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Latest LOVO News
Sep 6, 2023
2x NYT Bestselling Author | Teaches Course: Your Bestselling Book Got it! getty No matter where you go, store shelves burst with tantalizing snacks designed to get kids begging their parents to buy. But too often, these treats are ultra-processed foods filled with sugar and harmful additives known to do serious damage to our health and to the planet. As children worldwide head back to school, here’s a list of products to assist you in your quest for finding better-for-you and Earth treats that are also kid-approved. Denise Woodard is the founder and CEO of Partake Foods. Partake 1. Partake Foods Allergen-Free Snacks Denise Woodard was inspired to found Partake Foods , an allergy-friendly cookie and baking mix company, in 2016 after her daughter experienced food allergies. She started the business by selling cookies out of her car in NYC and self-funding by emptying out her 401k and selling her engagement ring. Woodard has since raised more than $20M from investors including HER, Rihanna, Circle Up Growth Partners, FF2032 and Marcy Venture Partners (Jay-Z’s venture capital firm), making her the first Black woman ever to raise more than $1M publicly for a CPG food startup. In 2022, Partake was listed at 45 on the Inc 5000 list. This year, the company announced that it has become a certified B-Corporation, and it launched a collaboration with Ben & Jerry’s. As a Black woman, Woodard is passionate about raising awareness of Black and female entrepreneurship. In 2020, she founded Black Futures in Food & Beverage, an annual fellowship program that mentors HBCU students and helps them find jobs. MORE FOR YOU “At Partake, we believe in radical inclusivity,” said Woodard in an exclusive interview with me. “We hope that we can champion: the end to food insecurity in the U.S., foods that those with dietary restrictions get to enjoy; and real diversity, equality and inclusion in the CPG food and beverage industry.” In the early days of Partake, Seth Goldman, the founder of Honest Tea, gave Woodard this advice: “Just get started.” She confesses that it wasn’t easy. “I heard 86 no’s when raising my seed round of fundraising before hearing yes from Marcy Venture Partners (co-founded by JAY-Z). But there is no challenge that outweighs the benefit of knowing we’re creating foods I’m proud to feed my own family and share with the world.” Over time, by listening to customers, Woodard iterated, until she had created a product that people want and love. She advises aspiring entrepreneurs to “gut check advice before you apply it. Even if it looks like good advice and is good advice, generally speaking, it can still be bad advice for you.” Jennifer Maxwell is the founder and CEO of Jambar. Jambar 2. Jambar Organic Artisan Energy Bars Jambar energy bars are certified organic and non-GMO, and also made with premium real food ingredients. They are the 2021 brainchild of Jennifer Maxwell, who created the original PowerBar in 1985 along with her late husband Brian Maxwell. Jambar bars come in four flavors, all of which are vegan and gluten-free, and contain protein plus grains such as quinoa, sorghum and brown rice. More than two decades since her success with PowerBar, Maxwell is on a mission not only to improve the nutritional content of energy bars, but also to give back. A remarkable 50% of company profits are donated to community programs that support music and active living. For example, Jambar recently entered into a partnership with Olympic gold medalist in freestyle skiing Jonny Moseley to help skiers, boarders and fitness enthusiasts get and stay in shape during the winter season. “I believe my life purpose is to create,” said Maxwell in an exclusive interview with me. In addition to being an entrepreneur, she is also a trained food scientist, mother to six children, and musician who currently plays in two bands. The biggest challenge Maxwell has faced in life was unexpectedly losing her husband, best friend and business partner in 2004. “I had to pick up the pieces and embark on the daunting journey of raising our six kids by myself,” she says. “I was able to persevere by relying on my faith in a higher purpose and my belief in my strength. Music entered my life as a guiding light and gave me an outlet for healing.” To aspiring entrepreneurs, Maxwell offers this advice. “Making a dream come true takes total commitment and belief in yourself. Align yourself with others who you trust and who believe in you and your vision.” Michelle Razavi is the founder and CEO of Elavi. Elavi 3. Elavi Superfood Nut Butters and Bars Like many entrepreneurs, Michelle Razavi founded Elavi to solve a problem in her own life. She was working long days juggling a job at Sephora corporate with teaching fitness classes at Equinox. She needed a high-protein snack that was also gut-friendly, but she couldn’t find one. So, Razavi worked with her best friend and fellow fitness trainer Nikki Elliott to bootstrap a functional snack company to solve their needs. Since founding Elavi, the two have weathered a global pandemic, a trademark lawsuit, supply chain delays, and zero marketing budget in the first year. Their relentless commitment to the business has paid off. Elavi’s line of superfood nut butters and bars are now available in nearly 300 locations, including the Equinox studios where Razavi and Elliott teach, Google, Lululemon experiential cafes, tech offices, and Amazon. All products are vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO with no added sugar. “Running Elavi has been the most challenging, fulfilling, and dynamic experience of my life,” said Razavi in an exclusive interview with me. “There were plenty of opportunities to throw in the towel, but I kept going. I'm a first-generation Persian American who grew up seeing her single mom juggling work, education, and raising kids in a foreign country. There's not a day I don't take that for granted and seeing my Persian sisters abroad fight for their freedom puts my challenges into perspective. I don't have to do this, I get to do this.” “Document everything,” Razavi advises aspiring entrepreneurs. “Record the early days as mementos, write out your goals and revisit them frequently, set up written agreements with cofounders and early investors, keep track of contracts, screenshot your first customer reviews, and recap important calls in writing. It's not only fun to look back on your progress, but having things in writing will save you time, money, and stress down the line.” Courtenay Vuchnich is the cofounder and CMO of Lovo. Lovo 4. Lovo Plant-Based Chocolates Anyone who loves milk chocolate knows that they have hundreds of options available to them. But only one company offers a plant-based alternative that is not only vegan, gluten-free and non-GMO, but also creamy and delicious: Lovo . Lovo chocolates are made with “mylks” derived from almonds, hazelnuts, oats and coconuts. All products are also package in cyclable wrappers, and Rainforest Alliance and myclimate certified. Cofounder and mom Courtenay Vuchnich, who previously founded Pascha chocolate company followed the popularity of the $20 billion plant-based milk category to her current venture. No one had created an entire line and range of milk chocolate bars using plant milks before she came up with this idea. She chose to source Lovo chocolate in Switzerland, the home of milk chocolate. “I’ve always been fascinated by entrepreneurship and the grit, determination, and real self-honesty required to build a successful family business in an ever-changing marketplace,” said Vuchnich in an exclusive interview with me. She started her first company at age ten. She is also a plant-based eater herself. Vuchnich encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to ask themselves, Are you somewhat comfortable in the uncomfortable? “Entrepreneurship has a rhythm of ups and downs and you have to be able to recognize and embrace this crazy ride,” she says. “Rework, pick yourself up and move-on. Expect to have rough days. Really study your mistakes, take the learning with you and then leave the errors behind.” Jeff Richards is the CEO and founder of Mooala. Mooala 5. Mooala Plant-Based Milk Mooala is the fastest growing organic plant-based milk company in the U.S. The company offers a range of non-dairy milk alternatives made from various ingredients including almonds, coconut, oats and bananas mixed with sunflower seeds. The resulting vegan milks are low in calories and added sugar. “I have always wanted to go my own way in life, and starting and running a business has been really cathartic,” said Jeff Richards, CEO and Founder of Mooala in an exclusive interview with me. “It was important for me to found a brand that provided exceptional products at a price that didn’t exclude families who want to eat cleanly but can’t afford to pay top dollar. We aim to be family-oriented, welcoming and fun for everyone, not pretentious or exclusive.” In running Mooala, the greatest challenge Richards has faced is the ups and downs of startup life. “Through practice and intentionality, I’ve learned to care less about the small things and put a mental box around the negative experiences. I’m not perfect and never will be, but consciously prioritizing my emotional response has saved me from burn out and meltdowns,” he says. “Don’t start your business alone,” Richards advises aspiring entrepreneurs. “Being able to brainstorm, pass off work, and share in the challenges and victories provides an enormous relief. Also, do not let your identity and your company become one and the same. Be rooted in something other than your business that you can fall back on when things inevitably get difficult.” 6. Westbourne Zero-Waste Snacks and Staples As climate disasters become more intense and more frequent with each passing year, west~bourne is leading the charge in forging a new food system that supports long-term solutions to climate change. The company makes zero-waste snacks such as granola, baking mixes, and pantry staples such as olive oil that come in compostable packaging and harness regenerative farming methods. Camilla Marcus is the founder of west~bourne. “We breathe sustainability into every step of our supply chain, and not just for marketing purposes,” she said in an exclusive interview with me. “We believe that protecting our planet can be a simple (and delicious!) undertaking and you can do it in small steps: eating more vegetables, shopping locally, recycling and composting, or even repurposing scraps in a new way.” Although running a startup means facing constant challenges, Marcus says she thrives on chaos and unpredictability. “Obstacles are like fuel for my curiosity and determination. I get obsessed with turning a potential closed door into an open opportunity.” Marcus feels that the key to success in business and life is community, which serves to make any pursuit worthy and meaningful. “This is the essence of regeneration, too—collaboration is essential to build a way that’s healthy, resilient, and circular,” she says. “Particularly if you’re in the sustainability space, share what you learn along your journey to inspire others to do better, too. When you thrive, we all thrive.” Annie Chun is the cofounder of Gimme Seaweed. Gimme Seaweed 7. Gimme Seaweed Snacks Seaweed is one of the eco-friendliest crops around. Since 2018, the category has grown over 63% because seaweed is the ultimate regenerative crop with a net positive environmental impact. It requires no fresh water to grow, and if farmed organically without the use of pesticides and chemicals can help to keep our oceans clean and fight climate change. Within this category, gimme Seaweed is now the leading organic seaweed snack in the US. The company’s Grab & Go line is sold without plastic trays. Cofouder Annie Chun was born and raised in Seoul near the coast of Korea, and grew up eating foods from the ocean like seaweed. Her goals with Gimme is to make seaweed a regular part of American diets, both as a snack and as a meal ingredient. She has found it challenging to get more people to try seaweed, even though it is one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables on Earth, sustainable, and delicious. “Bringing seaweed to the mainstream required a reinvention in approach, as Americans have different eating habits that take time to change,” said Chun in an exclusive interview with me. “We have focused on education, influencers, and sampling.’ Chun says that entrepreneurs must possess vision, determination, persistence, and resilience. “There will be serious difficulties, but always keep your vision and purpose at the center,” she recommends. Brad Charron is the CEO of Aloha. Aloha 8. Aloha Plant-Based Protein Bars Aloha makes plant-based protein bars and powders that regularly receive five-star ratings on Amazon and sell out at Thrive Markets. It’s also a certified B-Corporation that recently attained Climate Neutral certification. The special edition Kona bar supports sustainable agriculture in Hawaii by giving back to the next generation of environmental stewards. It features responsibly sourced locally-grown coffee and macadamia nuts. “As a small employee-owned and operated team, we know it’s our duty to do more whenever we can, and this includes making food that is better for your body and better for the planet,” said Brad Charron, CEO of Aloha in an exclusive interview with me. “Access to better food shouldn’t be a luxury but a right. It’s up to us to set the bar higher. No excuses.” Charron faced the biggest challenge of his professional life taking over Aloha in 2017, when it was failing. He says, “If my experience in those first 18 months as CEO is any indicator, taking over a failing business can be ten times more difficult than starting one from scratch. Not only do you have zero room for error, you have traps and pitfalls, not of your own creation, lurking around every corner. I overcame this with a lot of patience, even more humility and an unwavering focus on creating the best possible product on the market.” To aspiring entrepreneurs, Charron offers the advice to surround yourself with good, smart people who are equally enthusiastic and committed to your cause — a team you can rely on, learn from, and actually look forward to working with everyday. “If your team isn’t right, nothing else will be,” he says. 9. Zenb Pasta The yellow pea is the hot new plant protein in the gluten-free pasta space, which is expected to reach $1.3B by 2025. Zenb is the first company to launch a pasta made exclusively from the entire yellow pea, skin included. As a result, it has higher protein and fiber content, while replicating the texture of traditional pasta. Taichi Sakabe is the president and COO of Zenb U.S., whose parent company is headquartered in Japan. “Brands big and small have the power to inspire change. We have a responsibility to create products that are both good for people and the planet – which is why my values align so well with Zenb,” he said in an exclusive interview with me. “Remain committed to your values and find the best people to work with,” Sakabe advises aspiring entrepreneurs. “Zenb was born from the heart of a family-owned business (Mizkan). Since the very beginning, the desire has been to change how people think about food. We have built a team that also appreciates these values.” Nikki Dizon is the VP and general manager of the frozen food division for Century Pacific Food ... [+] (CPF), unMEAT's parent company. Unmeat 10. Unmeat Plant-Based Meats As the plant-based meat market continues to explode, unMEAT provides heathier plant-based canned meat products, from fish-free tuna and chicken to beef chili. unMEAT uses only clean, sustainably sourced, non-GMO ingredients and is owned by Century Pacific Food, which has offset 100% of its plastic waste for the past three years and uses 68% renewable energy. Available in over 400 stores nationwide, unMEAT is also affordable, priced at just $2 to $5 a can. Nikki Dizon is the VP and general manager of the frozen food division for Century Pacific Food (CPF), unMEAT's parent company. She has been integral in helping CPF lead the way into a more sustainable future through plant-based innovations. “As a mother of two kids, I am greatly motivated by work that strives to build better lives for the next generation,” she said in an exclusive interview with me. The plant-based meat category, Dizon says, “was thrust into a hype-cycle of euphoria, inflated expectations, disappointment and what now looks to be a more reasonable and steadier phase for adoption. Riding out this cycle and staying committed to building requires any entrepreneur to be laser-focused on their true north and intensely vigilant about capital and resources.” From the get-go, unMEAT was determined to stand out by democratizing plant-based eating. “We play the long game and believe that the consensus for wanting better, healthier and more affordable options will remain for a long time,” Dizon explains. To aspiring entrepreneurs, Dizon offers this advice. “Never underestimate the power of showing up consistently and doing the work regardless of a good day or bad. Also, never give up on a bad day. I’ve found that some of the best innovations and pivots, whether in business or in life, happen on the heels of failure.” Follow me on LinkedIn . Check out my website .
LOVO has made 2 investments. Their latest investment was in Taihuoniao as part of their Series B on September 9, 2019.
LOVO Investments Activity
Series A - II
1 Team Member
LOVO has 1 team member, including current Chief Executive Officer, Charlie Choi.