The well known actor, Leonardo DiCaprio and Strand Equity Partners, a Chicago-based equity firm, has joined forces to make an unknown investment amount in the Green Park Brands Inc., the manufacturer of Hippeas brand chickpea puff snacks. The Founder and CEO of Green Park Brands, Livio Bisterzo, would not reveal how much was actually invested. However, he did mention company earnings of $2.5 million, including some money coming from “angel investors”.
The Hippeas brand started selling in 2016 with several retailers, and had generated $2.5 million in wholesale revenue.
With the launch of two other consumer brands, “Kyoku” a men’s grooming line, and “Little Miracles”, a maker of tea drinks, Bisterzo was estimating the company to make $11 million this year.
The Hippeas brand is available at many U.S. market chains, including Albertsons and Vons, also at Starbucks, and soon to be in Krogers Markets and Target, as well as in the United Kingdom, where it holds a business office.
Livio Bisterzo, 36 years old, grew up in London, while still living there he started work on the brand Hippeas. He was interested in the idea of creating a brand to appeal to the new and increasing vegan market. So he thought about working with beans and legumes, which also do great at replenishing the soil with much needed nitrogen.
His company also donates 2 cents per bag sold to the the group “Farm Africa”, which aid African farmers. He gives credit to his products recent success to its messages that resonate with consumers as well as its nutritional value hitting the right notes.
Until now, Pepsico Incs Cheetos brand and Pirate Brands “Pirates Booty” were the major players in the puffed snack brands. Bisterzo wanted in on the business as well with his puffed chickpeas snack. Bisterzo targets younger consumers, who are willing to try new, alternative ingredients in a snack food.
Bisterzo moved to Los Angeles to begin experimenting with new ingredients. The Starbucks chain has been a big supporter of his Hippeas brand and is a large piece of their distribution. Starbucks is dedicated to proving great tasting food that meets dietary requirements, and they believe the Hippeas brand meets both.
The managing partner for Strand in Los Angeles, Seth Rodsky, was advised by many friends and colleagues to check out the Hippeas Brand, in which he liked it and reached out to them about eight months ago.
Bisterzo was very pleased when Strand and DiCaprio approached him to invest in his company, as he believes investors are an important part of a business.