SA’s Beverage Startup Pura Raises Cash From Knife Capital

"Its intellectual property is built on in-house expertise and consumer insights; the highly experienced team comprises former AB InBev, SABMiller, Coca-Cola, Mars and Red Bull executives."

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Keet van Zyl, Investment Partner at Knife. and Greig Jansen, CEO and Founder of PURA
Keet van Zyl, Investment Partner at Knife. and Greig Jansen, CEO and Founder of PURA

Innovative low sugar and natural flavour beverage startup Pura Beverage Company, founded by Greig Jansen, has raised undisclosed capital from South African venture capital firm Knife Capital.

The investment in Pura is made through a consortium of funding partnerships, including SARS section 12J Venture Capital Company KNF Ventures and select family offices.

The current funding will be used by the startup to ramp up operations, boost marketing initiatives, build team capacity, develop new products and provide working capital to ensure that Pura keeps up with demand.

Pura is positioning itself as South Africa’s ‘only’ beverage company that represents the evolution of soda and is part of an emerging beverage category known as ‘Evolved Refreshment’, which embraces the increasing consumer interest in health and wellbeing.

Evolved_Refreshment
Evolved_Refreshment

Tasty and refreshing, Pura Soda has just five ingredients, a sprinkle of pure cane sugar and a skinny 50-55 calories per 330 ml can. It’s soda Pura and simple. Or, as te company likes to call it, the evolution of soda.

Pura has no animal by-products either.

“Consumers still want taste and refreshment but without expense and artificial sweeteners. Pura is a low-sugar beverage – it only has five ingredients and contains less than a third of the sugar of most soft drinks available in the market – making the soft drink affordable as it falls below the sugar tax threshold,” says Greig Jansen, CEO and founder of Pura.

Current Pura flavours are ‘Cucumber & Lime’, ‘Seville Orange’, ‘Lemon & Elderflower’, ‘Pomegranate’, and ‘Cranberry’

Knife Capital is an independent growth equity investment firm focusing on innovation-driven ventures with proven traction. By leveraging knowledge, networks & funding, it accelerates the international expansion of entrepreneurial businesses that achieved a product/market fit in a beachhead market.

Pura is the fifth investment from Knife Capital’s Section 12J Venture Capital Fund – KNF Ventures – and an interesting proposition for the traditionally tech-focused VC.

Commenting on the funding, Andrea Bӧhmert, co-managing partner at Knife, said: “We invest in scalable innovation-driven ventures with proven traction, backed by a management team that can execute an ambitious growth plan.”

He added that Pura embodies everything Knife Capital look for in a portfolio company.

“Its intellectual property is built on in-house expertise and consumer insights; the highly experienced team comprises former AB InBev, SABMiller, Coca-Cola, Mars and Red Bull executives; it has shown exponential growth over the past two years through established market channels; and by partnering with third-party manufacturing and logistics providers the business becomes highly scalable,” Bӧhmert explains.

“We believe that it also reflects the spirit of Section 12J investment in local SMEs that innovate to create and maintain jobs while growing the economy and broadening the South African tax base.”

Bӧhmert added that there are potential synergies with follow-on investment partners and opportunities for Pura from the private equity side of Knife Capital’s business, where there is already some exposure to food processing and manufacturing businesses.

After extensive consumer trials and testing, Pura launched onto the South African market in the first quarter of 2017.

PURA_Soda_Pour
PURA_Soda_Pour

The business grew aggressively and is currently available in most major South African retailers and convenience outlets, including Pick n Pay, Spar and Checkers supermarkets, Engen, Shell and other forecourts, and most recently Clicks stores.

Pura has also started to export significant volumes to select international markets, with a view to going global.

The Pura brand has been developed for international expansion with South Africa as its beachhead market, and the company is already starting to export to a number of regions.

“We also have some product extensions planned, all of which are currently within the beverage segment, but we may venture beyond beverages in the years to come,” Jansen hints.

“Although not a mixer, Pura Sodas also mix very well with alcohol, and we have already collaborated with some internationally recognised alcohol brands.”

The company’s strategy for the future revolves around its tagline: ‘Live a Little Pura’.

“We want to tap into consumers’ internal discourse and show them that we know life is full of high-sugar content and artificial ingredients, making them think about how they can choose a healthier, great-tasting and refreshing beverage for the same cost,” Jansen explains.

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