Back to the Roots, an Oakland, California startup pioneering how families reconnect with food, announced today that it has expanded its January crowdfunding campaign on CircleUp into a $10M Series A. The new investment was led by Acre Venture Partners, Campbell Soup’s venture capital fund for food startups, and also includes funding from S2G Ventures and Red Sea Ventures.
From its auspicious beginnings as a college science experiment, Back to the Roots co-founders Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez first made waves with their home mushroom-growing kits. From there, the team expanded its product line with a table-top aquaponic herb-growing system, both aimed at helping kids better understand nutrient cycling and food production. Since then, the momentum has grown and shows no signs of stopping: Back to the Roots products are now in 2,300 schools nationwide and 14,000 retailers worldwide, and this spring saw the launch of five additional products: In its Ready to Grow line, the company introduced three varieties of Garden-in-a-Jar — a windowsill planter in a mason jar format that allows families to watch the roots as they grow; a first-of-its-kind Organic Self Watering Tomato Planter, offering a low-maintenance solution to indoor tomato gardening using ancient “olla technology”; and on the Ready to Eat side, its popular Organic Stoneground Flakes cereal line now includes Biodynamic® Cinnamon Clusters — the first Biodynamic cereal to ever hit U.S. shelves.
After a milestone year for Back to the Roots — launching 10 new products, expanding into 2,300 schools nationwide, and entering the cereal category — the company shows no signs of slowing down.
“We are so inspired by the response from our community this year and the opportunity ahead to help families connect the dots between growing and eating food,” Arora says. “With our new partners, we will be able to amplify our impact and reach more classrooms, cafeterias, and store shelves.”
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“We share Back to the Roots founders’ vision to ‘undo food’ and connect families back to where it comes from,” said Gareth Asten, partner at Acre Venture Partners. “We believe that the future of food relies on transparency, health, and sustainability, and Back to the Roots encompasses all three aspects.”
Sam Kass, previously Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition Policy at the White House, now of Acre Venture Partners, added: “Back to the Roots’ school education program teaches kids about the food they eat and where it comes from in a hands-on learning environment, which is an essential piece of the puzzle to change how we all think about food. Combined with products that bring those values to the plates of young people, Back to the Roots is on track to help transform food for the next generation.”
The team says the additional funding will be used to accelerate product development, scale distribution within the retail and education sectors, and continue growing the Back to the Roots team.
“There is nothing more personal than food and what we put into our bodies,” Velez says. “Together, with our customers, team, investors, and retail partners, we’re excited to reconnect families back to where it comes from and make a lasting impact on the food system.”