- Organic superfood brand’s Co-Founders were made offers by all five of the influential investors on the BBC show, eventually negotiating £50,000 for 6% equity
- The Newcastle-based startup is now aiming to raise £550,000 on crowdfunding platform Seedrs, at a £4.95 million valuation ahead of international expansion.
- Super U’s success is indicative of the strength of the organic market in the UK, which enjoyed its highest year-on-year growth in 15 years, according to the Soil Association.
LONDON, United Kingdom — Organic superfood brand Super U has launched a crowdfunding raise to fuel international expansion, following a successful appearance on British television’s Dragons’ Den, earlier this month.
Co-Founders Charlotte Bailey (24) and Sean Ali (28) were made offers by all five of the influential investors on the BBC show, eventually negotiating a joint deal with Tej Lalvani, the CEO of Vitabiotics, and serial entrepreneur Peter Jones for £50,000 in return for a 6% split of equity.
“Getting a deal with both Tej and Peter was so surreal,” said Bailey. “We loved all of the dragons but felt they were the best dragons to help us take our business to the next level. I’m just so grateful that we experienced that together and it’s something we will remember forever.”
Their 15 minutes of fame has had an instant impact on the business. On the night the show aired, Super U did over £170,000 in online sales, say the founders. Now the Newcastle-based startup is aiming to raise £550,000 on crowdfunding platform Seedrs, at a £4.95 million valuation.
Accelerating demand and international expansion
Bailey and Ali started Super U in 2017 during their final year at Nottingham Trent University, and both have since had to battle serious health conditions while building their brand.
At university Bailey was diagnosed with coeliac disease and found superfood ingredients helped alleviate her symptoms, leading to early iterations of today’s Super U blends. A year into the business Ali was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of blood cancer, which he is thankfully now in full remission from.
Despite these major challenges, Super U turned over £495,000 last year, up 264% on its second year of business, and is now preparing to roll out distribution in the US.
“We opened our pre-registration crowdfunding page on the day Dragons’ Den aired and already have over 1,800 sign-ups,” Bailey told Welltodo.
The founders said the funds raised would enable the startup to keep up with accelerating demand in the UK and support its US launch and team expansion.
“We plan to launch online in the US towards the latter part of this financial year, through our website and Amazon USA,” Ali explained, adding the company is targeting the west coast in particular with plans to open a fulfilment centre in California.
Organic UK market has seen its highest YoY growth in 15 years
Super U’s impressive growth in 2020 and investment potential in the eyes of the Dragons’ Den panel is a testament to the hard work the founders have put in. Yet it’s also indicative of the strength of the organic market in the UK, which enjoyed its highest year-on-year growth in 15 years according to the Soil Association.
According to the charity’s 2021 report, the organic market is now worth £2.79 billion, having outperformed the non-organic sector through 2020, with consumers increasingly embracing organic food, beauty and wellness products.
Online and home delivery sales fuelled much of the growth, with almost one in four organic products purchased online in 2020. Sales of Soil Association-certified beauty and wellness products also grew 13% to a total of £120.2 million last year.
All of Super U’s blends are certified organic, gluten-free and plant-based with no sweeteners flavourings or fillers. From berries to greens, functional mushrooms, adaptogens and plant proteins, the brand’s stated mission is to make these superfoods more accessible for everybody.
Commenting on the origins of the brand, Bailey said: “We were becoming increasingly aware how the stresses and strains of general life were affecting people’s ability to provide their bodies with the daily nutrients they need to be at their best.
“We wanted to create a product proposition that would take just five minutes to incorporate into your daily routine, but would also be hugely beneficial health-wise as well as being convenient and accessible.”
Record year for F&B brands on Seedrs in 2020
Super U’s crowdfunding campaign follows a record year for food and beverage brands on Seedrs. The platform reported 121% growth in investment for the sector in 2020, with 15 campaigns raising over £1 million, a three-fold increase on any previous year.
Allplants (£4.5 million) and THIS (£4.5 million), which each promote the adoption of plant-based diets, were the largest F&B fundraisers on Seedrs last year.
Their success, Super U will hope, could pave the way for the superfood startup to enjoy similar fortunes when its raise opens later this month.