NEW YORK, United States — American matcha brand MatchaBar will forge ahead with plans to shake up the $22B energy drink market, following the completion of a $8M funding round.
Led by a roster of high profile investors including producer and DJ Diplo, NFL player Von Miller and actor Ansel Elgort, the latest round will be directed towards the rapid expansion of the brand’s line of bottled and canned matcha drinks, including its first sparkling matcha energy drink – Hustle.
According to the brand, the aim is to create a clean form of energy drinks, using healthier, natural ingredients, in a bid to turn the existing category on its head.
“The language of energy is universal, and MatchaBar aims to deliver a better and more natural energy for today’s hustle,” explained MatchaBar Co-Founder Graham Fortgang.
“MatchaBar offers a sustained, focused energy setting it apart from the jolt and crash associated with coffee, espresso and energy drinks that are currently out on the market,” he added.
Founded in 2014, by brothers Max and Graham Fortgang, MatchaBar launched as the first matcha café in the US. Known for its innovative flavour combinations and unconventional marketing, the brand has expanded its community from New York to LA.
Currently operating stores in New York’s Chelsea and SoHo neighbourhoods, as well as a third cafe in Los Angeles, the business has continued its mission to bring matcha to the mainstream market, launching a ready-to-drink version of its matcha beverages in 2015, which currently sells into more than 1,000 accounts, including nationwide Whole Foods distribution.
Hustle, a sparkling matcha energy drink, hit stores across the US in June 2018. Using tea as well as antioxidant-rich juice extracts, it contains a higher amount of caffeine per can than competitor Red Bull, but without the added chemicals.
According to Mintel, 30% of energy drink users now consume natural energy drinks — a figure highlighted by the US natural energy market’s 16.2% year-over-year growth. Not going unnoticed, in addition to sparking innovation, the category’s positive outlook has also been attracting investment elsewhere.
Last month, leading coconut water brand Vita Coco entered the natural energy drinks category with the purchase of organic, clean energy drink Runa. At the time, Vita Coco Co-Founder and CEO Michael Kirban explained:
“When we look at the established categories of beverage, one of the greatest opportunities is in energy drinks. Most energy drinks are nothing more than functional carbonated soft drinks and the appeal of sugary beverages continues to decline. Runa’s proposition is different and authentic, and we believe that consumers around the world are ready to leave behind conventional energy drinks with synthetic ingredients and unnecessary additives for healthier alternatives like Runa.”
Like Runa, which has also attracted the support of high-profile investors, MatchaBar will have to contend with the increased focus on the better-for-you space, from larger players like Coke and Pepsi, both of which have been revamping products to cater for health-conscious consumers. However, that isn’t fazing Fortgang.
“The key to disrupting the energy category is engaging culture and creating a lifestyle and set of values behind the brand and product,” he argued.
“We’ve been building that on the ground for the past four years through our cafés, our activations across the country, and with meaningful partnerships investing in companies and individuals that are defining tomorrow. The hustle is real, and we are thrilled to share our journey as we set to become the next great American energy drink.”