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With CircleUp Investment, Good Crisp To Increase U.S. Market Focus

Carol Ortenberg

After two years on American shelves, snack brand The Good Crisp Company is planning to increase its stateside presence. The brand of chips, formally known as the ABC North America LLC, announced today that it has closed a round of funding by CircleUp Growth Partners, the fund managed by technology company CircleUp. The company has also adjusted its operating structure to focus further on the American market.

Terms of the minority investment were not disclosed, but the fund typically writes checks ranging from $1 to $5 million the investment group told NOSH.

The Good Crisp, which is packaged in cardboard canisters like leading brand Pringles, originally was formed as a subsidiary of South Australia-based ABC Sales & Marketing, which bought the rights to sell Mamee Snacks, Malaysia’s largest snack brand, in Australia over 30 years ago. In 2015 ABC Sales and Marketing launched the line of chips under the Mamee brand in the U.S. However, after failing to gain traction, the company rebranded its American line to The Good Crisp in 2016 and the brand is now sold in retailers including Whole Foods Market, Wegmans, Albertsons-Safeway and Sprouts.

Now, just under two years later, the company has realigned its business to focus even further on its stateside efforts.

Matthew Parry, formerly the COO of ABC North America LLC,  assumed the role of CEO of the The Good Crisp Company at the end of 2018 and will relocate to Boulder to run the business. CircleUp’s investment will be in The Good Crisp Company, which ABC Sales and Marketing will then be licensed to distribute in Australia and New Zealand.

As a result of its non-native roots, Parry told NOSH that the company sought an investor that could provide strategic assistance in navigating the U.S. marketplace. The capital, he added, was necessary to help the company’s rapid growth, particularly into conventional retailers. In one of its largest retailer additions, the brand will launch in 4,000 Walmart locations nationwide next month.

“We’ve started to go broader than we initially envisioned and we’ve become a national brand very, very quickly,” Parry said. “We realized that we needed to put the accelerator on here rather then having the a limiting factor be financing and cash flow… We didn’t want to be the ones to put the brakes on because we didn’t have the financing to drive the natural velocity of the company.”

The capital will go towards three areas: building brand awareness, hiring new sales and logistics team members and operating expenses. The company’s chips are still produced, and will continue to be produced, in Malaysia. Marketing, Parry said, will be particularly important as the company grows in conventional retailers — where it will directly compete with Pringles. “That’s a lot of customers that we haven’t spoken to before.”

Over 2019 the company plans to focus making on increasing distribution, but will launch two new flavors of chips. It has no plans to expand into other snack formats, such as what ABC Sales and Marketing sells in Australia, in the near future.

CircleUp’s fund differentiates itself by using a proprietary algorithm known as Helio to help identify successful brands. While Helio played a role in the deal, Pat Robinson, a partner at CircleUp Growth Partners, told NOSH there were a number of factors that contributed to the fund’s interest.

“The Good Crisp Company stood out for its strong growth in the chip category,” Robinson said. “Helio evaluates brands on a number of factors, but The Good Crisp Company’s fast-growing distribution — specifically in natural channels — was a key signal that put the company on our radar.”

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