Bevi with a Bang!

You may have seen a lot of press on our portfolio company Bevi recently. That is because they just closed a $6.5M funding round led by Horizons Ventures, Li Ka Shing’s personal venture investment firm. They were picked up with coverage on VentureBeat, Xconomy, BostInno, Boston Business Journal, and others.

In case you aren’t familiar with what they do, Bevi has invented and operates proprietary internet-connected hydration machines that dispense customized drinks at the office. These machines allow the user to mix and match flavors and water carbonation levels. Their proprietary technology allows seamless inventory management from their home base and enables them to track key data including; usage, machine performance, inventory levels, and user preferences and trends over time. Target customers include medium to large offices and they compare favorably (both from a product and price standpoint) with the traditional water cooler.

They don’t just intend to compete with the water cooler, but they hope to replace it altogether. It will happen faster than you think, mark my words. Frankly, I don’t think it’s a very fair fight. While being priced similarly to the water cooler, the internet enabled capabilities of the Bevi machine allow seamless and remote monitoring of the units while providing endless customization opportunities. As a result of this automation, office managers have less to think about, as Bevi knows when exactly to service and repair their machines, and users can come to any Bevi machine across the world and expect to receive a consistent, quality, and healthy experience time-after-time. If you’re curious what the machines look like, head over to their website which contains a video on the cover page – www.bevi.co.

I am personally very proud of what Sean, Frank, and Eliza (and the rest of the talented team) were able to accomplish in such a short period of time. It has been just over a year since we completed our investment in the company and I can tell you that they’ve made some great strides in building a top quality platform that is reliable, appealing, and pretty much rocks.

I have a feeling this company will be around in the public mind and attention for a very long time to come. They are everything that is right about IoT startups, and bring great disruption to a stale beverage industry which has had very little innovation in the last 30 or 40 years. Their attention to their customers’ needs is unparalleled and their ability to provide a customized experience is what eventually leads to extreme loyalty from their users.

Finally, I would just like to add how much I’ve personally enjoyed working with and learning from the Bevi team. For a period of about 6 months between Q4 – 2014 and Q2 – 2015 I served as a Board Observer for the company. That responsibility entailed many meetings with Sean (the CEO) that ran very late into the night, as we discussed various strategic issues affecting the company. I can’t say that I’ve met many other people who are as thoughtful, balanced, and creative as Sean. He embodies all the traits we seek when evaluating founders of startups we want to invest in.

Looking forward for what the future has planned for Bevi and very excited about continuing our partnership with the team.

Our first investment – Hydration Labs, Inc.

It’s been a while since I’ve shared any updates and I know that it’s been due for some time. I’ll try to be more consistent going forward, so here goes…

Back in May 2014, I attended the TechStars demo day in Boston. There were some great companies there, but one which really happened to catch my eye. That startup was Hydration Labs, Inc., and the CEO was Sean Grundy, together with founders Frank Lee and Eliza Becton.

Sean and team are working on disrupting beverage delivery for offices (a $3B+ annual market) by introducing a specialized filtration machine called the Bevi.

The Bevi creates drinks which are customizable, taste great, are environmentally responsible, and actually save customers a TON of money – all at the point-of-sale. Their early beta testers include some of the largest corporate offices in the Boston region, and the inbound demand and feedback has thus far been INCREDIBLE.

I can’t get into too many details at this stage, but they have some really grand plans. Their next product iteration should really set them apart. One of the factors that really got us excited about the opportunity is the fact that none of the founders are industry insiders. We like that they bring a fresh perspective and have a strong focus on what users require and demand. This is a stale industry led by incumbents who have had up till now little incentive to be creative or actually listen to what customers want.

The team’s focus on user experience and design is truly inspiring and evident when viewing a machine for the first time. We also liked that Sean and Frank are fellow alumni of MIT Sloan. Given our team’s background at TechU, we feel a strong sense of responsibility to give back, and we can’t think of a better way than with partnering with MIT founded companies.

After several meetings my partners and I decided to pull the trigger back in late October.

Thank you to Sean and team for bringing us as your partners, and we are looking forward to joining you on this exciting journey.