5 Chicago Consumer Startups That Will Help You Keep Your New Year's Resolutions
It’s mid-January, which means 80% of people who made New Year’s Resolutions are two weeks away from dropping them. But a recent boom in the Chicago startup scene may help drive that percentage down, especially for those who resolved to eat cleaner and healthier.
Five Chicago consumer startups in the simple food and beverage space raised over $60M in venture. Interestingly, the companies – Label Insight, Vital Proteins, the Safe + Fair Food Company, Tovala, and Farmer’s Fridge all feature label transparency as core elements of their offerings, and their raises come on the heels of RXBar’s $600M acquisition by Kellogg’s in the fall of 2017.
For Label Insight, label transparency is the offering. The tech company uses a cloud-based data engine to provide transparency into labels on consumer packaged goods ranging from food to pet and personal care products.
In December, Label Insight raised $21M in a round led by Delta-v Capital, with participation from River Cities Capital Funds to continue product development and build out its team of data scientists. With the addition of this new capital, the company has raised more than $35M since 2008.
Like Label Insight, Vital Proteins is committed to label transparency, though its core product isn’t data-based or cloud-supported, but nutritional. The company is a leader in producing clean-label, whole food-based nutrition collagen supplements.
Since launching four years ago, Vital Proteins has expanded its reach to over 8,000 retail stores including Whole Foods, GNC, and Vitamin Shoppe. This growth attracted the attention of CAVU Venture Partners, who invested $19M late last year.
Tovala also bases its product and brand on whole foods, clean ingredients, and transparent labels. The company produces a smart steam oven that scans the barcodes on its premade meals and uses data from the cloud to determine how to cook them. The goal is to provide more healthy meals to busy people who care about nutrition but don’t have time to cook.
The startup raised its $9.2M Series A round from lead investor Origin Ventures, along with previous investors Pritzker Group Venture Capital, Y Combinator, and Morningstar Founder Joe Mansueto. Since 2015, Tovala has raised over $13M in venture capital.
Similarly, Farmer’s Fridge (which my firm Hyde Park Angels invested in), raised an institutional round in 2017 to support its mission of bringing simple, clean eating to consumers everywhere. The company is transforming vending machines into state-of-the-art self-serve restaurants by offering fresh, healthy food instead of traditional packaged fare.
Finally, Chicago-based simple food and beverage player, The Safe + Fair Food Company, raised $10M from Acre Venture Partners last year. The company launched two new major offerings at the end of 2017 to promote healthy, clean, and allergy-free eating. It’s The Kid’s Stuff and Good to Give brands are made without nuts, artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.
The company was founded in 2017 at the height of the simple food and beverage movement with the goal of providing affordably priced, clean-ingredient, and allergy-safe foods.
It’s emergence on the scene, along with the major funding successes of Label Insight, Vital Proteins, Farmer’s Fridgeand Tovala, signal strong continued growth in Chicago consumer startups I expect to see evolve this year. Plus, incorporating these startup products into your daily routine might earn you a spot as one of the 8% of people who actually keep their New Year’s Resolutions.
This story originally appeared in Forbes on January 24, 2018.