Portfolio Company Spotlight: Kitu Life

The Origination of Kitu Life

Kitu Life, Inc. was founded by three brothers: Jordan, Jake, and Jim DeCicco. The youngest brother, a student-athlete looking for a pick-me-up after basketball practice, was disenchanted by the unhealthy selection of energy drinks and bottled coffees on campus – all loaded with calories and artificial ingredients. So, he set out to develop his own recipe out of his dorm room, and came up with an on-the-go drink made up of coffee, protein and healthy fats. It was not hard to convince his two brothers – who were also college athletes – of the clear gap in the market. He and the middle brother first joined forces to create a business plan, and soon after they pitched the idea to their oldest brother, who had already started his career in finance. After hearing his brothers were dropping out of school to start a coffee company, the oldest knew he couldn’t let his brothers go this route alone. So he left his job and together the three founded Kitu Super Coffee in the fall of 2015.

Funding the Growth

Kitu Life quickly tapped into unmet demand for healthy caffeinated drinks. Given the rapid growth of the company, the brothers needed to run larger orders with their manufacturer to meet retailer demand. This meant that a lot of their capital was tied up in inventory. Kitu began working with CircleUp Credit Advisors (CCA) in December of 2017 with a loan backed by their accounts receivable and inventory, providing the company with the capital needed to fuel its continued growth. They were no longer stuck in a working capital cash crunch.

As Kitu has grown, CircleUp has grown right along with them.

“Our growth has been so unpredictable that traditional equity rounds were tough to structure. CircleUp has evolved with us, scaling up our borrowing base as our sales and operations grew. Fast and effective, CircleUp ensures we have the funding we need so we can focus on growth.” – Jim DeCicco, Oldest Brother/CEO.

The Future for Kitu Life

Amid rising demand for better-for-you food & beverage brands, the brothers are finding further opportunities to expand their product line. In November of 2019, Kitu announced additional products: Super Cold Brew and Triple Shot Espresso to go along with their already existing Super Coffee, Super Creamer, and Super Espresso SKUs. The new products will include L-Theanine sourced from green tea rather than protein or MCT oil. They aim to offer a product with zero calories for their consumer base, which typically adheres to strict diets. Finally, the company is launching Super Coffee in Keurig K-Cup format in flavors such as Dark Roast, Hazelnut, Mocha, and Vanilla.

DeCicco says, “As a young, nimble company, we’re not built for traditional bank financing; CircleUp Credit Advisors empowers us to grow at our own pace without bureaucratic barriers.”

Kitu has seen astonishing growth of 400% in 2019 and they expect to hit 100 employees in 2020. The company has dominated the East Coast market and will begin to expand with a national rollout in Kroger and targeted expansion into Southern California.

With more growth comes the need for a partner willing to work with you and to roll with whatever punches the CPG industry might throw.

Any testimonials contained herein may not be representative of the experience of others and are no guarantee of future performance or success. No individuals were compensated in exchange for their testimonials.

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