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Young Entrepreneur Secures Investment from 301 INC., 2x Partners

March 1, 2017

Chicago-based private equity firm, 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners (2x Partners) and General Mills’ venture unit, 301 INC., have made a “significant” undisclosed investment in D’s Naturals – an innovative producer of No Cow Bars – plant-based, non-GMO, non-dairy protein bars that also have an extremely low sugar content, and Fluffbutters – a line of protein-infused, dairy-free, low sugar nut butters.

D’s Naturals was founded in 2015 by fitness enthusiast Daniel Katz when he was only 18 years old. Upon discovering he had a sensitivity to dairy, Katz found it difficult to find plant-based protein bars on the market that were also low in sugar.

“What was on the market were candy bars in disguise,” Katz told Fortune.

This realization led Katz to develop bars that are dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, vegan, non-GMO, and contain a minimum of 20 grams of plant-based protein, and no more than one gram of sugar. D’s Natural’s line of Fluffbutters also contain less than one gram of sugar and are dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, and non-GMO. The protein bars come in a range of flavors including Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Raspberry Truffle, Blueberry Cobbler, and Lemon Meringue Pie, while the nut butters come in a range of nine flavors that include, Vanilla Maple Frosting, Creamy Chocolate S’mores, Salted Caramel Sundae, Tuscan Tiramisu, and Raspberry Lava Cake.

In less than two years since launching, Katz has grown the company to see its products being sold in 10,000 retail outlets including Vitamin Shoppe, GNC, CVS, Amazon and local fitness centers serviced by Europa Sports, and generating nearly $10 million in revenue.

“This is the first investment I’ve taken outside of my family,” Katz told Fortune. “For the last two years, I’ve been essentially running this [alone] and it was getting to the point where I realized I couldn’t maintain it on my own.”

“What D has accomplished up to this point is impressive at any age,” John Haugen, vice president and general manager of 301 INC. told the Star Tribune. “I know how difficult it is to get brands and businesses to this stage,” Haugen said. “But what is special about this young man is he is both very accomplished, but also very humble and realizes there is additional expertise he can tap into.”

In the last two years 301 INC. has made investments of between $1 million and $18 million in innovative food startups – building up a portfolio that includes organic and non-GMO plant-based snack producer, Rhythm Superfoods; organic cottage cheese startup good culture®; producer of artisanal, nut-based, alternative dairy foods Kite Hill; plant protein-based meat alternative company Beyond Meat; and drinkable soup company Tío Gazpacho.

Haugen told Project Nosh that the capital gained by D’s Naturals through the deal will be used to fund further positioning of the D’s Naturals brand, to expand distribution channels, and to build marketing for these new markets, to scale the supply chain, establish an innovation pipeline, and to strengthen the Fluffbutter product line.

“When you look at where this brand will continue to grow, and you look at where people are looking to buy these types of products, I think that there’s a number of channels beyond those early stage nutrition channels and that’s where a partnership with 301 INC. and General Mills can be really powerful,” Haugen told Project Nosh. “It’s kind of that old saying, ‘What got you here isn’t necessarily going to get you to that next stage and I think D really recognizes that.”

“D’s Naturals is a true innovator among performance food products,” said Andy Whitman, managing partner at 2x Partners. “We’re incredibly excited to partner with D and 301 INC. to help maximize success.”

 

-Lynda Kiernan

Lynda Kiernan is Editor with GAI Media and daily contributor to GAI News. If you would like to submit a contribution for consideration please contact Ms. Kiernan at lkiernan@globalaginvesting.com

 

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