General Mills’ 301 Inc partners with CircleUp to launch investment fund for food startups

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US-based food company General Mills’ new venture capital arm 301 Inc., has partnered with CircleUp marketplace to launch an investment fund to aid food startup businesses.

CircleUp is an online platform which helps connect consumers and retail brand entrepreneurs to certified investors. With its team of experienced private equity personnel, CircleUp identifies brands with a promising future during their early lifecycle stages and posts their profiles on its site to notify investors in order for them to research and understand the investment potential of the brands.

General Mills claims to be the first Fortune 500 company to have introduced an investment fund via CircleUp online platform.

301 Inc. vice president and general manager John Haugen said: “We are very pleased to join CircleUp as an active, hands-on investor. As we look to partner with and foster emerging food brands, the CircleUp marketplace will enable us to quickly connect with mission-driven brands actively seeking early-stage funding.”

With the new fund, 301 Inc will have a strategic funnel for sourcing the most promising consumer food brands. Apart from capital for brand development, 301 Inc will also provide the portfolio companies access to General Mills’ expertise across supply chain, research and development, finance and marketing to augment their businesses.

CircleUp has aided more than 120 companies to raise more than $135m. It has also helped growth of emerging brands by facilitating retailer and distribution partnerships.

CircleUp CEO and co-founder Ryan Caldbeck said: “General Mills has been a valued partner since CircleUp’s inception, and we’re excited to deepen our relationship through this investment fund — which marks the first time a major consumer packaged goods company has used an online marketplace to find consumer brands.

“From the beginning, we’ve been committed to helping our brands access capital and resources to help them scale, and now they will benefit from more access to General Mills.”

General Mills launched 301 Inc., last month to focus on building partnerships with emerging food brands to come up with groundbreaking innovation in food sector. The company has derived the name of the new unit from the address of the original Pillsbury A Mill in Minneapolis. The company seeks businesses that have showed promise in the marketplace with product offerings and strong brand potential.

301 Inc., was initially a business development team created by General Mills in 2012, which worked on developing and launching new business models for growth of the company. Within the company boundaries, the team worked as entrepreneurs innovating products such as Progresso and Nature Valley Bistro Cups, the first products made with a single cup coffee brewer, Pillsbury Pancake Batter, that can be put in the refrigeration section in grocery store, and nibblr which is a subscription-based snack delivery service.