High-profile patrons

Austin startup reaches for the stars with $35 million in celebrity funding

Austin startup reaches for the stars with $35M in celebrity funding

Venus Williams
Tennis superstar Venus Williams is among the investors in the Austin startup. Venus Williams/Instagram

An Austin startup that sells healthy, sustainable packaged foods and other wellness-oriented goods has attracted some of the biggest names in entertainment, sports, and business as investors.

The startup, HumanCo, announced September 22 that it picked up $35 million in what’s known as bridge funding. The bridge loan is supposed to eventually convert into equity.

The bridge funding will help HumanCo acquire Against the Grain, a Vermont-based maker of grain-free pizza, bread, bagels, brownie mixes, and cake mixes.

Among the heavyweights backing HumanCo are:

  • Actress Scarlett Johansson.
  • Musician Shawn Mendes.
  • Musician Nick Jonas and his wife, actress Priyanka Chopra.
  • Tennis star Venus Williams.
  • Former tennis pro Andy Roddick and his wife, actress and model Brooklyn Decker.
  • Model and actress Cindy Crawford and her husband, entertainment entrepreneur Rande Gerber.
  • Actor Edward Norton.
  • Austin investor Brian Sheth.
  • Austin venture capitalist Joe Lonsdale.
  • Walter Robb, former co-CEO of Austin-based Whole Foods.
  • Indra Nooyi, former CEO of PepsiCo.

Earlier this year, Johansson became creative director of Snow Days, a HumanCo brand that produces organic, grain-free pizza bites.

“Eating the foods we love and love to share with our families doesn’t have to make us feel bad physically or contribute to food guilt,” Johansson said in April. “I am so excited to partner with HumanCo and Snow Days to help bring this evolutionary comfort food to the table. HumanCo’s commitment to wholesome deliciousness is one that I am proud to get behind and reflects my own interest in comprehensive well-being.”

In August, Williams joined HumanCo’s board of advisers.

“I believe that investing in one’s health is the most important thing we can do as individuals,” Williams said. “As a professional athlete and a businesswoman, fueling my body with the highest-quality products is pivotal for success.”

CEO Jason Karp, a former hedge fund manager, co-founded HumanCo in 2019 with the company’s president, longtime investment professional Ross Berman.

“We’re trying to create a one-stop shop for people looking for healthier options,” Karp tells Forbes.