DENVER, Aug. 27, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- KEY Investment Partners LLC ("KEY") announced today the successful financing of two market-leading companies in the cannabis sector, Front Range Biosciences ("FRB") and springbig. In addition to recent investments, the firm welcomes three new members to its Advisory Board. KEY Investment Partners is a Denver, CO based investment manager focused on providing growth capital to early-stage companies in the cannabis sector.
KEY's investment in Front Range Biosciences, a market leading agricultural biotech firm who specializes in the breeding and production of new seed and plant varieties in hemp, coffee, and regulated cannabis, is a reflection of the firm's continued confidence of the resilience of the rapidly growing cannabis industry. Founded in 2015 and based in Denver, CO, FRB is currently raising a $30M Series B financing round.
"The rapid growth of cannabis and hemp has created an unparalleled opportunity for agriculture innovation. The Front Range Biosciences team brings decades of agricultural and biotech experience to the sector and has created the world's top hemp/cannabis R&D program," said KEY Founding Partner Pete Karabas, who joins Front Range Biosciences' Board of Directors in a board observer role. As one of the few US investment managers focused solely on the cannabis sector, KEY will act as a strategic partner to FRB over the coming years.
"I've raised more than $300M into startups in my career, and the team at KEY impressed me right from the beginning. Thoughtful and diligent not only about their investment process, but also about the ultimate success of the companies in KEY's portfolio. I have already recommended them to fellow entrepreneurs," said Nick Hofmeister, Co-Founder and Chief Strategic Officer of Front Range Biosciences.
In addition to the firm's participation in FRB, KEY invested in springbig, a leading provider of customer-loyalty and communications solutions for dispensaries and cannabis retailers in the US. Founded in 2017 and based in Boca Raton, FL, springbig offers state of the art CRM programs that capture key customer data and seamlessly integrate with existing dispensary POS systems. springbig recently closed their $11.5M Series B financing and ranked 99 out of 5,000 in Inc. Magazine's annual 5,000 list, the most prestigious ranking of the nation's fastest-growing private companies.
"We founded KEY on the principle of providing institutional quality investment management to the cannabis industry. Our dedication to the entrepreneurs we back and our commitment to thorough due diligence on behalf of our clients has propelled KEY to the forefront of cannabis investing," said KEY Founding Partner Tiby Erdely.
The Advisory Board
KEY has added three new members to its Advisory Board:
John Martin, former CEO and Managing Partner of Antares Capital, a leading provider of middle-market leveraged lending to private-equity backed transactions with $27bn+ Assets Under Management;
Brent Johnson, CEO of Hoban Law Group, one of the top cannabis regulatory law firms in the country; and
Mike Hartman, former head of Canopy Growth's THC strategy group, and previously an Executive Director for the Colorado Department of Revenue. Mike is the current CEO of a startup cannabis company.
"I am delighted to be an early investor and an Advisory Board member with the KEY team. Tiby, Pete and Jordan have done extensive work in understanding the ecosystem of the cannabis industry. They have quickly proven themselves to be effective thought leaders in this rapidly growing space and I look forward to helping them succeed in the months and years ahead," said KEY Advisory Board member John Martin.
Martin, Johnson and Hartman join existing Advisory Board members Sarah Gersten, the General Counsel of The Last Prisoner Project, Marion Mariathasan, the CEO of Simplifya, Earl Gallegos, the Founder of Earl Gallegos Management and Roy Bingham, the Executive Chairman and Co-Founder of KEY portfolio company BDSA.
"At KEY Investment Partners, we continuously strive to surround ourselves with experienced and respected advisors to round out our team. We are thrilled to have built an outstanding Advisory Board with a broad range of both cannabis operational experience and traditional private markets investment expertise," said KEY Founding Partner Jordan Youkilis.
About KEY Investment Partners LLC:
KEY Investment Partners is an investment management firm focused on providing growth capital to early-stage cannabis companies. The firm invests opportunistically across all sub-sectors of the cannabis industry, with the intent of identifying high-growth, market-leading companies that are backed by exceptional management teams. Karabas, Erdely and Youkilis co-founded KEY after the three worked together at the Swiss-based private equity firm Partner's Group AG for several years. The team has over 24 years of combined investment management experience at institutions such as Partners Group, Goldman Sachs, and GE Capital, where they invested on behalf of some of the largest pension funds and endowments in the world. KEY is headquartered in Denver, CO - the most established and mature legal cannabis market in the US - positioning the firm at the forefront of the most exciting trends and developments in the space.
About Front Range Biosciences:
Front Range Biosciences is an agricultural biotechnology company that specializes in next generation plant breeding, plant tissue culture, and cannabis seed development to improve the reliability and quality of industrial hemp and medical cannabis plant genetics. FRB has global reach through facilities in Colorado, California and Wisconsin, and a partnership with the Center for Research in Agricultural Genomics in Barcelona, Spain. FRB's Clean Stock program provides a consistent supply of disease and pathogen-free plants and seeds to farmers backed by data-driven breeding solutions. FRB is headquartered in Lafayette, Colorado. For more information on Front Range Biosciences, visit www.frontrangebio.com or follow us on Facebook and Instagram.
springbig is the leading provider in customer-loyalty and communications solutions for dispensaries and cannabis retailers. Founded in 2017, springbig offers state of the art CRM programs that capture key customer data and seamlessly integrates with existing dispensary POS systems. The platform also develops custom cannabis loyalty software embedded with advanced marketing tools to retain customers and sends targeted and personalized SMS campaigns based on customer interest with a 99% open rate. springbig is helping dispensaries & cannabis retailers keep their clientele connected and engaged while allowing the store owners to track their inevitable success and ROI in real-time.