Having raised its first $2 million and completed its first full year of sales, Runa is off and, well, ……running.
Runa makes a tea beverage from guayusa leaves which are found only in the Amazonian regions of Colombia and particularly Ecuador. It buys those leaves from indigenous growers who otherwise live on less than US$2,000 per year. Runa’s affiliated company and foundation in Ecuador provide additional jobs and reforestation. Surprisingly, the Ecuadorian government recognizes the benefit of Runa’s work and has purchased a minority stake in Runa’s Ecuadorian affiliate, Runatarpuna.
But the beverage part of the story originates from its headquarters in Brooklyn. Runa sold about $250,000 worth of tea bags and bulk tea leaves in 2011 and plans to sell about $1m in 2012. A big boost to its sales will come from the introduction this spring of a ready-to-drink bottled tea beverage that will hit the shelves of Whole Foods and Wegman’s stores in the New York region.
The consumer beverage industry is highly competitive with new flavored waters, energy drinks and health drinks gaining market share at the expense of traditional colas and sodas. In some respects, Runa’s product, which comes in four different flavors, may represent the holy grail of a new consumer beverage. In addition to being organic and fair-trade certified, Runa is naturally sweet so it is low in calories. It’s also high in antioxidants and caffeine so it contributes to health and provides an energy boost as well. But its taste will determine its eventual success.
To finance the rapid increase in sales of the bottled beverage, Runa is now raising a $1.5 million Series A preferred round at a pre-money valuation of $3 million. Some of that round is pre-sold and the round may be fully subscribed before its official closing date in July. For more information or to invest, write to Tyler Gage, CEO.