Once in a while there comes a company that successfully blurs the boundary between two industries. Be it Tesla (TSLA) that merged automobile and technology, or Amazon (AMZN) that combined technology and retail, the markets never fail to identify their potential.
One more company is currently doing the same, quite startlingly, in the beverage industry, which has been going through a dry phase. Primarily driven by a shift in consumer interest away from sparkling drinks, even industry giants PepsiCo (PEP) an Coca Cola (KO) have been strictly trading sideways throughout 2018.
Meanwhile, Iris Nova, the maker of Dirty Lemon branded drinks, has been trying to bridge the beverage retail and technology industries with its SMS-based sales model and social media-focused marketing methods.
Dirty Lemon, founded in 2015 by Zak Normandin, has attained a cult status for its functional beverage that is available in flavors including turmeric, collagen, charcoal, matcha and ginseng. A flavor based on cannabis constituent CBD was removed later on to avoid any regulatory logjams at the time of funding.
Dirty Lemon drinks can be purchased by sending a text message, after a one-time online registration, which links the users’ credit card with the cell number.
Coca Cola was early to identify the prospects of this budding beverage company and in December announced a $15 million round of seed funding. Taking into account this latest round of funding, the company is valued at approximately $60 million. Iris Nova’s other backers include venture capital firms Greycroft and Imaginary Ventures.
Thanks to its millennial-pleasing peppy marketing strategy and aggressive Instagram presence, the company has consistently produced revenues that have doubled year-over-year. For 2019, Iris Nova projects a revenue growth of an even better 250%.
And even as retailers are shuttering stores, the company opened its first physical store in New York last September. The brick-and-mortar store on Church Street will be more of a “walk-in vending machine,” as consumers will be picking up drinks by texting from their cellphones. There will be no checkouts or credit card swipes.
The company is hoping to use the new funding to expand its retail presence this year. While it is still unclear how many more stores are coming up in the near future, Dirty Lemon’s prominence in the short span makes it a darling for venture capitalists.
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