CPG Focused Growth Equity Firm Announces Closing of Second Fund to Continue Legacy of Strategic Investments in Disruptive Brands and New Concepts, Coming Full Circle as SMASHMALLOW Closes $10 Million Funding Round and Welcomes David Lacy as CEO
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Los Angeles, CA -- Sonoma Brands announces today the closing of their second fund, a $60 million fund aimed at continuing the company's strategy of investing in game-changing, high-growth consumer brands as well as incubating new concepts. With the closing of the new fund, the firm will shift its focus from incubation to outside minority deals, seeking to partner with visionary and imaginative entrepreneurs to usher in a new wave of bold, breakthrough products and to establish the Sonoma region as a focal point for CPG entrepreneurship. Sonoma Brands’proven success in brand building is further cemented as the company announces today that their incubated brand, SMASHMALLOW, is now an independent company and has welcomed industry veteran, David Lacy as CEO.
Jon Sebastiani, founder and creative force behind the acclaimed artisanal jerky brand KRAVE, launched Sonoma Brands in 2016 as his next endeavor following the successful acquisition of KRAVE by The Hershey Company. In the first fund, Sonoma Brands made an outside minority investment in Dang Foods, maker of the leading all-natural coconut chips, and was instrumental in the company's re-branding and expanded distribution. Sonoma Brands also skillfully brought to market SMASHMALLOW premium snackable marshmallows and ZÜPA NOMA ready-to-sip chilled superfood soups under the company's incubator arm. Utilizing the team's vast expertise in the CPG space to create, develop, and design products that deeply resonate with consumers, Sonoma Brands offers entrepreneurs a seasoned team of brand builders, along with capital, to advise emerging brands that are ready to disrupt stale categories with creativity and originality.
Utilizing the capital of Sonoma Brands' second fund, in partnership with VMG Partners, SMASHMALLOW has closed a $10 million funding round, allowing the company to continue its growth trajectory as an independent entity. Along with this fundraising announcement, David Lacy also joins SMASHMALLOW as CEO, effective January 2018. Lacy joins SMASHMALLOW with rich experience within the food industry, including previous positions as Vice President of Finance at Plum Inc., Chief Financial Officer at KRAVE Pure Foods, and most recently as Chief Financial Officer at Habit Inc. Lacy and the growing SMASHMALLOW team are prepped to continue the fast-growing success of the brand, including nationwide distribution in all Target stores, beginning February 2018.
“The founding of Sonoma Brands stemmed from my passion for this region that yields vast culinary expertise. Our first fund served as a proof of concept for our team's strategy and entrepreneurial background that differentiates us as investors and brand builders” said Jon Sebastiani, CEO and Founder of Sonoma Brands. “With our first fund, we saw incredible, fast-moving growth from our portfolio brands, such as SMASHMALLOW, which has taken the marshmallow far beyond the traditional jet-puffed marshmallow with its overall snackability, simple ingredients and fun flavors. We are thrilled to have such a strong and talented team, led by David's expertise, to steer SMASHMALLOW into the company's next chapter and continued, limitless growth. Our aim with Sonoma Brands' second fund is to continue this momentum to work hand-in-hand with truly groundbreaking brands that will excite consumers and fill gaps within the market.”
“We’re thrilled to continue to support longtime friends to VMG in Jon Sebastiani and his team at Sonoma Brands through our direct investment into SMASHMALLOW to support its rapid growth in an effort to disrupt the confectionary snacking category,” said Wayne Wu, Managing Director, VMG Partners.
As entrepreneurs increasingly seek partners who have been in their shoes navigating new product development and CPG entrepreneurship, Sonoma Brands, led by experienced brand builders with in-house, value-add resources and deep industry relationships, is uniquely positioned to be the partner of choice to emerging brands. For more information on Sonoma Brands, please visit www.sonomabrands.com, and for more information on SMASHMALLOW, please visit www.smashmallow.com.
About Jon Sebastiani
Jon Sebastiani is the founder of artisanal jerky brand, KRAVE, and leader of the jerky renaissance, leading KRAVE to their successful acquisition by The Hershey Company. His expertise in the field has been cultivated through various business pursuits, including his background in operations and previous positions as managing partner of Wine.com and President of the premier California winery destination, Viansa Winery. He is a graduate of Santa Clara University with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and holds a dual MBA from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley and Columbia University.
About Sonoma Brands
Founded in 2016, Sonoma Brands is a specialist growth equity firm exclusively dedicated to disruptive, high-growth consumer brands. Inspired by the heritage of California’s wine country, Sonoma Brands is committed to authenticity, quality and innovation. Led by Jon Sebastiani, founder of artisanal jerky brand, KRAVE Jerky, Sonoma Brands seeks to further CPG entrepreneurship by developing, launching and supporting promising, creative and disruptive brands. For more information on Sonoma Brands, please visit www.sonomabrands.com.
Seeking to revitalize the sleepy confectionery category, SMASHMALLOW premium ‘snackable’ marshmallows offer a blast of wow, a sprinkling of fun and a carnival of yum in every 20-calorie whipped-to-perfection puff. SMASHMALLOW is made with organic cane sugar and simple naturally sourced ingredients that deliver a clean-label indulgence perfect for satisfying any sweet tooth and is the perfect anytime, anywhere snack. The latest innovation in the SMASHMALLOW product portfolio includes SMASHCRISPY, an upgrade to traditional crispy rice treats, with better-for-you ingredients and available in three signature flavors including Cinnamon Churro, Mint Chocolate Chip and Strawberries & Cream. For more information on SMASHMALLOW and SMASHCRISPY, please visit www.smashmallow.com.