Portfolio Company Briefs
The Flex Fund invests in growth companies that strengthen existing natural resource markets across the value chain, link existing enterprises to new markets and distributions channels, and /or build new markets that contribute to environmental, social and economic health of Vermont and the region - now and for future generations. Take a look at who we’ve invested in to date.
Company Name: Liz Lovely, Inc.
Location: Waitsfield, Vermont
Sector: Value-Added Agriculture / Food Manufacturing
Date of Investment: February 2013
Liz Lovely, Inc. was founded by high school sweethearts, Liz and Dan Holtz in 2003. The company develops, manufactures, and distributes Gluten Free & Vegan Cookies that can now be found at nearly 2000 grocery retailers throughout the US and growing. Liz Lovely makes only 100% All Natural, Non-GMO products that are allergen friendly and a safe/healthy alternative to mainstream, commercially produced cookies. In this way they contribute to a healthier lifestyle both in Vermont and around the US.
With the growth in the Gluten Free foods market, Liz Lovely has seen considerable growth in their revenues, and needed flexible financing to accelerate their sales velocity, and increase production in their existing space at the Mad River Food Hub in Waitsfield, where they’ve served as the anchor tenant for a number of years. They approached equity investors with an offering, but were unable to align with prospective investors on valuation or company mission. As a company whose mission is “real food, good jobs and environmentally sustainable business practices,” they liked idea of working with the Flex Fund and our royalty financing program – as it preserves their equity and decision making abilities. The Flex Fund, in turn, saw great market opportunity, a strong management team, with good advisory capacity and fit with our mission. The company has a strong consumer following, passionate owner / entrepreneurs, a track record in growing good paying jobs, and through their continued support and mentorship of other emerging value-added ag businesses in the Mad River Food Hub, Liz Lovely is helping to advance the Flex Fund’s food systems goal of conserving and protecting agriculturally productive land in Vermont and the region.
"We began selling to large supermarket chains, and started to need more working capital to fuel the rapid growth in our business. Liz and I were reluctant to take on new equity partners, and we found that working with the Flex Fund was the perfect alternative. They have a vested interest in our success, they are aligned with our goals, and we were able to retain our existing equity. The Flex Fund is a unique and valuable opportunity for Vermont entrepreneurs!" – Dan Holtz, Maverick CEO and Liz Holtz, President
Company Name: Farmers to You LLC
Location: Berlin, Vermont
Sector: Value-Added Agriculture
Date of Investment: November 2012
Farmers To You is a partnership of Vermont area farmers and Boston area families committed to rebuilding a trustworthy and sustainable regional food system. Through weekly deliveries of fresh vegetables, fruit, dairy, meat, grains and more, Farmers To You offers a bridge between dedicated farmers and the needs of busy families. Safe, nutrient dense food is packed personally to order and delivered year round to the convenience of neighborhoods at home, school or work. FTY handles marketing, aggregation, and customer service so that farmers can focus on what they do best—growing quality food using sustainable, organic methods. FTY arranges pick-up, delivery and payment so that families can focus on what they need most— time to share healthy, local, quality food with each other.
The Flex Fund’s investment was used to support FTY's expansion and relocation to a new, larger hub facility, the purchase of additional equipment, addition of key staff, and the streamlining of their website and ordering system. Additionally, with the help of the Flex Fund, FTY was able to leverage our funding to secure additional royalty financing from key Boston-area investors who bring not only their financial support, but access to their networks and connections as well.
“We are very happy to have found a partner in the VSJF Flexible Capital Fund. Seeking outside funding was a delicate process as our business model doesn’t fit well with a traditional debt or equity funding. The Flex Fund's unique structure works for growing food businesses like ours that are concerned with the triple bottom line of profits, people, and the planet. Partnering with the Flex Fund allows us to build our infrastructure at a key time. With these investments, we will better serve our partners, Vermont farmers and families in the Boston area, and continue to strengthen our local food system. By becoming a funder, the Flex Fund is showing their commitment to supporting new and innovative models that place Vermont at the forefront of a national push toward local, sustainable, and trustworthy food." – Gregory Georgaklis, Founder and Owner
Company Name: Aegis Wind LLC
Location: Waitsfield, Vermont
Sector: Renewable Energy / Wind
Date of Investment: March 2012
Aegis Wind a leading community scale wind turbine integrator has installed fourteen community scale wind turbine projects throughout the eastern US. Aegis offers a full range of services consisting of industry-leading system design, project financing options, procurement and logistics, on-time and on-budget installation, multi-year warranty support, ongoing maintenance, and client technical training. Aegis is headquartered in Waitsfield, Vermont.
The Flex Fund's investment was used to spin off the wind division of what is now Real Goods Inc. (a Colorado based solar installation company) into a new LLC - keeping 5 full time jobs in Vermont and ensuring the company can stay and grow here in the green mountain state. Aegis Wind is a mission-based company that is dedicated to providing wind sourced clean energy solutions to empower their customers - farms, municipalities, schools, businesses and other organizations - to enact positive change in the world. The Aegis team has built a reputation over the last few years as a knowledgeable and trustworthy partner in providing community scale wind turbine solutions to combat rising energy prices and reduce reliance on fossil fuel.
“We did a tremendous amount of due diligence around capitalization of Aegis and when we came around to the VSJF Flexible Capital Fund it was clear that they were by far the best choice. The value comes from not only the perspective of retaining company ownership and control, but also in having a professional resource to help guide us through some of the challenges of growing our business. I was especially impressed with the integrity that is clearly anchored in the Flex Fund mission and in the people at the Flex Fund. There is no question that partnering with Flex Fund allowed us to confidently move forward." — Nils Behn, CEO, Aegis Wind LLC
Company Name: VSC Holdings, Inc.
Location: Hinesburg, Vermont
Sector: Value-Added Agriculture / Specialty Foods
Date of Investment: November 2011
Vermont Smoke and Cure is a producer of high-quality premium and natural smoked meats and fresh sausages that it sells primarily in the health food, grocery, convenience store and food service channels. The Company is the only Vermont-based or branded smoker of meats that sells into wholesale channels on a widespread basis inside or outside of Vermont. It currently is one of only two federally licensed, USDA-inspected smokehouses in Vermont and thus is a crucial link in the Vermont agricultural infrastructure.
The Flex Fund invested in VSC as part of an overall financing package that helped them expand into the former Saputo cheese manufacturing plant in Hinesburg. VSC’s new USDA-inspected facility gives VSC much greater production capacity and efficiency, enabling VSC to bring more products to market made from Vermont-grown meats, and increase the breadth and volume of processing services it carries out for Vermont small-scale commercial and backyard farmers.
“The Flex Fund was critical in helping us leverage other money and round out our financing package. It not only provides us with flexible capital as we grow, it also gives us access to a wealth of knowledge through its peer mentoring network. This will help us continue our mission of ‘keeping Vermont farmers smoking.’” — Chris Bailey, CEO