NEW YORK — Asian-inspired sparkling water brand Sanzo has raised $10 million in a Series A financing round led by CircleUp Growth Partners.
Founded in 2019, Sanzo is formulated with fruit and no added sugar, artificial flavors or preservatives. Varieties include lychee, calamansi lime, alphonso mango and yuzu ginger. Products are sold online and in more than 2,000 retail and foodservice outlets, including Panda Express, Erewhon and Whole Foods Market. Founder and chief executive officer Sandro Roco, a Filipino-American, created the brand to bridge Eastern and Western cultures.
“I founded Sanzo because there was such a stark divide between the clean, natural formulas that you see across the board in mainstream supermarkets and the high-quality, beloved Asian flavors that represent more than half of the world’s population,” Mr. Roco said. “Whether they grew up with these flavors or are just tasting them for the first time it is incredibly exciting and humbling to see customers incorporating these flavors into their daily routines.”
In 2020 and 2021, the business grew fivefold year-over-year, with a greater than 30% repeat purchase rate in direct-to-consumer sales, according to the company. Sanzo is introducing limited-edition cans inspired by “Turning Red,” a Disney and Pixar film debuting in March. Previously, the beverage brand partnered with Marvel Studios for its theatrical release of “Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings.”
Additional investors in the round include Convivialite Ventures, Semillero Partners, Gold House Ventures, Kaya Ventures and former Coca-Cola Co. executive Francisco Crespo. Previous investors Mana Ventures, Outbound Ventures, and Hyphen Capital also participated in the round. Another previous investor is “Shang-Chi” actor Simu Liu.
Patrick Robinson, managing director of CircleUp Growth Partners, will join Sanzo’s board of directors.“Sanzo stood out to us by delivering what consumers are looking for — innovative and bold flavors combined with a healthier nutritional profile and an authentic, rabid fan base,” Mr. Robinson said. “The sales velocities and capital efficiency Sanzo has achieved this early on in its lifecycle, especially during the pandemic, demonstrated to us that there is something very special going on. Layering on the brand partnerships and cultural resonance of the brand, plus Sandro’s vision for the future, we became even more excited to partner up and help him build the next iconic beverage brand.”