Despite being the fastest-growing segment of US entrepreneurs, BIPOC women-owned startups aren’t getting their fair share of investment dollars. Inc reported that only 2.7 percent of all venture funding goes to women CEOs, and it’s even rarer for female founders to win investment at both early-stage and seed-stage funding rounds. And when the funding comes, only 25% of what they’re asking for is actually allocated.
This is why Agua Bonita’s recent accomplishment is so unique.
In just under a year after its launch, the Afro-Latina-owned beverage company recently announced its oversubscribed $1M raise with key participants including Convivialite Ventures, Cedar Capital, Supply Change Capital, and prominent celebrity backing. This puts founders Erin PonTell and Kayla Castañeda in an elite group becoming only the 59th Latina-founded company to raise over $1 million in venture capital and Castañeda the 2nd Black founder in the food & beverage CPG category to raise more than $1 million.
“Agua Bonita is redefining the beverage category with the introduction of a healthy, no-added-sugar agua fresca, a drink that is a staple of the Latino community and one I certainly have retained an affinity for in adulthood. With a modern better-for-the-planet twist, they source upcycled fruits, bringing us what we know in a formulation that is better-for-us and dramatically reduces the environmental footprint of canned beverages. Shayna and I are thrilled to be investing in this talented team, and to support the growth of their brand and business with our operations and supply chain expertise.” says Noramay Cadena, Managing Partner of Supply Change Capital.
The company identifies itself as a leader in the ready-to-drink agua fresca category, the first of its kind. Agua Bonita’s no sugar added still beverages use imperfect or excess produce as a natural sweetener.
“We’re thrilled to be in a position to bring a beautiful, traditional part of our culture to the masses in a modern way. In a category that rarely sees innovation at scale, we are prioritizing health & wellness and encouraging consumer curiosity to bring people into our Bonita familia.” Says Co-founder Kayla Castañeda.
To date, the brand has solely relied on word of mouth and organic marketing and has made its mark on the industry by dominating several pitch competitions. Agua Bonita was recently selected as BEVNET’s Best New Beverage of the Year 2021 winner and was recognized for its ingenuity in filling the white space in the market for a natural, better-for-you beverage. The founders say they are are excited about tapping into the $21 billion marketplace for Hispanic packaged foods and look forward to watching the emergence of the agua fresca category.