San Francisco-based Bandar Foods has secured its first external funding led by , a Singapore-based institutional investment firm, and an individual investor Karl Ulrich, vice dean of Innovation at Wharton Business School.
The capital raised by the company is believed to be under $1 million, but the exact amount could not be ascertained. “The capital raised through convertible debt investment will be used to continue the company's meteoric progress in retail and foodservice sales,” said the firm.
Bandar (which means monkey in Hindi) Foods offers Indian flavours for everyday American use. The company launched its first two condiments in May 2013 and, within the first year on shelves, has grown its reach to over 1,000 stores across the US, Canada and UAE. The company’s products are now sold in chains such as Whole Foods, Safeway and Fresh Market in the US. Bandar recently expanded its condiment line and launched its first flavours of poppadum lentil crisps. Its other products include Spicy Mango Chilli sauce and Tango Tamarind Dipping sauce.
The idea to create a crossover Indian-American food brand was incubated while the founders, Lalit Kalani and Dan Garblik, were MBA students at Wharton Business School.
“This is a unique investment by us and we got to know of the Bandar Foods two years back. We have maintained a relationship with the company since then and invested recently. Going forward, the company will also be expanding into Asia, including Japan,” said Sameer Narula, managing director, August Capital Partners.
He added, "We believe that Daniel and Lalit are building a global food business with an Indian soul and a Silicon Valley DNA.”
Garblik said, "Sameer (Narula) immediately saw what we were trying to do. Many food products around India and Asia are not packaged or marketed in a way that makes their use-case obvious to American eaters. Bandar can be a vehicle to bring the world's food cultures together on the same table."
Kalani stated, "We met with Sameer and Professor Ulrich multiple times over the past two years as we refined our ideas. They were our first calls when we decided to raise money. We have huge things planned and will use this investment to help us scale and penetrate new sectors."
Bandar has a number of projects planned for 2014, including new condiment and crisp flavours, growth into US foodservice, and more brand extensions. Kalani said, "Our goal for the immediate future is to use this investment to grow the Bandar brand as widely as possible. We want people to think of our monkey brand when they crave new flavours with their favourite meals."
Another player in this segment is Sri Racha. Narula added that such companies show how innovative startups in the US are trying to tap Indian manufacturing to drive growth.
August Capital Partners is a Singapore-based early stage investment company that co-invests with the government of Singapore's Spring SEEDS Capital. It also independently invests in US and other international companies that have the potential to disrupt their industries globally. Its partners have invested in the past in companies like Home Union Services (US), AvaCorp (US), Etable services (India), RaK (UK).