Around $500,000 of this round was raised through WeFunder, and the rest was supported by angel investors and small angel groups, including Tech Coast Angels and Westside Market in New York, according to Alex Bayer, founder and CEO of Genius Juice.
The former insurance agent launched the company in 2014 after he discovered the whole coconut concept from a vegan chef friend. “I tasted [the blended coconut that was served ice cold], and my first thought was ‘this is pure genius’! And this is how the name was born,” Bayer said.Genius Juice didn’t ascend immediately to be a rockstar in the beverage space; instead, it went through “a lot of ebb and flow” over the years, including formulation changes and co-packer transitions, Bayer notes. The nature of using an entire coconut without water, sugar or any preservatives for its final products also requires strict refrigeration during bottling and shipping.
“We are a huge value add to coconut water since we also add the coconut meat,” Bayer recently wrote me via email. “The resulting product is more creamy, filling, and enjoyable — almost like a meal replacement or a filling snack to get you to the next task.”
The three different varieties of Genius Juice: original, mocha, and turmeric, are currently available in more than 2,000 retail stores across the U.S., including Whole Foods, Publix, Albertson’s, Walmart, as well as many other regional chains.
In addition to entering 600 Target and Smart & Final stores during this coming fall, the company is also releasing a new Vanilla Cinnamon flavor, a permanent seasonal special that will be offered all year round, as well as a line of coconut smoothies with added benefits in 2021.
Genius Juice started gaining tremendous traction after appearing on Shark Tank earlier this year, when its team accepted $500,000 from Mark Cuban and Barbara Corcoran in exchange for a 25% stake in the business.
The deal, however, fell through ultimately since Bayer believed the terms were not favorable for the company at that time. “We decided to fundraise to leverage our exposure from the Shark Tank episode in which the brand gained significant attention,” he said.
Upon closing its latest fundraising, Genius Juice will primarily focus on gaining distributions, and driving trial and adoption of its products through marketing campaigns. It is also hiring sales managers and merchandisers in Southern California and Florida to support its expansion.
“I see Genius Juice continue to grow in the plant-based functional beverage set… and our key positioning is a clean, organic smoothie that is… choke-full of benefits from the whole coconut, such as MCTs (medium-chain triglyceride), protein, fiber, and potassium,” Bayer said.
While Genius Juice is expected to expand into approximately 2,500 stores by the end of 2020, its goal was never about reaching as many retailers as it can, but the amount of velocity in each of them, Bayer stressed.
“We cannot launch just anywhere and need to be extremely selective with our retail partnerships and go where our products have the best chance of success,” he said. “This has been our goal from day one, and it has worked thus far.”