Startups

Last Week In Venture: Market Power, Wine Clubs, And CBD Snack And Spritzer Startups

Hello and welcome back to Last Week In Venture, a weekly roundup of deals which may have flown under your radar.

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There are plenty of companies operating outside the public market and unicorn spotlight, but in their stories we can find trends and learn more about emerging markets.

Without further ado, let’s dive into the week that was in venture land!

A Power Market

Electricity. Forgive the pun, but it’s what powers modern society. As a utility, it’s one of those things you sign up for once, and kind of forget about, aside from remembering to pay your monthly bill. If you live in a market with a number of competing power companies, it could pay off to check out prices from the competition.

Headquartered in Seattle, WattBuy is currently helping electricity customers in Texas, New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania discover competition electricity providers and possibly save money by switching. The company raised $1.2 million in seed funding from New Zealand-based intellectual property commercialization firm Powerhouse Ventures and Schmidt Futures, a private “philanthropic initiative” by former Google CEO Eric and his spouse Wendy Schmidt.

Investors Slurp Down CBD Drink Startup Stock

Friends, let’s be honest with ourselves here. There’s a lot to be anxious about these days. The U.S. economy is growing slower than previously reported. It is phenomenally, lethally hot in western Europe. The White House is playing the race card as the House mulls impeachment. Boris Johnson is the new British Prime Minister. A “city-killer” asteroid passed within 73,000 kilometers (45,360 miles) of Earth on Thursday. It was traveling 24 kilometers per second.

Kind of all makes you want to sip on a tall frosty cold one, right? You’re not alone. However, as more wellness-conscious consumer tastes expand beyond booze to botanicals, fancy seltzers, and adaptogens, the universe of premium grown-up beverage options is expanding at a rapid clip. One of the biggest growth markets has been in beverages infused with CBD, the less psychoactive cannabinoid cousin to THC.

Among the latest ventures in the space to raise capital is Colorado-based Weller, which secured $3 million in seed financing this week to scale production of its CBD-infused beverages and snack foods. Brand Foundry Ventures led the deal. LivWell Ventures, Great Oaks Venture Capital, CanopyBoulder, and 7thirty Capital round out the institutional investors. Marketing company CEO Bill Weiland and nut butter snack entrepreneur Justin Gold participated as individuals.

One Last Round

The venture-backed beverage deals flow on this week.

You may have heard of a company called Winc. The Los Angeles-based venture is a direct-to-consumer winery which aims to make wine-buying easy and accessible to a new generation of wine drinkers. Its branding is slick and the images on its website would be right at home in a glossy food magazine. It’s not your parents’ wine of the month club.

This week, Winc secured $10 million from a PE firm called Cool Japan Fund to help the company source, promote, and distribute Japanese sake to its customer base. Winc will also be opening a sake tasting room in Los Angeles, according to Japanese tech business site The Bridge.

And with that we’re done for the week. See you next week!

Image Credits: Last Week In Venture graphic created by JD Battles. Photo by Erol Ahmed, via Unsplash.

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