Clio Snacks, a chocolate-covered Greek yogurt bar company founded by Ukrainian immigrant Sergey Konchakovskiy in 2015, has secured a $8 million series C funding led by its existing investor Alliance Consumers Growth (ACG) with additional participation by AF Ventures, formerly AccelFoods.
Konchakovskiy was originally inspired by leftover strained yogurt wrapped in a cheesecloth in his fridge, and wanted to create a product that plays both in the indulgent snacking and yogurt categories — an idea that later turned into a refrigerated bar with functional benefits.
Clio has gone through various formulation stages before its major rebrand in 2018, and the company’s current president Heather Cox stressed how Konchakovskiy had to source different machinery and put together a unique manufacturing line after a lot of trial and error to create a “cheesecake texture” for their bars.
“He is one of the most inventive people I’ve ever met, and there’s not a problem that’s too big for him,” Cox recently told me. “People try Clio because of its functional attributes [such as protein and probiotics], but come back again and again because it tastes so delicious.”
The company currently offers a line of seven different varieties, including peanut butter, strawberry, and honey, and each serving contains around eight grams of protein and less than 170 calories.
Cox said: “Clio has disrupted the refrigerated bar and yogurt categories by bringing in new consumers for an indulgent snack or dessert occasion,” and with such a strong value proposition, the brand has experienced 100% year-over-year growth in sales.
Additionally, Clio saw more than 57% growth in distribution over the past year through retail partnerships with Whole Foods, Target, and Wegmans.
Independent leader in refrigerated snacking
Clio Snacks’ rapid growth in consumer demand and velocity has ultimately pushed the company to raise another round of funding, according to Cox.
“All the data we’ve seen from our consumers has been incredible,” she said. “Both ACG and AF are incredible partners… as they are constantly making introduction to new distribution partners, great candidates for open hire, and other CEOs who may face similar business challenges.”
AF Ventures particularly expects to help Clio Snacks grow to become the independent leader in quality, refrigerated snacking in the future.
The investment firm’s president and managing partner, Jordan Gaspar, said in a statement: “Offering families a better-for-you, yet indulgent, convenient snacking solution in the now-present grab-and-stay consumption environment, our network of partners are uniquely qualified to support the expansion of Clio’s cold-chain footprint.”
Meanwhile, ACG hopes to apply their learnings from working with brands, such as BarkTHINS, EVOL, and Krave Jerky, to Clio, and support the company with its product innovation and expansion.
“Our initial investment in Clio in 2017 helped the company build out its manufacturing capabilities and expand its capacity to support strong demand among retailers and consumers,” Julian Steinberg, ACG’s co-founder and managing partner, told me.
Resilient and healthy business amid pandemic
While the pandemic is pushing an increasing amount of CPG brands to turn to online and plant-based options to grow their revenues, it hasn’t significantly affected Clio Snacks’ growth strategy.
“Our business has been healthy,” Cox said. “We have innovation baked into our DNA, so we are always looking for newer opportunities. There are a lot of exciting things happening in plant-based, that’s certainly on our radar for the future.”
Steinberg also notes how the consumer packaged foods space is generally resilient through economic cycles and public health crisis like COVID-19.
“Clio falls squarely in the camp of food brands that consumers prefer in good times and bad,” he said. “Our thesis around better-for-you snacking has proven to be correct so far, and the COVID environment has only exacerbated consumers’ desire for high-quality, nutrient-rich and convenient indulgence at an accessible price point.”
Commenting on Clio Snacks’ long-term exit plan, Steinberg expects the company to eventually follow a similar path as many of ACG’s previous investments in the food and beverage sector.
He said: “We think that Clio fits well within many of the large CPG’s strategies around fresh snacking and the brand has already garnered interest from a number of potential acquirers.”