Despite volatility in the current economic landscape, PeaTos snack brand continues to disrupt the $21B market for salty “junk food” style snacks currently dominated by industry Goliath Frito Lay, and has completed a $7M Series A raise led by Jackson Springs Management Partners (JSMP) and Connetic Ventures, and including such celebrity investors as Hall of Fame basketball player Tracy McGrady.
“While the global pandemic has been a very challenging time for so many, PeaTos has been fortunate to see strong growth in all channels,” says Nick Desai, founder and CEO. “We are ecstatic to have received such an enthusiastic response to our raise as well as to welcome Greg Pearlman of JSMP to the Board.”
JSMP provides strategic advice and long-term capital to help family- and entrepreneur-led businesses to pursue their strategic and financial objectives. Co-founder Greg Pearlman adds, “We are excited to be working with Nick and the PeaTos team to help drive the growth of this exciting and on-trend product.”
Chief investment officer at Connetic Ventures Kyle Schlotman has also signed on to back the startup snack brand. “By coupling with a data company like ours that challenges the existing VC paradigm by adding AI and machine learning to find companies is in itself a disruptive move and says a lot about the forward-thinking ability of PeaTos leadership,” says Schlotman.
PeaTos uses innovative and proprietary techniques, along with an irreverent spirit, to swap out the traditional corn base and artificial ingredients from America’s biggest snack brands like Cheetos® and Funyuns, replacing them with nutrient dense peas and natural ingredients. The resulting snack resembles America’s favorite “junk food” but is gluten free, NON-GMO, with no added MSG or artificial ingredients, and has 2X the protein and 3X the fiber. “So many survey respondents have communicated to us that they like the taste and crunch of PeaTos more than their old school counterparts. Kids love PeaTos and moms can trade out traditional ‘junk food’ brands like Cheetos and Funyuns with PeaTos,” Desai says. Even among survey respondents who had never tried the product, 92% admitted to being curious about it based on the ads alone.
In less than two years, PeaTos has become a force in the salty snack industry, experiencing massive growth in both the e-commerce space and in traditional retailers like Kroger, Safeway, Albertsons, 7-11, and now Costco. PeaTos are available in two styles: crunchy curls and crunchy rings, and five bold flavors including Classic Cheese Curls, Fiery Hot Curls, Zesty Ranch Curls, Classic Onion Rings, and Fiery Onion Rings. The brand recently launched a series of provocative ads dubbed “Hey Chester,” a tongue-in-cheek nod to its rivalry with Cheetos®—punctuated with the brand’s new tagline, “Junk Food Without the Junk.”
It isn't hard to see why the company has garnered so much attention among investors, consumers, celebrities, and professional athletes. NBA All-Star Tracy McGrady has signed on to do a series of social media initiatives to back the brand. “Things started getting pretty crazy when I had to start hiding the Zesty Ranch Curls from the kids,” says McGrady.
The brand is fortunate to already have some serious muscle in the form of early investors and advisors on their side, including high-profile food industry veterans like Lenny & Larry’s former CEO Apu Mody (former President of Mars Food North America), Carlos Barroso (former head of Global R&D for Frito Lay), Carl E. Lee Jr. (former president & CEO at Snyder's Lance), and Dean Hollis (former president and chief operating officer of ConAgra Foods), putting PeaTos well on the path toward revolutionizing the way America snacks for generations to come.