Portland food startup Wild Friends Foods, known for its nut butters, has secured $3.5 million from investors to help it branch into other categories and further grow the brand.
The round was led by Newport Beach, Calif-based Cambridge Companies SPG, a firm that specializes in consumer packaged goods and food and beverage investing. Other funds participating were Katjesgreen food, Echo Capital, CircleUp Growth Fund and Portland Seed Fund.
In addition to investment firms the round included several high profile angel investors such as motivational speaker and business strategist Tony Robbins, former CEO of Boulder Brands Steve Hughes, and co-founder of Schmidt’s Naturals Jaime Schmidt and her partner Chris Cantino.
“This round of fundraising marks a pivotal moment of growth for the company,” said co-founder and CEO Keeley Tillotson in a written statement. “It made the recent additions to our product line-up and team possible and the additional capital will go toward expanding our sales team presence across the country, continued grassroots marketing efforts and even more innovative product launches.”
Wild Friends has built its name with a line of natural, organic nut and seed butters. The company started in 2011 in the University of Oregon dorm room of founders Tillotson and Erika Welsh. A year later the duo were pitching their company on the ABC show “Shark Tank.” In 2016, the company was the 27th fastest growing private company in Oregon and Southwest Washington.
The company recently released a new product line called Oats and Nut Butter. It’s a single serving cup with nut butter, rolled oats, chia and flax. It has also released single serving nut butter packets.
“Wild Friends has created impressive enterprise value very efficiently from a capital use standpoint, established a clear relationship with a passionate and dedicated core customer base and executed on their mission of innovation and growth,” said Filipp Chebotarev, chief operating officer of Cambridge Companies in a written statement. “We were drawn to Wild Friends due to the company’s resonance with millennial consumers.”
In addition to the new products, the company has also added to its executive team with leaders from the packaged food industry. Beth Hanson, formerly of General Mills, is now vice president of sales; and Christina McCalla, formerly marketing manager at Annie’s is now director of marketing.