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Why a group of former Burt's Bees execs are betting on coffee and keto

Zachery Eanes on

Published in Business News

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Triangle is known for its software and biotechnology startups, but John Replogle, the former CEO of Burt's Bees and Seventh Generation, thinks it has a chance to become a hotbed for consumer goods companies.

That's why he helped start One Better Ventures, a Raleigh-based venture capital firm that is aiming to foster a cohort of promising consumer-product startups across the Triangle.

In its first two years, One Better Ventures has made six investments worth $50 million, ranging from infusions of capital at Durham-based Disruptive Enterprises, a company making food products for the ketogenic diet, to Raleigh's Slingshot Coffee, which makes premium cold brew coffee drinks.

"We invest in purpose-driven companies and we work very actively with those companies," Replogle said, noting his fund looks for companies pushing sustainable practices or promoting healthier lifestyles. "We are not the typical venture-capital or private-equity group. We help leadership set strategies and solve problems."

The firm is made up of leadership alumni from cleaning products company Seventh Generation and personal-care products maker Burt's Bees, a company that the state of North Carolina recruited away from Maine to Durham in 1999. After working at Burt's, many of its executives remained in the area; Replogle, who went on to lead Seventh Generation, commuted from Raleigh to New England for that job.

Beyond its core team, the fund has a network of 100 limited partners who choose the companies they invest in.

 

"There is no capital commitment," Replogle said. "Unlike other funds where you invest money and don't get a say in what the fund puts money in, we have a number of (limited partners) that have been in every deal, but we have some that have cherry picked."

A 'PLATINUM' ROLODEX

With its background in the retail industry, the group believes it can call upon its experience and connections to supercharge the growth of the companies it invests in -- a few of which are located in New England and Virginia as well.

Retail can be a connections game. With limited space on the shelves of a grocery or convenience store, the jostling to even appear in a store can be intense and require months of negotiations.

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