Urban Remedy grabs $5M, adds former Jamba Juice and Pinkberry CMO as its new Chief Executive

By Michael Carney , written on June 3, 2014

From The News Desk

Months after adding Cindy Crawford as a director and brand partner, organic pressed juice and nutritious snacks company Urban Remedy is continuing its upward momentum with $5 million in Series A funding and a new, industry veteran CEO.

The new funding round was led by Venture51, with participation from existing investor, Santa Monica technology studio Science, Inc and brings Urban Remedy's total haul to $6 million. Taking the seat at the helm of the San Rafael, California-based company is Paul Coletta, a former CMO and General Manager of Jamba Juice, POM Wonderful, Pinkberry, Popchips, and the Melt. It’s just the kind of muscle Urban Remedy will need as it seeks to grow into a mass market product and compete with entrenched competitors like Blueprint.

Founder Neka Pasquale, a practitioner of Chinese medicine, herbalist and licensed acupuncturist, will continue to lead the company’s product development and serve as the public face of the company, alongside Crawford. Over the last four years she has created the company's menu of consists of certified organic, gluten-free, and grain-free foods, including fresh pressed juices, juice cleanses, salads, wraps, and snacks as well as its educational content targeting the wellness community.

The good news for Urban Remedy is that it’s competing largely against offline brands. This means two things. First, it can deliver its products – typically sold on subscription – to its customers cheaper than others within the category, while avoiding the war for shelf space and retail foot traffic. Second, the company can cast a wider and more efficient customer acquisition net. Science’s special brand of data-driven marketing services has already proven to give the company a leg up in this area.

“These legacy brick-and-mortar players just can’t compete with us online,” says Venture51’s Brandon Zeuner. “Couple that with the growth in the healthy lifestyle category and there’s a reason Urban Remedy is one of our largest investments to date.”

The health and wellness space is incredibly competitive, as is the broader foods sector. In order to succeed, companies need not only to be efficient in customer acquisition, but also operationally excellent in manufacturing and fulfillment. This is where Coletta’s addition should pay major dividends, including in leading the company’s expansion into a new 20,000 square foot commercial kitchen, bottling and labeling facility in Point Richmond, California. Coletta will also play a key role in improving Urban Remedy’s branding and messaging, Zeuner says.

For all Urban Remedy’s emphasis on online, direct-to-consumer sales, the company has had a surprising amount of success with its own brick-and-mortar locations. The company views these commissary-style installations – where they sell prepared products, and do no fresh food prep – as customer acquisition channels, looking to convert first-time buyers into regular subscribers. But that notwithstanding, the physical locations each operates profitably, Sciences Peter Pham tells Pando, a fact that Zeuner attributes to their low cost of operation.

Going forward, expect to see more strategic locations inside health clubs, universities, and airports, as well as direct-response TV campaigns. All efforts will drive activity back to Urban Remedy's online subscription offering.

After a period of frothy activity, the appeal of food deals has faded in Silicon Valley of late, making the Urban Remedy round all the more telling. Unlike the overwhelming majority of meal delivery and wellness product startups with which it’s competing, however, Coletta’s company has found sustainable economics, Zeuner says. This latest round will allow the company to scale its operations to meet increasing demand, much like gas on an already blazing fire.

Given the state of the category, Venture51 and Science are betting that this will be one case where you really can’t have too much of a good thing.