Verb Energy, the popular Yale startup that sells caffeinated energy bars to college students, has raised close to one million dollars from several venture capital firms and angel investors as it prepares to launch a new product line.
Verb — led by Matt Czarnecki ’18, Bennett Byerley ’19 and André Monteiro ’18 — kicked off its fundraising process last summer while participating in an accelerator program at Highland Capital Partners and working under a fellowship from the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute, now known as Yale’s TSAI Center for Innovative Thinking. After receiving funding from investors like Global Founders Capital, Great Oaks Venture Capital, Vast Ventures and a syndicate of angel investors including Kevin Ryan, the founder of Business Insider, Verb officially closed its fundraising round in mid-February. Verb is expected to announce a new product line at the end of the school year, as well as a new text-to-order platform that will allow consumers to order the bars via text.
“The real bulk of why we [raised the money] is that we are coming out with a new product line of energy products which … comes alongside this text-to-order platform,” Czarnecki told the News last month. “Collectively we are launching the new product line, we’ve actually completely redone all packaging and the face of the brand, and we’re launching those two things next to the text-to-buy platform in a little under 30 days.”
Czarnecki declined to disclose additional details about the new product line, saying the team wishes to keep the information confidential until the end-of-semester launch, which will be accompanied by an event on campus. Byerley said the new text-to-order feature will bring the company “back to our roots when we first started selling Verb bars to Yale students, when they would just text us to order.”
Verb officially launched last April and began planning to scale up the size of their operation during the summer while the team was in Palo Alto working with Highland Capital Partners, Byerley said.
While Verb is currently run out of New Haven, its headquarters will move to Boston in May, after Czarnecki and Monteiro graduate and begin working for the company full time.
While the Verb team originally considered college students its “bread and butter,” Czarnecki said that moving forward the team hopes Verb will outgrow its image as college-centric product. In the past two months, he said, Verb has received orders from all 50 states, a majority of which came from people over 23 years old.
Staff members at TSAI CITY commended the Verb team for its success in obtaining seed funding and growing the company brand.
“Given their record of driving real revenues from sales, their fundraising round shows high investor confidence in the team’s potential to scale operations and expand product lines at the national level and beyond,” said Andrew McLaughlin, executive director of TSAI CITY. “It’s really exciting to see a Yale team execute well on a consumer packaged food business — beyond their sheer success, it’s not the kind of startup most people would associate with Yale students.”
Cassandra Walker Harvey, program director for social entrepreneurship at TSAI CITY, said it has been amazing to watch Verb develop from a set of recipes Czarnecki and his team tested in student kitchens to the growing business it is today.
And TSAI CITY Program Director Kassie Tucker remarked that the TSAI center is thrilled for Verb now that the team’s hard work is beginning to pay off.
Czarnecki said the support and feedback his team has received from the Yale community since the company’s launch has been instrumental to the group’s success.
“The only reason we raised this round of funding and we’re still doing this is that last April, the Yale community just really came to support us in an incredible way,” Czarnecki said. “When we look back at those 30 days, I think it was the most thrilling month of all of our lives and also the most busy month of all of our lives.”
Britton O’Daly | firstname.lastname@example.org