Two years after Lemon Perfect was spotted in Beyoncé’s limousine, the superstar has become his patron.

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Lemon Perfect Founder and CEO Yanni Hufnagel didn’t know it yet, but his hydrating lemon water brand was set to go viral in 2020, thanks to the surprise appearance of a bottle of Dragon Fruit Mango in the door of Beyoncé Knowles-Carter’s limousine.

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“She posted a photo with him in her limousine and all of a sudden my phone blew up,” Hafnagel said. “We learned that she was a true fan of the brand. A year later, one of our investors was at her house, saw her stash in the fridge, and helped us build a bridge with her. I can’t even dream of someone with her influence being a fan of the brand.”

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The company announced Thursday that Knowles-Carter is a $31 million Series A sponsor along with Beechwood Capital, Goat Rodeo Capital, Melitas Ventures, NNS Capital and Trousdale Ventures.

“I don’t usually like drinks without added sugar, but Lemon Perfect is delicious,” Knowles-Carter said in a statement. “It was an easy decision to invest in something that not only tastes great and is healthy, but most importantly, allows you to choose a healthier lifestyle that is accessible to everyone.”

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Hafnagel founded the company in Atlanta in 2017 after a career as a college basketball coach at the University of Nevada Reno. After an unexpected meeting with a shop owner who dreamed of becoming a trainer, the shop owner sent Hufnagel a draft of a book he was writing about the keto diet that included recipes for lemon water.

After seeing his basketball players drinking Bai in the locker room, Hafnagel thought about taking lemon water and giving it the same base as Bai and going after multi-billion dollar improved water category which, in his opinion, is ripe for destruction. This market is expected to grow at almost 9% per year over the next five years.

Today, Lemon Perfect is in direct competition with such drinks as Bai, Vitamin Water and Hint. It comes in flavors including Beyonce’s favorite Dragon Fruit Mango, Just Lemon, Blueberry Acai and Peach Raspberry. The drinks are five calories, contain potassium and vitamin C, but contain no sugar or artificial flavors or sweeteners.

“There is nothing on the market today with our taste and health profile,” Hufnagel added. “And our price is such that the consumer, anywhere and at any time, can become a buyer. Very rarely you can have a total addressable market like we do.”

The Series A announced today is a combination of a $16.5 million seed round and a $14 million renewal, Hafnagel said. The new investment gives Lemon Perfect $42.2 million in total funding to date and a total valuation of over $100 million.

The company previously raised funding two years ago, but the driving force behind this new funding was simple: growth. Hufnagel wants to expand the brand to over 40,000 points of sale by the end of 2022, which will require a significant local sales team. It currently has 25,000 distribution points including its website, Amazon, and nationwide retailers such as Publix, Fred Meyer and Mariano’s. Lemon Perfect is also set to launch at Costco this summer.

In 2021, Lemon Perfect quadrupled its revenue to $21 million, and Hafnagel estimates the company will have $60 million in retail sales in 2022, up from $25 million last year. He also expects the company’s revenue to more than double this year. Along with this growth, the headcount has increased to 70 compared to 38 a year ago.

“Drinks is an expensive game, and access to capital is the only way to promote a fast-growing brand,” Hafnagel said. “We want to be a breakout player in a big category and we want to add fuel to the fire. We felt that we were able to achieve excellent execution, but we still have room for growth and we want to create a big margin story for tomorrow.”




Credit: techcrunch.com /

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