Purely Elizabeth joins 301 INC portfolio
Today, 301 INC announced an investment in Purely Elizabeth, a natural, nutrient-dense granola company that has seen rapid success.
Purely Elizabeth is the eighth company 301 INC has invested in since it reimagined itself as a new-business development and venturing unit within General Mills, 18 months ago.
301 INC – whose name honors the address of the original Pillsbury mill in Minneapolis – has made investments in everything from clean-label cottage cheese and dairy-free yogurt to chilled soup and kimchi.
Today’s news is the latest in a recent series of investments since March, which includes D’s Naturals, maker of the plant-based protein No Cow Bar, and Farmhouse Culture, maker of probiotic sauerkraut.
301 INC builds breakthrough partnerships with emerging brands to accelerate their growth.
But it’s more than just providing investment capital. On top of that, 301 INC provides the wealth of resources and expertise that comes from being General Mills. This helps early-stage entrepreneurs navigate the vast and complex world of food.
“Starting a new business is not an easy task,” says Elizabeth Stein, founder and CEO of Purely Elizabeth in a phone conversation. “With an identity that I consider more ‘lifestyle’ than ‘breakfast,’ I’ve always envisioned taking the brand to the next level and into new market categories. I feel 301 INC is a great strategic and cultural fit to help us achieve that.”
In 2009, Elizabeth was a holistic nutrition counselor seeking healthy, gluten-free products for her clients. At the same time, she was learning about nutritious ingredients like ancient grains and superfood seeds, which had only a niche following. So she began making her own granola.
“I thought I would start the business as a side project and simply sell to clients, friends and family,” she explains. “Overnight it grew into something consumers were yearning for. Fast forward to today, being in so many mainstream retailers and now having the interest of 301 INC to partner with us. I’m just pinching myself.”
With eight partners in its portfolio – Beyond Meat, Rhythm Superfoods, Kite Hill, Good Culture, and Tio Gazpacho, in addition to the recent trio of D’s Naturals, Farmhouse Culture, and Purely Elizabeth – 301 INC is focused on being an indispensable partner for growth.
John Haugen, vice president and general manager of 301 INC, says the true differentiator for 301 INC is General Mills’ 150 years’ experience of making food people love. He says it is the true secret sauce that distinguishes 301 INC from competing investors.
John talks about what he’s learned on his journey into food entrepreneurship, in this video.
301 INC consists of more than a dozen General Mills employees with expertise in marketing, sourcing, product development, supply chain, sales distribution and brand building. It’s this experience that attracts entrepreneurs.
“At a small company, you don’t always understand what you don’t have or know,” says Scott Jensen, co-founder and CEO of Rhythm Superfoods. “The 301 INC team has been lifting our brand in the eyes of our customers and helping forge relationships. Through them, major national distributors were reaching out to hug us.”
“We have the freedom and support to build a soulful brand, and the big-food resources to accelerate growth,” adds Jesse Merill, co-founder and CEO of Good Culture. “Since partnering with 301 INC, we grew from being in 300 doors to now approaching 5,000.”
Sometimes, the benefits of partnering with 301 INC are less tangible.
“It’s difficult to pinpoint, but beyond supporting with manufacturing, recipe testing and logistics, they’ve helped grow me into a better leader,” says Austin Allan, founder and CEO of Tio Gazpacho.
Each partner in 301 INC’s portfolio has a distinct identity, but shares passion for their brand and perseverance in a crowded market. Many of the entrepreneurs also share a vision for nutrition as a means to wellness. That could mean adding more protein, probiotics, or ancient grains into daily diets – in a delicious way.
For example, D’s Naturals makes non-dairy, plant-based No Cow Bars and Fluffbutter. It was founded in 2015 by an 18-year-old entrepreneur and fitness enthusiast, Daniel “D” Katz. Now 20, D specializes in making plant-based protein accessible to people like himself with dairy sensitivities.
Another example, Farmhouse Culture, is all about gut health and has been on the cutting edge of probiotics since it started selling sauerkraut in a local Santa Cruz farmers market in 2008. It makes a range of kraut-based snacks, fermented vegetables, and a new beverage called Gut Punch, a sparkling probiotic that comes in flavors like orange cream, mango guava and strawberry hibiscus.
At Natural Products Expo West show in Anaheim, California last month, Farmhouse Culture took home two NEXTY awards for its Kraut Krisps and Fermented Veggies. The awards recognize creations that are shaping a healthy future for natural products.
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