NEW YORK — Iris Nova, a direct-to-consumer beverage company, has announced a $15 million round of seed funding including investment from the Coca-Cola Co.’s Venturing & Emerging Brands (V.E.B.) business unit. The company said it plans to expand its portfolio of brands and technology through its text message-based distribution platform.
Iris Nova launched its first brand, Dirty Lemon, in 2015 as a first-of-its-kind beverage sold exclusively by text message. Dirty Lemon has doubled revenue year over year since inception and is projecting growth of 250% in 2019. Its lineup of products includes trending ingredients such as turmeric, collagen, charcoal, matcha and ginseng.
A second concept, The Drug Store, is described as a retail experience used to test new beverage concepts before they are produced on a national scale using a direct-to-consumer “conversational commerce” model, or “c-commerce,” which interacts with consumers via text message. Iris Nova is developing two additional beverage concepts set to launch in 2019.
“Iris Nova is driving innovation in an industry primed for disruption — our data-driven approach challenges the status quo, bringing emerging beverage products to market faster,” said Zak Normandin, founder of Iris Nova, which means “new lens” in Latin. “Most importantly, we’re prioritizing genuine connection with our customers through a communication channel typically reserved for friends and family.”
Coca-Cola's V.E.B. was created with a mission to identify and nurture businesses with “billion-dollar potential.” Its family of brands include Zico, Fairlife, Suja and Honest Tea, among others. Through partnerships with L.A. Libations, an investment group and beverage incubator, and First Beverage Group’s venture capital arm, Coca-Cola has an indirect ownership stake in more than 12 up-and-coming beverage brands.
“As our company’s futurist group, we are investing in thought-pioneers like Zak and companies like Iris Nova that can help us tap into consumer trends to bring even more products to market faster through new technology and innovation like c-commerce,” Coca-Cola said. “As we continue to evolve as a total beverage company, V.E.B. will always seek to invest in and learn from people, products, technologies and companies that have a vision of what the future could be.”