LOS ANGELES — Barcode, a functional hydration startup founded by a National Basketball Association coach, closed $2.2 million in its latest funding round.
Founder Mubarak Malik has spent decades training professional athletes and celebrities. He currently is working with the Los Angeles Lakers and was the former head of performance for the New York Knicks. He launched Barcode less than a year ago as an alternative to traditional hydration beverages made with added electrolytes.
Positioned as a low-sugar, nutrient dense and functional alternative to market incumbents, the sports drink is boosted with multivitamins, ashwagandha and magnesium to help increase full body resiliency. Varieties include lemon-lime, watermelon and pinot noir, with each 12-pack sold for $48.
Initially a digitally native brand, Barcode has secured distribution partnerships with Los Angeles Distribution and Erewhon Market. It has become a top-performing sports drink in Erewhon’s stores across Los Angeles, said Vito Antoci, vice president of the specialty supermarket chain.
“We believe in better-for-you alternatives in the ready-to-drink category that naturally make a difference in the way you feel,” he said.
Barcode is gearing up to enter additional stores across Texas and launch via Amazon next month. Mr. Malik plans to scale the business steadily over time by focusing on the natural channel in Southern California, Texas and Florida before expanding across the United States.
The $2.2 million funding round, which included participation from Trousdale Ventures, Midnight Venture Partners, Cathexis Ventures, Silas Capital, Gaingels and Erewhon Market, plus music artist and television producer Kelly Rowland and professional basketball player Maurice Harkless, will be used for branding, product innovation and marketing.“I want Barcode to be an iconic brand — one that was born in NBA with athletes, moved to Hollywood to take on the better-for-you epicenter and eventually dominate the natural channel,” Mr. Malik said.