- Liquid Death, a canned water startup that went viral for its punk-style branding, raised $9 million in Series A funding, the company announced Thursday. Velvet Sea Ventures led the round.
- The company’s viral marketing presence has created buzz about its Series A round since July, but the company took its time to attract “strategic” investors, CEO Mike Cessario told Business Insider.
- Several prominent tech founders and executives participated in the round, including Ring founder Jamie Siminoff, GirlBoss CEO Sophia Amoruso, Thrive Market CEO Nick Green and existing investors like Away co-founder Jen Rubio.
- The company’s new funding will now come in useful as it enters brick-and-mortar stores beginning with Whole Foods, and expands into the sparkling water market in March, Cessario told Business Insider.
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Punk-rock canned water startup Liquid Death raised $9 million in Series A funding, the company announced Thursday. Velvet Sea Ventures, a venture capital firm co-founded by Salesforce’s Mike Lazerow, led the round.
The ‘Murder Your Thirst’ company has grown in leaps and bounds since its edgy branding helped it go viral last year. It has thousands of devoted fans that subscribe to monthly and weekly shipments of its canned water – and a select 20 who have chosen to get tattoos inspired by Liquid Death, the company noted. It is “one of the only non-alcoholic drinks” that sells to bars across the country, according to Liquid Death CEO Mike Cessario. And it has been courting investors for its Series A fundraising round since July.
But the company took its time to curate a list of investors that were “strategic,” and would help the brand grow, Cessario told Business Insider. “We turned away people who didn’t click,” he elaborated.
The former Netflix creative director has now ended up with savvy tech founders and executives as investors, like Ring founder Jamie Siminoff, NastyGal and GirlBoss founder Sophia Amoruso, and Thrive Market CEO Thrive Market CEO Nick Green. Its previous investors, like Away’s co-founder Jen Rubio, were also part of the fundraising.
Taking on a new product and a new market
These investors will help guide the company as it takes on two massive challenges beginning in March: its entry into the brick-and-mortar world through an agreement to distribute its products in Whole Foods, and its new sparkling water, which will allow it to expand the market.
Liquid Death’s new sparkling water – also offered in a tallboy can – will allow it to take on buzzy competitors like LaCroix. Cessario is largely optimistic about the company’s ability to take on the market, noting that it was a fast-growing segment of the market.
“We always knew that sparkling’s one of the fastest-growing segments of the water market… it’s much smaller than the still water category, but it’s still popular,” Cessario said. “We kind of knew we wanted to be able to cover both bases.”
Cessario also noted that Liquid Death’s presence in bars would give it an edge in growing its sparkling water market: “We sell a lot of products to bars, which is pretty rare for a non-alcoholic drink…sparkling water makes a ton of sense in bars so bartenders can use them in cocktails,” he explained.
Cessario says the majority of the funding may need to go toward the more capital-intensive responsibilities it will need to fulfill as it expands into brick and mortar markets. Liquid Death will be offering its products in Whole Foods stores across the country, come March.
“We always knew that we were going to move into brick and mortar. When you’re water, it’s something people want to buy whenever they want rather than order it off the Internet,” Cessario told Business Insider, noting that the company had begun exploring that option in April.
“We’re basically using funds to hire a legit sales team that encompasses most of the major markets in the US, as well as the more capital-intensive tasks needed to enter brick and mortar,” Cessario added.
As the company prepares to take on new demographics and expand its base of subscribers, it is also doubling down on its eco-friendly messaging. Liquid Death’s latest marketing campaign moves away from “building the cool, irreverent brand,” and tweaks its messaging to be “a bit more focused on death to plastic,” Cessario told Business Insider. Its latest marketing campaign takes place in a hell overrun with plastic bottles.
“Why is someone going to pick up Liquid Death? We knew it was going to be brand.” Cessario explained. “Now that we’ve got our grand foothold, we’ll be moving into messaging.”
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