Serial snack entrepreneur with the Midas touch turns his attention on Junkless

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Impact Capital aims to make the better-for-you chewy granola bar become the go-to choice in the healthy snacks category. Pic: Junkless Foods
Impact Capital aims to make the better-for-you chewy granola bar become the go-to choice in the healthy snacks category. Pic: Junkless Foods

Related tags Junkless Foods Impact Capital granola bars better for you healthy snacking BODYARMOR Vitaminwater KIND Pirate Brands

Impact Capital - the private equity group of Mike Repole, best known for cofounding Vitaminwater and BodyArmor SuperDrink, which sold to Coca-Cola for $4.1bn and $5.6bn, respectively - has acquired a majority stake in the better-for-you chewy granola bar producer Junkless Foods.

Repole is no stranger to the snack food business.

In 1999, he joined J. Darius Bikoff to cofound Energy Brands (commonly known as Glaceau), which pioneered the enhanced water beverage category with Vitaminwater​ and Smartwater.

Although consumer approval was slow at first, the company brought in almost $1m in sales revenue in its launch year, rising to $1bn by 2007. The entrepreneurs sold Glaceau to Coca-Cola for $4.1bn in the same year.

Having triggered an unquenchable thirst for building energy drink brands loved by athletes and the sports community, Repole cofounded BodyArmor​ in 2011 to take on a market dominated by brands like Powerade and Gatorade. But he had a plan to drive awareness and attracted investors like tennis star Naomi Osaka and the late Kobe Bryant, who purportedly relied on the drink while rehabbing from a torn Achilles tendon. Bryant had invested $5m for 10% of the company and became the company's creative director.

Repole sold 15% of the BodyArmor to Coca-Cola in 2018, and finally the whole company in 2021 for a whopping $5.6bn.

In 2009, Repole bought a majority stake in Pirate Brands (healthy snacks for kids) and became its chairman. Under his guidance, the company achieved a 300% growth in less than five years, having reinvented its sales, partnership and innovation strategies to become a household name. In 2013, Pirate Brands sold for $195m to B&G Foods.

Repole was also an investor in Kind Snacks prior to its sale to Mars in 2020.

Mike Repole
Mike Repole

The perfect match

The serial entrepreneur has now snapped up a majority stake in US-based Junkless Foods - with a vision to make the chewy granola bar the next billion-dollar brand on the healthy snacks platform.

Founded by Ernie Pang and Larry Beyer, Junkless snack bars sport a clean label, made with simple ingredients and nothing artificial - “a healthier alternative amidst the market’s sugar-loaded, over-processed snack bars,”​ it claims.

“We have poured our heart and soul into getting Junkless to where it is today, but we knew we needed something more to take us to the next level,”​ said Pang.

“We could not have asked for better partners in Mike and the Impact Team, who share our passion for Junkless, see the incredible potential of our brand and know how to get us there.”

Added Repole, “We saw a huge opportunity for Junkless to become a major brand.

“Everyone is looking for better-for-you versions of their favourite snacks - and that’s exactly what Junkless provides. The passion of Ernie, Larry and the entire Junkless team combined with our experience growing small brands into scalable mainstream brands is a perfect match.”

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

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