Runa Tea Secures $5.75 Million Investment

MetaBrand Capital, a new “conscious capital” private equity fund and the investment pillar of MetaBrand – a full service firm providing product formulation, outsourced operations, and sales and marketing services to natural, organic and nutritional food and beverage brands – announces a $5.75 million investment in Brooklyn, NY-based Runa Tea, supporting the growth of the “healthy energy” food and beverage category utilizing the Amazonian guayusa tree super-leaf.

Taking the Triple-Bottom Line approach to corporate social responsibility one step further, MetaBrand founder Eric Schnell embraces the “Quadruple Bottom-Line,” a socially, spiritually and environmentally aware business philosophy dedicated to People, Planet, Profit – and Purpose. Through the new fund, the company will primarily focus on growth capital investments in the food, beverage, nutrition and natural and organic product industries with strategic partners that embody and embrace a similar philosophy.

“This is the first major investment for MetaBrand Capital,” says Schnell. “Having previously partnered with Runa in helping to pioneer the healthy energy beverage category, we absolutely believe in Runa’s authentic story, vision and potential for the brand.”

Other notable investors joined MetaBrand Capital in the round, including Mark Rampolla, founder of Zico; and Brian Krumrei, Managing Director, TSG Consumer Partners; as well as investors from the music and entertainment industry including actor Channing Tatum, Jon Fishman, drummer for the band Phish, and Coran Capshaw, founder of artist management company Red Light Management. Nick Giannuzzi, attorney, The Giannuzzi Group, LLP, represented Runa in the deal.

Guayusa – Cousin to Yerba Maté – Helps Pave Way in “Healthy Energy” Beverages?Runa, co-founded in 2009 by college classmates Tyler Gage and Dan MacCombie, is a privately held company that sells beverages made from guayusa (pronounced “gwhy-you-sa”) leaves. Guayusa is a native Amazonian super-leaf with as much caffeine as a cup of coffee and double the polyphenols of leading green tea products. Unlike traditional teas, guayusa has no tannins and tastes surprisingly smooth and naturally sweet. Indigenous peoples in the Ecuadorian Amazon have brewed guayusa like tea for thousands of years as an essential part of what makes them “Runa” – fully alive. Runa partners directly with more than 3,000 indigenous farming families in a Fair Trade relationship. By organically growing guayusa in traditional forest gardens they help protect the rainforest.

“We’re excited to work with the powerhouse MetaBrand team in our efforts to become a leading brand and ingredient platform in the organic, specialty and conventional markets,” says Gage. “With this new investment, we plan to increase our support of the distributors and retailers that have helped us build our brand so far, and go deeper in key markets where Runa is growing.”

“Runa has emerged as one of the fastest growing organic ready-to-drink brands in the U.S. Like green tea, we see the opportunity for guayusa as an ingredient with useful applications in a range of healthy products from beverages to dietary supplements,” says Debbie Wildrick, MetaBrand Chief Advisory Officer.

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