Hum Nutrition, which makes beauty supplements and other vitamins, has raised $4 million.
The brand raised the round from the debut fund of CircleUp’s CircleUp Growth Partners. The $125 million fund just closed, and invests in early-stage consumer and retail companies. Hum and snack brand 4505 Chicharrones are its first investments.
Hum makes different types of vitamins that can be built into customized regimens. Products include Daily Cleanse, meant to clear the body of toxins; Red Carpet, meant for “glowing skin and shiny fuller hair”; Flatter Me, a digestive enzyme; Big Chill, for stress; Arctic Repair, meant to reduce wrinkles, and Beauty Zzzz, for beauty sleep.
The business was founded from the idea that beauty starts on the inside, said cofounder and chief executive officer Walter Faulstroh. Faulstroh said he first became interested in vitamins during his functional beverage days in the early Aughts. (He founded V Water, which was acquired by PepsiCo in 2008.)
Hum has been growing about 30 percent per quarter, he said.
The products are sold at Sephora, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters and online. About 70 percent of sales are through Hum’s web site, while the rest come from retail distribution, Faulstroh said.
The additional capital will allow Hum — which is profitable, Faulstroh noted — to stay ahead of its competition, ramp up innovation and add to the team, he said, particularly the marketing and quality control team.
“The big picture isn’t about these smaller parts, it’s about completely changing the perception of beauty — that this is a journey that starts with the inside,” Faulstroh said.
CircleUp Growth Partners takes a technology and data-driven approach to its investments. The fund uses a proprietary machine learning platform called Helio for deal sourcing, investment decisions and post-close business insights. Helio works by collecting and analyzing publicly available, private and other data to help guide CircleUp’s decisions, according to Alison Ryu, managing director of funds at CircleUp. The idea is that Helio can help CircleUp sort through many potential investment opportunities instead of CircleUp sending a human around the U.S. to evaluate deal opportunities.
“If you look at the landscape of consumer investing today there are natural biases in where consumer funds are spending time,” Ryu said. “With a fund driven by technology helping to identify the winners, we can…try to improve on some of those biases.”
CircleUp Growth Partners will operate alongside the company’s broader marketplace, which aims to connect small consumer companies with early-stage capital.
“The marketplace acts as a platform to connect early-stage consumer brands with institutional or angel investors,” Ryu said.
Brands in the consumer packaged goods world don’t often have the same fund-raising strategies as technology start-ups, which regularly raise capital pre revenue, Ryu said. “There’s been a real white space in the ability to raise capital in that early stage in their trajectory,” she noted. Beauty Bakerie recently raised money as a result of the platform.
With the fund, CircleUp plans to make its own investments in consumer companies — they don’t necessarily have to be part of the marketplace, but can be, Ryu said. CircleUp will also invest alongside other investors, she said. The fund’s limited partners include Temasek, Euclidean Capital, Annie’s Homegrown cofounder John Foraker, Plum Organics founder Gigi Lee Chang, Luxury Brand Partners heads Tevya and Deva Finger, as well as former Blackrock executive of scientific active equity Ken Kroner. Ryu estimated the fund would do around 40 deals, and follow-up initial investments with larger checks in the future.
“CircleUp decided to raise this $125 million fund because we saw a real opportunity to play in a white space in terms of consumer brands looking for $1 million to $3 million early in their trajectory, but not necessarily able to find the right investor fit,” Ryu said, noting that many more traditional investors write checks upwards of $10 million per deal. CircleUp is looking to invest in companies that have between $1 million and $15 million in revenue.