Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

US bone-broth protein maker Ancient Nutrition raised $103m from investors including Silicon Valley venture firm Iconiq Capital, which invests on behalf of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and other tech billionaires.

VMG Partners led the investment with participation from Hillhouse Capital and more than 100 members of an investor network, according to a statement from Ancient Nutrition on Thursday.

The consumer-health company, founded in 2016, is tapping into rising consumer interest in nutritional supplements. In December, Swiss giant Nestle agreed to pay $2.3bn for Canadian dietary supplements maker Atrium Innovations and signalling its interest in expanding further into the health sector.

"Nestle’s acquisition strengthened our resolve on moving forward" with the fundraising, co-founder Jordan Rubin said in an interview. "If a large company with as much strength as Nestle could realise the value of dietary supplements, there is definitely a high demand factor here."

Ancient Nutrition was set up by Rubin, proponent of the so-called Maker’s Diet based on the Bible, and Josh Axe, a doctor who advocates natural medicine and runs the popular DrAxe.com website. The company plans to double its retail footprint in the US by the end of 2019 and also expand into China and other parts of Asia, Axe said. Over the past year, it reported sales of $13.8m, up 270% from a year ago.

After raising money from investors, a stock sale isn’t likely, Rubin said. "The likelihood of joining an established company is greater at this point than an initial public offering."