Jul 23, 2013, 08:32 ET
SAN CARLOS, Calif., July 23, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- NatureBox Inc., the leading online service for healthy snack food, today announced that it has secured $8.5 million in Series A funding and will use the proceeds to invest in the continued rapid expansion of its customer base and in enhancements to its service. The financing round was led by General Catalyst Partners, an early investor in NatureBox, and Softbank Capital, a new investor.
NatureBox introduced its service in Jan. 2012 to address a largely untapped market of U.S. consumers looking for healthier and better-tasting alternatives to food consumed between meals and on-the-go. The company's offer is built on the easy and convenient delivery of healthy and great-tasting snacks through a monthly subscription—and it reflects consumers' changing needs as the role of snacking in people's lives evolves and grows.
NatureBox gained quick traction with consumers while operationalizing and refining its business concept last year, and the first half of 2013 has been a period of accelerated growth. The company is adding five-to-10 new products per month to the 80 unique items it currently offers and projects it will end the year with well more than 100 items. Last year, NatureBox shipped 50,000 boxes to its customers and the company will be on track to ship over 1 million annual shipments by the end of 2013.
General interest in NatureBox has also grown dramatically this year, evidenced by a doubling of the average monthly visitors to the company's website (www.naturebox.com), which logged 450,000 visits in June. NatureBox "likes" on Facebook now top 460,000 and are growing at an average daily rate of more than 1,000.
The Series A round brings total funding raised by NatureBox in the last seven months to $10.5 million, following a $2 million seed round led by General Catalyst and other investors in December 2012. With proceeds from the latest round, NatureBox will enhance its data analytics in order to better anticipate and respond to customer preferences. It will also invest in hiring within its engineering, product and marketing functions as the company continues to ramp up operations to meet growing customer demand.
"Everyone loves to snack, and if given the opportunity, most of us would choose to make it part of a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle," said Gautam Gupta, the CEO of NatureBox who, along with his college friend and the company's Chief Marketing Officer, Ken Chen, co-founded NatureBox.
Added Mr. Gupta: "Our strategy is to offer the American consumer an easy and personalized way to enjoy healthy, delicious and distinctive snacks while delivering a customer experience that establishes NatureBox as a trusted and admired food brand."
NatureBox distributes its own brand of wholesome, great tasting and unique foods as consumer demand for "better-for-you" choices is remaking the $64 billion U.S. snack food market. According to IRI, a market research firm in the consumer packaged goods industry, more than 80 percent of people surveyed in 2012 said they are trying to eat healthier and more than 50 percent said they rely on snack food to satisfy hunger, as a mini-meal, or to get needed nutrition. At the same time, more than 60 percent said they also snack for enjoyment, creating the opportunity for NatureBox to promote health and wellness as well as smart indulgence.
The most popular NatureBox shipment includes approximately 20 servings of five individual, nutritionist-approved items. Shipments typically reflect a seasonal health and wellness theme and are sourced from local growers as well as independent food suppliers across the U.S. Every NatureBox snack is free of high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, trans fats and artificial sweeteners, flavors, and colors.
"NatureBox has meaningfully tapped into consumers' need for snacks that are not only better-for-you but consumable on-the-go, and people are clearly responding to the service," said Neil Sequeira, managing director of General Catalyst Partners. "I look forward to seeing the company continue to build its offering through even more product variety and an increased ability for users to customize their NatureBox experience."
As part of its growth initiative, NatureBox also announced two senior executive hires. The company said Minesh Shah has joined NatureBox as vice president of operations and David Lee has been appointed vice president of engineering. Mr. Shah was most recently vice president of operations at Walmart.com, where he led supply chain management for the multi-billion dollar online retailer. Mr. Lee was most recently senior director of engineering at Bonobos, the men's clothing retailer, and previously held senior engineering roles at EchoSign (acquired by Adobe in 2011), Facebook, and SnapFish.
NatureBox is the leading online service for healthy snack food, providing consumers with an easy way to enjoy healthy, delicious and distinctive snacks. NatureBox offers 80 unique items, including Pistachio Power Clusters, Masa Crisps and Peanut Butter Nom Noms. All are nutritionist-approved and created just for NatureBox by local growers and independent food producers. NatureBox ships directly to customers from its principal distribution center in San Carlos, Calif. NatureBox has partnered with WhyHunger to help provide nutritious food to the millions of Americans who go hungry. Through WhyHunger, the company works directly with community organizations, emergency food providers and summer meal programs for low-income children. For more information on NatureBox, visit www.NatureBox.com.
SOURCE NatureBox Inc.
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