- Beverage entrepreneur Clayton Christopher, of Deep Eddy Vodka and Sweet Leaf Tea, has formed the venture capital investment platform CAVU Venture Partners with former Coca-Cola executive Rohan Oza, who also helped build Vitaminwater, and Brett Thomas, former managing member at investment firm Thematic Capital Partners.
- CAVU will invest broadly in consumer goods but with a focus on food and beverage companies, both matured and up-and-coming.
- The group planned to raise $100 million for its debut fund and within four months raised $156 million from various investors; many had also invested in Sweet Leaf Tea and Deep Eddy Vodka.
One mature company CAVU has invested in is antioxidant drinks maker Bai Brands, which recently sold a $15 million minority stake to Dr Pepper Snapple after signing a national distribution deal 18 months prior to the deal. Other companies in the investment portfolio will be "created from scratch," including Mighty Swell, which Christopher described to Fortune as an "all-natural fresh juice-based sparkling cocktail in a can."
Oza told Fortune he doesn't believe PepsiCo or even his own former employer Coca-Cola will have "a resurgence of growth in their core brands," which paves the way for smaller companies.
Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent would beg to differ. Kent recently told CNBC that he believes both Coca-Cola and the soda industry as a whole have growth prospects on the horizon. That growth entails a revamped, one-brand marketing strategy for the soda giant, in addition to expansion and diversification of its portfolio.
As startups and small companies take over more of the food and beverage industry market share, the industry's landscape continues to change with consumers and entrepreneurs ushering in a new era at the grocery store. But even with investors and promising beginnings, startups are still not always successful in the crowded marketplace.