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First Beverage Enlists Coke’s Veb Incubation Unit To Fund Small Bevcos, To Tune Of $2-6 Million

Beverage Business INSIGHTS:

In interesting alliance that teams up 2 shops that have been steeped in innovation side of NA bevs, LA-based First Beverage Group has recruited Coca-Cola’s Venturing & Emerging Beverages unit among the limited partners in new fund that will steer $2-6 mil investments to intriguing bev-related plays.

New fund created by First Beverage Group’s First Beverage Ventures private equity arm has also enlisted David Kahn – who like First Beverage Group ceo has roots on distribution side – and various unidentified high-net-worth individuals and family offices. Tho Bill is not disclosing size of fund, he says partners have loose target of directing investments to 5-10 brands over next 2-3 years, with opportunities for follow-on investments. They won’t necessarily all be bev marketers, he stressed, but may also include bev-related technology plays and other concepts.

Fund aims to fill gap between brands that are able to raise initial capital from angels and friends and family but then go through long “wilderness period” before being high enough on radar of strategic partners. But he stressed that, while he’s eager to swap ideas with VEB’s seasoned team, the fund is completely independent of Coca-Cola and agnostic about distribution channels thru which one of its brand investments move or ultimately co that might acquire co. In statement, First termed limited partners “some of the best minds in the beverage industry.” VEB prexy/gm Deryck van Rensburg said his co was looking forward to working with First Beverage Ventures’ “top-notch team with the necessary experience to first identify emerging brands with the greatest potential and, second, to then work with them side by side to help them realize their potential.”