Daniel Lubetzky's Equilibra sets its sights on a new category
The New York-headquartered private equity firm - which lists brands like Krave meat snacks, Non-GMO Project Verified seaweed gimMe Snacks and better-for-you kiddie snacks Before Brands in its portfolio - will become Ellenos’ second private equity partner. Monogram Capital Partners joined Ellenos in 2018.
Mexico City-born Lubetzky's best-known venture is forging a new healthy snacking category with the introduction of his fruit and nut bars in 2004.
Since then, he has built Kind Snacks into one of America's fastest-growing snack companies, with a number of not-for-profit spinoffs, including the Kind Foundation (working to create more empathetic communities) and Empatico (a $20m initiative that connects educators and students worldwide).
He is also the founder of PeaceWorks (fostering cooperative ventures among neighbours in conflict regions), and a director of the Anti-Defamation League's Inaugural Board.
Lubetzky has been selected as one of the 100 Global Leaders of Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum, presented with the Hispanic Heritage Award for Entrepreneurship and honoured with a Horatio Alger Award for accomplishments in spite of adversity, among others.
His investment in Ellenos will not only propel its market expansion, but will enable the Greek yoghurt brand to leverage Lubetzky's first-hand expertise in building a successful company from the ground-up.
Integrity, respect, craft
“Beyond falling in love with Ellenos’ delicious Greek yogurt, what drew me to the brand was its integrity in every respect,” said Lubetzky.
“Not only is Ellenos obsessive about the craft of yoghurt-making and sourcing the highest quality ingredients, but its leadership and team exemplify my belief that how we build a brand is as important as what we are building.
“The sense of community that Ellenos has created in the Pacific Northwest is palpable and I am honoured to support the brand’s founding team throughout its next chapter.”
Closely held family secret
Ellenos was borne in 2013 when the Klein and Apostolopoulos families joined forces to open their first fresh scooped yoghurt bar in Seattle.
Since then, the brand has expanded distribution into natural and speciality grocery stores, where Ellenos has become one of the fastest selling yoghurts in the category in the US. Packaged product distribution has jumped from nine to 29 states in the past year alone.
According to the company, the traditional Greek recipe – handed down the Apostolopoulos family for generations – is carefully hand strained and blended over a proprietary five-day process, and uses a closely held family secret blend of cultures.
The yoghurt is made with milk sourced directly from a single local farmer, along with exotic pure fruit purees in seasonal offerings like Orange Turmeric and Pumpkin Pie, as well as classics like Marionberry and Lemon Curd.
“While we have a ton of momentum right now, to have someone like Daniel as a partner – a fellow founder who has achieved aspirational success as a disruptor in the food space – gives us this incredible opportunity to leverage his knowledge to help us take Ellenos to the masses and scale this community that we’ve built in the Northwest across the entire country,” said Con Apostolopoulos.