The Flexible Capital Fund (Flex Fund) announced a $300,000 investment in Aqua ViTea, LLC, to support the continued growth of the Company’s Vermont operations today. Aqua ViTea employs 34 Vermonters, producing Kombucha, a handcrafted, tea-based, functional health beverage.
Flex Fund’s investment will support the critical purchase of a bottling line that will help Aqua ViTea expand its production capacity in Middlebury and meet the growing demand of its customers in Vermont and beyond. The Flexible Fund helps small and innovative companies, like Aqua ViTea, stay and grow in Vermont through the use of an innovative investment structure known as royalty (or revenue-share) financing.
“Aqua ViTea is a great addition to the Flex Fund portfolio of companies,” said Janice St. Onge, President of Flex Fund. “Aqua ViTea has built a national reputation for a quality, Vermont branded product with a competitive advantage. The company’s focus on local purchasing, their interest in supporting other Vermont businesses who are preserving our working lands, and their ability to create quality jobs are a strong fit with the Flex Fund’s mission. A majority of all Aqua ViTea’s total annual expenses (67%) are spent on products and services from Vermont suppliers/providers.
Aqua ViTea has seen tremendous growth in the last couple of years, due in large part to its pioneering deployment of in-store Kombucha Fountain systems, self-serve, on-tap beverage dispensers. Aqua ViTea’s self-serve fountains have enabled the company to create a niche market, which appeals to both vendors and customers. The fountains save thousands of pounds of consumer waste each year by encouraging customers to use refillable containers. Aqua ViTea has 11 Kombucha flavors, including the popular Peachmint and BlueBernie, and its products can be found in 1500 stores in 15 states.
The retail Kombucha market was essentially non-existent before the year 2000. Over the past 15 years, market visibility has grown exponentially, and Kombucha has moved from select health food stores and specialty markets to filling shelf space in conventional grocery chains across the nation. After more than a decade of rapid growth, the Kombucha movement has begun to infiltrate the world of mainstream beverages, offering a decidedly healthier alternative just as monolithic soda companies experience significant declines.
“Despite its recent popularity explosion and future potential, Kombucha still can be perplexing to consumers and even savvy investors,” said Aqua ViTea Founder Jeff Weaber. “Janice and the folks at Flex Fund understood our product and company culture right away and have been both important strategic investors and sage advisers as we navigate our growth plan.”