Celebrities putting their money behind trendy start-ups is nothing new. Casper, DocuSign, Airbnb, and Box all have famous names among their backers. Now, however, celebrities are turning to a new area of investment: independent food brands.
Drake recently made a private investment in New York-based café MatchaBar. The financing will enable the brand to open two locations and expand into pre-packaged products, including a matcha energy drink that will be available in Whole Foods in September. Matchapapi’s leap into caffeinated green tea powder aligns itself with the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow’s investment in frozen food startup Daily Harvest and Olivia Munn’s backing of specialty jerky brand Chef’s Cut Real Jerky.
Independent food brands without famous backers can look to the digital disruption of the grocery industry to capture growth and popularity among consumers. Online platforms such as Amazon offer cheap fulfillment and accessible merchandising opportunities that result in lower barriers to entry, incentivizing smaller food brands to sell online. Amazon’s top 100 Best Sellers list in the Grocery & Gourmet category includes a host of independently owned food products that, for the first time, are outselling established legacy brands, according to L2’s Digital IQ Index Food: US.
Traditionally, such brands have relied on large marketing budgets to invest in pricy eye-level shelf placement and in-store endcap displays. However, the growth of the online grocery market offers a level playing field for new products and small brands to reach consumers who were previously inaccessible to them.
Drake “embodies the entrepreneurial spirit of our brand, but also our company’s ethos ‘good things come to those who hustle’,” MatchaBar co-founder Graham Fortang said. For those who don’t enjoy the rewards of partnering with Drake, Amazon is making the hustle just a little bit easier.