Axios Pro Exclusive Content

Exclusive: Rivalz raises $6.1M seed for AI-designed snacks

headshot
Feb 26, 2024
an illustration of a lab beaker being stirred with a kitchen fork

Illustration: Tiffany Herring/Axios

Rivalz, a food tech startup, closed a $6.1 million seed to accelerate research and development for functional snacks, CEO Peter Barrick tells Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: Investors have a strong appetite for healthy-for-you snacks despite a dip in food tech investment last year.

Zoom in: The round was led by the March Group.

  • Rivalz has raised $8.4 million to date.

How it works: Sonoma, California-based Rivalz uses AI to develop extrusion techniques that will create nutrient-dense but also tasty snacks.

  • Rivalz' snacks, primarily made from pea and brown rice protein, have high protein, high fiber and low carbohydrates and include essential vitamins.
  • The company has subject matter experts in its R&D department to help develop into categories such as sweets and breakfast snacks, Barrick says.

Zoom out: According to Barrick, many brands that describe themselves as functional have the same nutritional profile as legacy brands, which he says are full of empty calories.

Catch up quick: Rivalz has been building a roster of former snack execs to fill its C-suite.

  • It recently tapped former Kind exec Erica Pattni as CMO. Rivalz also appointed Adam MacLeod — previously in finance roles at Miyoko's and Every Man Jack — as VP of finance.

What's next: Rivalz hopes to expand its snacks nationally and internationally, Barrick says.

  • It plans to be in traditional and natural grocery stores, mass and club, as well as in schools.
  • He also hopes Rivalz's snacks will be found in vending machines.

The intrigue: The company hopes to close a lead investor for its Series A by Q4 2025, Barrick says.

  • With that raise, it would target a food category that's very popular, he says, declining to share details.
Go deeper