Agritech startup Back to the Roots raises $4 million in funding

Back to the Roots, a startup that sells ready-to-grow mushroom kits and other products, has received $4 million in funding to expand its distribution nationwide.

The investment was led by Acre Ventures and Scotts Miracle-Gro— the largest lawn and garden company in the world with participation from others.

The new funding round will help the startup bring its mushroom kits and other ready-to-grow products (including tomato kits and aquaponic fish tanks) to a greater number of retailers.

The startup was already partnering with retailers like Target and Costco, but the money will allow it to sell products in more of their stores. This funding follows a $10 million investment made in 2016.

The startup is targeting millennial parents, who tend to seek out organic food and want know how their food is made. Its ready-to-grow products are compact enough to be used indoors, which makes them accessible to people with little or no space for gardening.

While Back to the Roots’ revenue comes largely from retail stores, Velez wants to educate children about the process of making food. Many children believe food is made in grocery stores or trucks; Velez recalled speaking with a boy who did not recognize a pear because it was not cut up in squares — the only form he had ever seen it in.

Back to the Roots has also signed a licensing agreement with Nature’s Path, allowing North America’s largest organic cereal brand to manufacture and distribute the startup’s organic cereal all around the US.

For the past year and a half, more than 1 million New York public school students have had access to Back to the Roots cereal in cafeterias. The cereals contain a minimal amount of sugar have just three to four ingredients. Velez said this is the first organic cereal to be offered in a school district.

In addition to New York, the organic cereal is already available schools in San Jose, California; Boulder, Colorado; and Austin, Texas. Back to the Roots is also in talks with the Urban School Food Alliance, which supplies food to the 10 largest school districts in the US, about a partnership.

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