Biena Snacks is welcoming a powerful group of new investors to the company. Investors in this round include ESPN's Darren Rovell, a partner in Tastemaker Capital, who brought an influential group of financers to the table—notably Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, and Jesse Itzler, co-founder of Marquis Jets and an early investor in Zico Coconut Water.
Additional investors in the round include Blueberry Ventures, Centerman Capital and New Ground Ventures.
"The momentum for plant-based protein snacks is undeniable and the chickpea has come out on top,” said Rovell. “Our group feels that there isn’t anyone in the category that can touch Biena—its texture and flavor profiles are outstanding. Along with the product itself, the passion and clear direction of Poorvi Patodia and her leadership team really sealed the deal for us."
Biena grew by 800 percent over the last three years and is on track to more than double its revenue in 2017. The new funds will be used to support continued distribution growth and large-scale marketing efforts for the brand.
Since its launch, consumers have responded in spades to the brand’s full-flavored taste profiles, clean ingredients and nutritional benefits, making Biena one of the highest velocity healthy snacks on supermarket shelves today. Biena is available in 15,000 locations nationally, including Sprouts, Whole Foods, Safeway and Stop & Shop. The brand also recently launched a co-branded product line with Weight Watchers.
Biena is available in six tempting flavors, including Sea Salt, Rockin’ Ranch and Honey Roasted. Each serving of Biena chickpeas has an enviable 5-6 grams of protein and 5-6 grams of fiber, and boasts a calorie count that allows consumers to still smile after polishing off the bag. In addition, Biena chickpeas are naturally gluten-free, non-GMO, kosher and made in a factory that is free of peanuts.
Biena was developed by Patodia when she was pregnant and searching for a healthier way to satisfy her snack cravings. Inspired by a favorite childhood snack, Patodia started experimenting with roasted chickpeas in her own kitchen, developing a unique way to make them light and crispy while maintaining the protein, fiber and nutrients of a whole chickpea. Leveraging her background in developing brands at Johnson & Johnson, Patodia launched Biena in 2012—when the plant-protein snacks trend was still in its infancy.
“I’m thrilled to have our new investors join the Biena family," Patodia said. "Their genuine passion for the brand and our mission to help everyday Americans snack healthier makes us the perfect pair. I couldn’t be more excited for this next phase of growth."
With the chickpea emerging as the star of the plant-protein snacking trend, Biena is well positioned to be a market leader. Later this month, at the Fancy Food Show at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City, the company will publicly unveil a new indulgent snack—a line of chocolate and caramel-covered roasted chickpeas (Booth 5476). This new product line will launch in stores nationwide in July.