This Boulder brand nabbed $850k in growth capital thanks to angels and online platform CircleUp.

Ryan Caldbeck, Founder and CEO

October 30, 2014

2 Min Read
3 keys to Bhakti Chai's fundraising success

Organic tea producer Bhakti Chai recently raised over $850,000 in capital from angel investors and through the online platform CircleUp.

Capitalizing on a shift in consumer preferences toward healthy alternatives, Bhakti has successfully differentiated itself within the $6.7 billion tea and ready-to-drink tea market through unique ingredients and a proprietary manufacturing process. The Boulder-based company uses blends of fresh-pressed organic ginger, fresh-milled natural spices, and Fair Trade organic certified black tea at its carefully managed micro-brewery.

After experiencing topline growth of 97% from 2011 to 2012, the business concept had been validated and the transformation from a local, niche player to a nationally recognized brand was complete. With Bhakti’s added scale came the need for additional investments in manufacturing, new product development, and additional key team members.

CircleUp provided a platform for Bhakti Chai to raise the funds necessary to make these critical investments. For CircleUp, the business was a great fit. “We were impressed by the authenticity of the Bhakti Chai brand and the company’s consistently strong growth and momentum," said Katie Fitzgerald, Senior Associate of Business Development at CircleUp.  "The product is highly differentiated from other chai beverages on the shelf and leverages several key long-term trends we are seeing in the sector including fresh, organic, gluten-free, and non-GMO, among others.”

3 things that attracted investors

The CircleUp investment community was highly receptive to the opportunity that Bhakti Chai presented for a number of reasons. 

  1. The business had a multi-channel sales presence and reached consumers through retail, foodservice, and direct-to-customer avenues. The fact that Bhakti had strong traction in the natural grocery channel with national accounts like Whole Foods Market and specialty customers like New Leaf Community Markets demonstrated a clear retail channel strategy that focused on growth while preserving the integrity of the brand.

  2. Bhakti’s product was a clear category leader with a terrific taste profile evidenced by industry awards from The North American Tea Championship, Natural Products Expo, and the National Association of Specialty Foods.

  3. Investors on the platform shared Bhakti’s demonstrated commitment to social responsibility, which was verified by the company’s certification as a B Corp.

Many great small consumer brands similar to Bhakti Chai lack access to the capital they need to reach the next level of scale. In addition to providing a platform for these businesses to access growth capital efficiently, CircleUp provides connections to investors who have common values and experiences. Guidance and advice from these experienced consumer investors can often be just as valuable to a company as the funds that they provide.

About the Author(s)

Ryan Caldbeck

Founder and CEO

Ryan Caldbeck is the Founder and CEO of CircleUp (, an equity-based investment platform focused on high-growth consumer and retail companies.

Ryan started CircleUp after a career of investing experience in consumer product and retail-focused private equity at TSG Consumer Partners and Encore Consumer Capital. As a Director at Encore, Ryan led a number of private investments and served on the Board of Zuke’s, The Isopure Company and Philly Swirl. His experience in private equity exposed him to many great consumer and retail businesses that were too small to obtain funding through the customary private equity channels. As a result, he decided to make funding available to these small and promising companies through CircleUp.

Ryan received his MBA from Stanford and a dual BA from Duke, where he was a member of the 2001 NCAA basketball National Championship team. He holds Series 24, 63, and 82 licenses. Ryan is also a frequent contributor to Forbes and The Huffington Post.

Subscribe and receive the latest updates on trends, data, events and more.
Join 57,000+ members of the natural products community.

You May Also Like