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这家“草根”公司,为何能获得公爵夫人梅根的投资?

这家“草根”公司,为何能获得公爵夫人梅根的投资?

Emma Hinchliffe 2021年04月07日
“我从未想到过、也永远不敢奢望,这样的事情会发生在我们身上。”

对于汉娜·门多萨和她的初创公司Clevr Blends来说,去年12月是一个重要的时刻。

Clevr Blends是一家由四个人组建的公司,生产速溶燕麦奶拿铁饮料。作为联合创始人及首席执行官,门多萨为应对接下来的挑战做好了准备:她升级了厂房设施,扩大了生产规模,聘请了四名员工,并提醒原料供应商,需求量可能会快速增长。

但是,当苏塞克斯公爵夫人梅根成为公司的投资人时,门多萨和她的团队还是有些措手不及。

去年年末,在《财富》杂志报道了公爵夫人梅根对Clevr的投资后,门多萨在一些采访中回应道:“我们知道这将是一个关键的时间节点,但还是没有想到会有这么大的影响。我们处在一个非常强劲的增长轨道上,尤其是对一个自力更生的品牌而言,这确实如烈火烹油一般。”

图片来源:Courtesy of Clevr Blends

Clevr的咖啡、红茶、抹茶和姜黄味速溶拿铁粉的售价为每袋28美元,客户群体也一直都很稳定——面向的是那些希望用含有更多养生食材的饮料代替传统咖啡因的健康饮食爱好者。

而在公爵夫人投资后,该品牌突然开始俘获新的受众,例如那些通过梅根了解该产品的“学校老师、轮班工人和忙碌的妈妈”。此外,该公司之前通常能够提供“第二天迅速发货”的保证,而现在,突然的爆火也让他们不得不临时调整为“预售,一个月内发货”。

这家公司目前的情况相当独特。拥有世界上最具影响力却十分低调的品牌大使之一。梅根不会以传统的方式——诸如在传统媒体上公开为其站台,或者在社交媒体上打广告来支持这家公司。Clevr也从未在其Instagram账号或官方网站上直接提及梅根。

梅根用到的最接近社交媒体营销的方式就是与“脱口秀女王”奥普拉·温弗瑞和内衣品牌Spanx的创始人萨拉·布莱克利分享了Clevr的礼物篮,让粉丝们知道这些拿铁饮料是梅根送的。

但是,仅仅只是拥有梅根这位投资人,就足以改变该公司的发展轨迹——毕竟她是一位只要穿过某件衣服,哪怕只穿过一次,就可以使之卖断货的“带货能手”。

门多萨说:“我们是一家非常草根的公司,没有背景,从零开始。我从未想到过、也永远不敢奢望,这样的事情会发生在我们身上。”

从咖啡吧到快消品

Clevr创立于2017年,最初是一家沿加利福尼亚海岸的流动式咖啡吧。门多萨与另一位联合创始人及首席运营官罗杰·科波拉一起,用流行的健康食材(比如某种据说能够帮助身体保持肌体平衡,并缓解压力的植物性添加物)制作拿铁咖啡。

但是在英国长大,并于18岁时搬到美国加利福尼亚州的门多萨希望,Clevr的饮料可以不仅服务于已经很热衷于他们的健康饮料、并且很容易就可以买到的加利福尼亚人:“如何让那些可能早上只有30秒时间准备早餐的人更容易获取这些健康饮食呢?”门多萨不断追问自己。

门多萨开始在她位于加州圣巴巴拉的自家厨房中研究狮鬃菇(据说有益于记忆力的蘑菇)、南非醉茄(据说能够减轻压力的根茎类植物)和灵芝(据说可以使神经系统平静的蘑菇)等食材。

一年来,她对咖啡、红茶、抹茶、药草和菌菇等配料进行各种排列组合、提纯精炼,直到配制出她在流动咖啡店出售的饮料家庭装。目前在售的配方是2019年推出的版本。

现年29岁的门多萨在圣巴巴拉的有机食品公司Imlak’esh Organics工作时,就对快消品产生了兴趣——该公司销售枸杞子和螺旋藻粉等“超级食品”。事实证明,她的热情和所处的地理位置为她创造了完美的条件。

公爵夫人梅根也一直对健康话题很感兴趣。在与哈里王子结婚并加入英国王室之前,她就经常在自己的博客The Tig上讨论健康话题(该博客目前已经关闭)。

在2020年年初正式退出王室后,哈里王子和生长于洛杉矶的梅根就搬到了南加州的蒙特西托——紧邻着门多萨和Clevr。图片来源:Courtesy of Clevr Blends

当梅根品尝了Clevr的拿铁和姜黄之后,便喜欢上了这些产品。她主动联系了这家公司,想看看自己能否参与进来。

“我们与品牌和产品存在一种真正的联系,最好的关系总是这样开始的。”门多萨说。

门多萨和梅根的发言人都拒绝透露更多关于公爵夫人对该公司投资的具体信息,投资规模仍未公布。

当梅根宣布投资时,强调称其不仅出于对产品的兴趣,更出于对女性创办企业的支持。

数据显示,到2020年,女性创办的企业只获得了2.2%的风险投资,而诸如Clevr此类男女皆有的初创企业则获得了12%的风投资金。

“这笔投资是为了支持一位充满激情的女企业家,打造社区是她创业时的优先考量。”公爵夫人当时在一份声明中表示,“我为汉娜给出的承诺感到自豪:采购符合伦理标准的原料,创造出一种我个人所青睐的、对健康有帮助的产品。我相信她,我也相信她的公司。”

投资者、顾问和导师

门多萨表示,尽管梅根和Clevr的投资细节相对较少,但公爵夫人已经成为了公司一位重要的顾问和导师。

“有公爵夫人作为导师和顾问真的很棒。”门多萨说,“她很聪明,很有激情,还有一颗善良的心。她能够成为顾问,是最不可思议的事情之一。”

对梅根和Clevr来说,这都是新的尝试。这是公爵夫人首次公开的创业投资,也是Clevr首次接受投资者支持。

“现在,终于有第三方投入到我们的业务中,意味着我们可以从那些有丰富经验的人当中,获得更多的外部意见。”门多萨说,“我们能够超越核心团队的力量,把其他人也拉进来,让他们给我们团队提出问题。”

Clevr Blends公司联合创始人及首席执行官汉娜·门多萨。图片来源:Courtesy of Clevr Blends

在梅根的支持下,Clevr正在追求一个更大胆的愿景:在凌晨2点交易包装订单,以制定潜在的零售战略(目前,拿铁只在加州的埃尔文市场直接面向消费者销售)、创造出新口味及实现国际增长。

同样是在这个拐点上,Clevr决定实施一项期盼已久的福利归还计划——将1%的收入捐赠给食品公平事业。

“作为一位年轻的、有点乌托邦风格的创始人,我想完成这些事情。从我们启动的那一刻起,我就希望能够拥有最透明的资源,实施极好的福利归还项目。”门多萨说,“有时候,耐心是必要的。我们终于可以有所作为了。”

由于门多萨在英国长大,她比一些加州的创始人们要更清楚,公爵夫人对公司的支持意味着什么,以及她与其他类型的名人代言有何不同。

梅根的投资得到了英国媒体的广泛报道——《卫报》就发布了一篇颇有些戏谑色彩的文章,质疑“超级拿铁”是不是“加利福尼亚式的胡诌瞎扯”。

门多萨说:“我小时候对加州也有同样的感觉,直到我搬到了这里——所以说,在亲身尝试前,别轻易点评。”

梅根在投资Clevr时暗示,她有兴趣在未来继续支持其他女性创办的企业,并继续在私营经济中开展工作(萨塞克斯公爵夫妇的其他项目包括与Netflix和Spotify的合作)。目前,她对Clevr的兴趣已经为这家公司带来了无限可能。

“我真的很感激,我们能够成为她对女性创业者进行投资的故事中的一部分。”门多萨说。(财富中文网)

编译:杨二一、陈聪聪

对于汉娜·门多萨和她的初创公司Clevr Blends来说,去年12月是一个重要的时刻。

Clevr Blends是一家由四个人组建的公司,生产速溶燕麦奶拿铁饮料。作为联合创始人及首席执行官,门多萨为应对接下来的挑战做好了准备:她升级了厂房设施,扩大了生产规模,聘请了四名员工,并提醒原料供应商,需求量可能会快速增长。

但是,当苏塞克斯公爵夫人梅根成为公司的投资人时,门多萨和她的团队还是有些措手不及。

去年年末,在《财富》杂志报道了公爵夫人梅根对Clevr的投资后,门多萨在一些采访中回应道:“我们知道这将是一个关键的时间节点,但还是没有想到会有这么大的影响。我们处在一个非常强劲的增长轨道上,尤其是对一个自力更生的品牌而言,这确实如烈火烹油一般。”

Clevr的咖啡、红茶、抹茶和姜黄味速溶拿铁粉的售价为每袋28美元,客户群体也一直都很稳定——面向的是那些希望用含有更多养生食材的饮料代替传统咖啡因的健康饮食爱好者。

而在公爵夫人投资后,该品牌突然开始俘获新的受众,例如那些通过梅根了解该产品的“学校老师、轮班工人和忙碌的妈妈”。此外,该公司之前通常能够提供“第二天迅速发货”的保证,而现在,突然的爆火也让他们不得不临时调整为“预售,一个月内发货”。

这家公司目前的情况相当独特。拥有世界上最具影响力却十分低调的品牌大使之一。梅根不会以传统的方式——诸如在传统媒体上公开为其站台,或者在社交媒体上打广告来支持这家公司。Clevr也从未在其Instagram账号或官方网站上直接提及梅根。

梅根用到的最接近社交媒体营销的方式就是与“脱口秀女王”奥普拉·温弗瑞和内衣品牌Spanx的创始人萨拉·布莱克利分享了Clevr的礼物篮,让粉丝们知道这些拿铁饮料是梅根送的。

但是,仅仅只是拥有梅根这位投资人,就足以改变该公司的发展轨迹——毕竟她是一位只要穿过某件衣服,哪怕只穿过一次,就可以使之卖断货的“带货能手”。

门多萨说:“我们是一家非常草根的公司,没有背景,从零开始。我从未想到过、也永远不敢奢望,这样的事情会发生在我们身上。”

从咖啡吧到快消品

Clevr创立于2017年,最初是一家沿加利福尼亚海岸的流动式咖啡吧。门多萨与另一位联合创始人及首席运营官罗杰·科波拉一起,用流行的健康食材(比如某种据说能够帮助身体保持肌体平衡,并缓解压力的植物性添加物)制作拿铁咖啡。

但是在英国长大,并于18岁时搬到美国加利福尼亚州的门多萨希望,Clevr的饮料可以不仅服务于已经很热衷于他们的健康饮料、并且很容易就可以买到的加利福尼亚人:“如何让那些可能早上只有30秒时间准备早餐的人更容易获取这些健康饮食呢?”门多萨不断追问自己。

门多萨开始在她位于加州圣巴巴拉的自家厨房中研究狮鬃菇(据说有益于记忆力的蘑菇)、南非醉茄(据说能够减轻压力的根茎类植物)和灵芝(据说可以使神经系统平静的蘑菇)等食材。

一年来,她对咖啡、红茶、抹茶、药草和菌菇等配料进行各种排列组合、提纯精炼,直到配制出她在流动咖啡店出售的饮料家庭装。目前在售的配方是2019年推出的版本。

现年29岁的门多萨在圣巴巴拉的有机食品公司Imlak’esh Organics工作时,就对快消品产生了兴趣——该公司销售枸杞子和螺旋藻粉等“超级食品”。事实证明,她的热情和所处的地理位置为她创造了完美的条件。

公爵夫人梅根也一直对健康话题很感兴趣。在与哈里王子结婚并加入英国王室之前,她就经常在自己的博客The Tig上讨论健康话题(该博客目前已经关闭)。

当梅根品尝了Clevr的拿铁和姜黄之后,便喜欢上了这些产品。她主动联系了这家公司,想看看自己能否参与进来。

“我们与品牌和产品存在一种真正的联系,最好的关系总是这样开始的。”门多萨说。

门多萨和梅根的发言人都拒绝透露更多关于公爵夫人对该公司投资的具体信息,投资规模仍未公布。

当梅根宣布投资时,强调称其不仅出于对产品的兴趣,更出于对女性创办企业的支持。

数据显示,到2020年,女性创办的企业只获得了2.2%的风险投资,而诸如Clevr此类男女皆有的初创企业则获得了12%的风投资金。

“这笔投资是为了支持一位充满激情的女企业家,打造社区是她创业时的优先考量。”公爵夫人当时在一份声明中表示,“我为汉娜给出的承诺感到自豪:采购符合伦理标准的原料,创造出一种我个人所青睐的、对健康有帮助的产品。我相信她,我也相信她的公司。”

投资者、顾问和导师

门多萨表示,尽管梅根和Clevr的投资细节相对较少,但公爵夫人已经成为了公司一位重要的顾问和导师。

“有公爵夫人作为导师和顾问真的很棒。”门多萨说,“她很聪明,很有激情,还有一颗善良的心。她能够成为顾问,是最不可思议的事情之一。”

对梅根和Clevr来说,这都是新的尝试。这是公爵夫人首次公开的创业投资,也是Clevr首次接受投资者支持。

“现在,终于有第三方投入到我们的业务中,意味着我们可以从那些有丰富经验的人当中,获得更多的外部意见。”门多萨说,“我们能够超越核心团队的力量,把其他人也拉进来,让他们给我们团队提出问题。”

在梅根的支持下,Clevr正在追求一个更大胆的愿景:在凌晨2点交易包装订单,以制定潜在的零售战略(目前,拿铁只在加州的埃尔文市场直接面向消费者销售)、创造出新口味及实现国际增长。

同样是在这个拐点上,Clevr决定实施一项期盼已久的福利归还计划——将1%的收入捐赠给食品公平事业。

“作为一位年轻的、有点乌托邦风格的创始人,我想完成这些事情。从我们启动的那一刻起,我就希望能够拥有最透明的资源,实施极好的福利归还项目。”门多萨说,“有时候,耐心是必要的。我们终于可以有所作为了。”

由于门多萨在英国长大,她比一些加州的创始人们要更清楚,公爵夫人对公司的支持意味着什么,以及她与其他类型的名人代言有何不同。

梅根的投资得到了英国媒体的广泛报道——《卫报》就发布了一篇颇有些戏谑色彩的文章,质疑“超级拿铁”是不是“加利福尼亚式的胡诌瞎扯”。

门多萨说:“我小时候对加州也有同样的感觉,直到我搬到了这里——所以说,在亲身尝试前,别轻易点评。”

梅根在投资Clevr时暗示,她有兴趣在未来继续支持其他女性创办的企业,并继续在私营经济中开展工作(萨塞克斯公爵夫妇的其他项目包括与Netflix和Spotify的合作)。目前,她对Clevr的兴趣已经为这家公司带来了无限可能。

“我真的很感激,我们能够成为她对女性创业者进行投资的故事中的一部分。”门多萨说。(财富中文网)

编译:杨二一、陈聪聪

Hannah Mendoza knew that December would be a big month for her startup. To get ready, the cofounder and CEO of Clevr Blends, a four-person company that makes instant oat-milk lattes, upgraded to a bigger production facility, hired four people to her fulfillment staff, and warned her ingredient suppliers they might be seeing higher demand soon.

But nothing could truly prepare Mendoza and the Clevr team for what it would be like when Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, invested in their company.

"We knew this was going to be a big moment for us, but we didn't predict it was going to be as big as it was," says Mendoza in one of her first interviews since Fortune reported the duchess's investment late last year. "We were on a really strong growth trajectory, especially for a bootstrapped brand, and it really put fuel on the fire."

Clevr, which sells $28 bags of coffee, chai, matcha, and turmeric-flavored powdered instant lattes, had been steadily serving a customer base of wellness fans eager to replace a traditional caffeine boost with adaptogen-infused beverages. After the duchess's investment, the brand suddenly began reaching new audiences, like "schoolteachers, shift workers, and busy moms" who learned about the product via Meghan. The company had to adjust its usually speedy next-day shipping to a temporary monthlong waitlist.

The business is now in a unique position. The company has one of the most powerful—but quiet—brand ambassadors in the world. Meghan isn't supporting the company in a traditional way, by making media appearances or participating in social media advertising; Clevr hasn't once mentioned the duchess directly on its Instagram account or website. (The closest the duchess has come to social media marketing is sharing Clevr gift baskets with Oprah Winfrey and Spanx founder Sara Blakely, who let their own followers know the lattes were from Meghan.) Instead, simply having Meghan—who can sell out an item of clothing just by wearing it once—as an investor is enough to change the company's trajectory.

"We're very grass-roots, where we started from, and I never in a million years would have thought things like this would be happening," says Mendoza.

From coffee bar to CPG

Clevr started as a pop-up coffee bar that traveled up and down the California coast in 2017. With cofounder and COO Roger Coppola, Mendoza served up lattes made with popular wellness ingredients like adaptogens (plant-based additions said to support bodily homeostasis and reduce stress). But Mendoza, who grew up in the U.K. and moved to California when she was 18, wanted to get Clevr's drinks to more than just the Californians already seeking them out, who had an abundance of wellness options at their fingertips. "How do we make this feel more accessible to folks that might only have 30 seconds in the morning?" Mendoza remembers asking.

In her Santa Barbara home kitchen, Mendoza started to fiddle with ingredients like lion's mane (a mushroom said to support memory function); ashwagandha (a root said to reduce stress); and reishi (a mushroom said to calm the nervous system). For a year, she refined the combinations of coffee, chai, matcha, herbs, and mushrooms until she had formulated at-home versions of the drinks she'd been selling from a traveling coffee bar. The current version of the business launched in 2019.

Mendoza, 29, got interested in consumer packaged goods when she worked for Imlak’esh Organics, a Santa Barbara–based company selling "superfoods" like goji berries and spirulina powder. Her passion—and her location—turned out to be the perfect combination. The Duchess of Sussex has long been interested in wellness; before she married Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, and joined the royal family, she often wrote about wellness topics on a now-shuttered blog called The Tig. And after stepping back from their official roles as working members of the royal family in early 2020, Harry and Los Angeles native Meghan moved to Montecito, right next door to Mendoza and Clevr in Southern California.

Somehow, a bag of Clevr's golden latte, or turmeric, flavor got in front of Meghan. She tried the product, loved it, and reached out to the company to see how she could get involved. "There was a genuine connection with the brand and with the product, and that's always how the best relationships start," says Mendoza.

Mendoza and a spokesperson for Meghan both declined to share more information about the duchess's backing of the company; the size of her investment is still undisclosed. When she announced her investment, Meghan emphasized her interest in both the product and in supporting female-founded businesses, which received only 2.2% of venture capital funding in 2020. (Mixed-gender founding teams like Clevr's got 12% of VC dollars.)

"This investment is in support of a passionate female entrepreneur who prioritizes building community alongside her business,” the duchess said in a statement at the time. “I’m proud to invest in Hannah’s commitment to sourcing ethical ingredients and creating a product that I personally love and [that] has a holistic approach to wellness. I believe in her, and I believe in her company.”

Investor, adviser, and mentor

Although the details of Meghan's involvement with Clevr are relatively sparse, Mendoza says that the duchess has become an important adviser and mentor.

"Having the duchess as a mentor and an adviser has been amazing," says Mendoza. "She's so smart, she's so passionate, and she has such a good heart. Having her as an adviser has been one of the most incredible things to come out of all of this."

This is new territory for both Meghan and for Clevr. While this is the duchess's first startup investment to be made public, it was also the first time Clevr took on investor backing of any kind. "Having other folks that are now really invested in what we're doing means that we're just getting so many more outside opinions from people who have really strong experiences," Mendoza says. "We're able to go beyond the echo chamber of our core team and have other folks saying, 'Why are you not doing that?' or 'Let's look at this with this lens.'"

With Meghan's support, Clevr is pursuing a bolder vision, trading packing orders at 2 a.m. for strategizing potential retail launches (right now, the lattes are sold only direct-to-consumer and on shelves at California's Erewhon Market), new flavors, and international growth. At this inflection point, too, the brand decided to implement a long-desired giveback program, donating 1% of revenue to food-justice causes. "As a young and somewhat utopian founder, I wanted to do all these things. From the very moment we launched, I wanted to have the most transparent sourcing, have an incredible giveback program," Mendoza says. "Sometimes, patience is necessary. And we were finally at a point where it could start to make a difference."

Since she grew up in the U.K., Mendoza had a better idea than some California founders might of what it would mean for the duchess to support her company—and how it would differ from any other kind of celebrity endorsement. Meghan's investment received wide coverage in the U.K. press, including a tongue-in-cheek piece in the Guardian asking if the "superlattes" were "a lot of Californian nonsense." Says Mendoza, "I felt the same way about California when I was growing up, and then I ended up moving here—so don't knock it 'til you try it."

With her investment in Clevr, Meghan has hinted that she's interested in backing other female-founded businesses in the future as she continues to build her work in the private sector (the Sussexes' other ventures include deals with Netflix and Spotify). For now, her interest in Clevr has exploded the possibilities available to this company.

"I'm just really grateful," Mendoza says, "to be part of this narrative of savvy female investors investing in female founders."

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