus their efforts on building their audience before worrying about attracting venture-capital funds.
“You really have to show some traction in a small way. I think that's the key. ...You could shoot for the stars, but like today, just get on pace - just make a little movement in the right direction,” he said. “Show that there's a product that goes on a shelf, and people buy it, and they come back and buy it again. Do it in a small way, and I promise you, the money will find you.”
Bang talent finds a home at Odyssey
As Odyssey grows its brand, Frohman is building out the team and is “following the same footsteps as a Red Bull or Bang” by self-distributing its product in Florida, Frohman said. It is also relying on some of the same talent.
When Monster acquired Bang, the energy drink company laid off more than 400 employees in Florida, Frohman explained. Since this was in its “backyard,” Odyssey was able to hire some of those, including Greg Robbins, former Bang CFO, and David Fridkin, former Bang national DSD director.
“I stacked the deck, but that came with a cost because we didn't have the sales to necessarily afford that kind of talent - that came at a cost. But we absorbed that because of the investment, and we were able to do it, and now, we're able to dramatically increase our sales without having to continue to increase any more expense, and we have the team in order to support it and execute it.”