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Sonoma Brands closes $60 million fund

The CPG-focused growth equity firm has closed its second fund to continue making strategic investments in disruptive brands. Its incubated brand, Smashmallow, has also closed a $10 million funding round.

Sonoma Brands announces today the closing of its second fund, a $60 million fund aimed at continuing the company's strategy of investing in game-changing, high-growth consumer brands as well as incubating new concepts. With the closing of the new fund, the firm will shift its focus from incubation to outside minority deals, seeking to partner with visionary and imaginative entrepreneurs to usher in a new wave of bold, breakthrough products and to establish the Sonoma region as a focal point for CPG entrepreneurship. Sonoma Brands’ proven success in brand building is further cemented as the company announces today that its incubated brand, Smashmallow, is now an independent company and has welcomed industry veteran David Lacy as CEO.

Jon Sebastiani, founder and creative force behind the acclaimed artisanal jerky brand Krave, launched Sonoma Brands in 2016 as his next endeavor following the successful acquisition of Krave by The Hershey Co. In the first fund, Sonoma Brands made an outside minority investment in Dang Foods, maker of the leading all-natural coconut chips, and was instrumental in the company's rebranding and expanded distribution. Sonoma Brands also skillfully brought to market Smashmallow premium snackable marshmallows and Züpa Noma ready-to-sip chilled superfood soups under the company's incubator arm. Utilizing the team's vast expertise in the CPG space to create, develop and design products that deeply resonate with consumers, Sonoma Brands offers entrepreneurs a seasoned team of brand builders, along with capital, to advise emerging brands that are ready to disrupt stale categories with creativity and originality.

Utilizing the capital of Sonoma Brands' second fund, in partnership with VMG Partners, Smashmallow has closed a $10 million funding round, allowing the company to continue its growth trajectory as an independent entity. Along with this fundraising announcement, David Lacy also joins Smashmallow as CEO, effective January 2018. Lacy joins Smashmallow with rich experience within the food industry, including previous positions as vice president of finance at Plum Inc., chief financial officer at Krave Pure Foods, and most recently as chief financial officer at Habit Inc. Lacy and the growing Smashmallow team are prepped to continue the fast-growing success of the brand, including nationwide distribution in all Target stores, beginning February 2018.

“The founding of Sonoma Brands stemmed from my passion for this region that yields vast culinary expertise. Our first fund served as a proof of concept for our team's strategy and entrepreneurial background that differentiates us as investors and brand builders,” said Jon Sebastiani, CEO and founder of Sonoma Brands. “With our first fund, we saw incredible, fast-moving growth from our portfolio brands, such as Smashmallow, which has taken the marshmallow far beyond the traditional jet-puffed marshmallow with its overall snackability, simple ingredients and fun flavors. We are thrilled to have such a strong and talented team, led by David's expertise, to steer Smashmallow into the company's next chapter and continued, limitless growth. Our aim with Sonoma Brands' second fund is to continue this momentum to work hand-in-hand with truly groundbreaking brands that will excite consumers and fill gaps within the market.”

“We’re thrilled to continue to support longtime friends to VMG in Jon Sebastiani and his team at Sonoma Brands through our direct investment into Smashmallow to support its rapid growth in an effort to disrupt the confectionary snacking category,” said Wayne Wu, managing director, VMG Partners.

Source: Sonoma Brands

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