Picture: 123RF/SOMSAK SUDTHANGTUM
Picture: 123RF/SOMSAK SUDTHANGTUM

New York — Kitu Life, the start-up behind fast-growing beverage brand Super Coffee, has raised $25m in a fundraising round that values it at more than $200m.

The round closed this month and was led by Skyview Capital, said Kitu Life CEO Jim DeCicco, who founded the company with younger brothers Jake and Jordan.

The DeCiccos have a “never, ever say die attitude; a highly differentiated product; a large addressable market; and a vision for building a sustainable and enduring brand”, Alex Soltani, founder of Los Angeles-based Skyview, said in a statement.

AB InBev’s innovation arm, ZX Ventures, participated in the round, and AB InBev will help distribute Super Coffee products throughout the US.

“We’re excited to be a part of their story and support them on the next stage of their journey,” Tom Allison, ZX’s head of investment strategy and M&A, said in a separate statement.

Other investors in the round include Joshua Siegel’s Acronym Venture Capital; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers’s Rx3 Ventures; Anthos Capital; actor Patrick Schwarzenegger; Mason Plumlee of the Denver Nuggets; former professional basketball player Baron Davis, an early investor in Vitaminwater; and Echo Capital Group, an affiliate of Denver-based Consolidated Investment Group, which manages the wealth of David Merage, whose Chef America invented Hot Pockets.

‘Shark Tank’

Schwarzenegger, the son of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, worked his way into the company’s investor base by sending Jordan DeCicco a direct message on Instagram after the trio appeared on Shark Tank in 2018, Jim DeCicco said.

Jordan, the youngest of the three, came up with the idea for Super Coffee after discovering that caffeinated, ready-to-drink beverages sold near Philadelphia University, where he played basketball, were loaded with sugar. Their product is sweetened with monk fruit [a gourd].

WeWork has reaped a roughly 20-fold return on its original 2017 investment by selling part of its stake in the recent transaction, DeCicco said, declining to elaborate. The office-sharing company first backed Kitu Life in 2017 after Artie Minson, then WeWork’s finance chief, met Jake DeCicco at a networking event.

The brothers, all college athletes, were given years of free rent at WeLive in Manhattan’s financial district and discounted rent at WeWork. The co-working company’s Creator Fund took a convertible note in Kitu Life in August 2019 that became equity in the recent fundraising round.

The company’s sales have more than tripled each year since 2016, peaking at $26m last year. The rapid growth is expected to continue, with Kitu forecasting about $70m of revenue this year and $150m in 2021, DeCicco said.

The cash injection will be used to fund distribution growth and build the company’s team, DeCicco said. Super Coffee is available in about 20,000 stores across the US including Walmart, Whole Foods Market and Wegmans.

Bloomberg