Small Potatoes Urban Delivery (SPUD), Online Natural Foods Grocer, Receives Funding

SPUD Renewal2, a Vancouver, British Columbia-based social venture fund, announced earlier this week that it has made an investment in Small Potatoes Urban Delivery (SPUD), described as "North America’s largest internet grocer of organic and natural foods."  The amount of the investment was not disclosed.  In addition, ss a part of a this round of financing, SPUD has brought on new management including Peter Van Stolk, former CEO and Founder of Jones Soda Company.

Through the SPUD website (US site, Canada site) consumers can order and schedule free home delivery of groceries, including organic and locally-sourced fruits and vegetables.  SPUD currently operates in seven markets in the United States and Canada - Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. The company was founded by David Van Seters in 1998 and now has approximately 230 staff and 19,000 customers.  The following video provides an overview of how SPUD works:

Renewal2 Social Venture Fund Announces Two Investments in Organic Sector

Renewal2, a Vancouver-based social venture capital fund investing in sustainable businesses, recently announced two new investments in the environmental and social change sectors – Blue Horizon, a leading supplier of sustainable seafood products, and Rustic Crust, the largest producer of organic pizza products in the U.S.

"Renewal2's focus is to fund sectors with huge growth potential and fewer sources of capital which are critical to a sustainable economy, such as organic foods and products, green consumer products and green building," said Renewal2 President, Paul Richardson. "96% of all venture capital investments annually are directed to tech, bio tech and clean tech. The organic food and green products sectors enjoy a strong growth profile, but attract few professional investors."

"Blue Horizon and Rustic Crust already have successful track records" added Mr. Richardson. "Blue Horizon’s revenues were up 88% from 2008 and Rustic Crust recently announced that they will be the exclusive licensee for American Flatbread, a well known organic pizza franchise. Organic foods are the largest growing market in the food industry, and these two investments mark our commitment to the expansion of this sector."

Renewal2's portfolio includes investments in Horizon Distributors, Western Canada’s largest natural foods distributor, and Seventh Generation, North America’s leading producer of recycled, non-toxic and eco-friendly household cleaning supplies. "These initial investments are well run, poised for long term growth and will generate tremendous environmental and social returns," said Renewal2 Chairman, Joel Solomon.

The Renewal2 fund currently has more than $20 million committed and over 40 investors from Canada, the U.S. and Europe including six charitable foundations. The final close of the fund will take place on May 31, 2010. "Renewal2 was one of a select group of funds to close rounds of financing in the first half of 2009, a difficult year in the financial markets," said Mr. Richardson. "Our final close will allow us to raise more much needed capital for our sectors and to strengthen our ability to support our portfolio companies and at a value that should be rewarding to Renewal2 investors." 

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Morgan Solar Receives $4.7 Million in Funding

Morgan Solar

Morgan Solar Inc. a Toronto-based solar energy start-up, announced earlier this month that it received $4.7 Million in funding from Iberdrola Group SA, Nypro Inc, and Turnstone Capital Management LLC.

Morgan Solar has developed the Sun Simba HCPV (pictured below), a low-cost High Concentrated Photovoltaic (HCPV) system designed for utility scale and large distributed generation applications.  The company has spent the past two years designing, testing, and refining its technology and believes it can have a major impact in the solar energy industry. The company is currently working on a pilot manufacturing facility to build the Sun Simba HCPV with a goal of commercial release in late 2010.

Morgan Solar Sun Simba HCPV

A syndicate led by Turnstone Capital Management LLC and including Inversiones Financieras Perseo SL (the venture initiative of Iberdrola Group) and New Ventures Group LLC (the venture investment subsidiary of Nypro Inc.) will provide Morgan Solar with capital to move from research and development to manufacturing. The $4.7 Million announced represents the completed first tranche of the company's series A investment round; an additional investment tranche is expected to close soon.

Iberdrola Group, one of the world's largest electrical utilities, invested $2.5 million. Pedro Velasco, Director of Non-Energy Businesses at Iberdrola Group said, “Iberdrola’s venture initiative, Inversiones Financieras Perseo SL, is specifically dedicated to investing in early stage, paradigm changing renewable energy technologies that appear to have a very high success potential. We have reviewed hundreds of investment opportunities over the last few years and only invested in Morgan Solar and four others. Their CPV technology is revolutionary, highly efficient and simple to manufacture at very low costs. We see a winner in the making and we took a position as soon as we saw it.”

Nypro Inc, invested $1 million and will be a key partner for Morgan Solar by providing the capacity to quickly scale up manufacturing of the Sun Simba HCPV. Michael Fallon, VP/GM of New Ventures Group at Nypro Inc said, “Nypro is constantly looking for innovations that have the potential to dramatically change an industry, while presenting synergies with our core strengths in injection molding and contract manufacturing around the world. We wanted to enter the solar energy market and we were looking for a next generation technology when we found Morgan Solar.”

Turnstone Capital Management LLC led the formation of the investment syndicate. Marc La Magna, Managing Director at Turnstone Capital commented, “We’re very pleased to have found and invested in Morgan Solar, and believe the company’s technology is a fundamental leap forward in exploiting solar energy effectively. Our views of Morgan Solar’s business model and approach to manufacturing highly efficient solar solutions at competitive cost were quickly validated by our co-investors Iberdrola and Nypro. We look forward to supporting Morgan Solar’s corporate development as it strives to make a significant impact on the PV market in the years to come.”

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