Fruitbelt (Original Convertible Note Raise)
Developing novel fruit sodas based on the traditions of the Fruitbelt
Fruitbelt (Original Convertible Note Raise) is not currently fundraising.
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Convertible Note Basics
A convertible note is an investment structure that allows a company to take on funding in exchange for equity at a later date. At the time of the investment, the funds are considered debt, but at some date in the future, those funds (+ any accrued interest) convert to equity. A discount is typically included in a convertible note that provides investors equity at a cheaper price than what equity is being offered at, at the time of conversion. This discount compensates the investors for investing at an earlier date. If the notes have not been converted to equity by the maturity date (often 12 to 24 months), the debt plus interest is due and payable to investors.
A convertible note can be a good tool for a company to raise funds to help bridge to a larger equity offering to occur at a later date. For companies that are early with respect to customer and revenue traction it can be difficult to set the valuation of the business. A convertible note does not require a valuation to be set, offering a simpler transaction structure to close a smaller amount of funding. The company should then be able to more quickly close and deploy the capital to make progress with the business.
FRUITBELT LLC is a Sawyer, Michigan company in the heart of the Fruitbelt: a region in western Michigan whose unique geographic and climactic features make it ideal for fruit cultivation. We intend to develop, market and distribute a line of novel tart-sweet sparkling sodas made with fresh–pressed apple juice and other varietal fruits, sweetened with honey and spiked with an extract of native botanicals. We have completed our initial product development work and trial runs, sourced production and supply partners, and are preparing to complete our first production run in mid to late summer. Our first two flavors are Sour Cherry Zing (spiked with ginger juice) and Tart Apple Dream (with lime and a hint of caraway). Each flavor contains approximately 25% juice. Money raised here will help us complete our first production run.
Our soda is built on heirloom apples and other botanicals native to the Fruitbelt. To bring out the intricacies of each flavor, we have chosen to create an extract the old-fashioned way: distilling over 25 varieties of heirloom apples sourced locally, layered with a range of native orchard botanicals possessing aromatic, healthful and symbolic properties. Each ingredient has significance: propolis, a precious and fragrant element belonging to the hive, is a shout-out to the bees; aronia (chokeberry), a dark berry native to the Midwest, is enjoying a resurgence of popularity due to its hardiness and myriad health benefits; while chicory and dandelion (also native to our region) offer health benefits, lend complexity to the taste and aroma, and round out the flavor of the drink. While most soda companies use flavors, we will never use them in order to enhance the actual essence of the juices themselves. Fruitbelt sodas let the tartness shine through as nature intended.
We will develop a family of flavors combining tart native fruits such as currants, cranberries and blackberries, with apple. In response to an emerging concern over sugar consumption, we've built our drink to be in the mid-calorie range (aided by the use of an intensive sweetener -- monk fruit juice -- in addition to honey), and chosen a smaller format (10 oz) bottle with resealable cap.
Our product requires a specific manufacturing process so as to preserve authentic flavor, avoid fermentation and introduce carbonation. In Maine, we have found an apple orchard familiar with cutting edge pasteurization techniques which also possesses the necessary equipment and certification to press the apples and bottle the soda on site. The trial run in June produced approximately 1,000 bottles of soda which we can use to introduce the drink to potential investors and retail customers.
We'll begin by selling locally, both direct to the end customer and wholesale to local restaurants, breweries, wineries and specialty groceries, and expand regionally. Our aim is to grow demand, increase production and evolve into more sophisticated distribution channels. Initially, we will self-distribute to retail outlets. In addition to conventional advertising, we'll invent seasonal traditions that evoke an appreciation of the place, its seasons, history and shared cultural memory. We'll partner with chefs/bartenders to pair our drinks with slow food and drink, and tell our story through social media, radio, flashmob picnics, Fruitbelt Socials and other happenings.
We'd like our soda not only to be a delicious and innovative drink, but to inspire people to know and care about heirloom apples: to appreciate their unique historical character and range of flavor and their importance to biodiversity, sustainability and fruit cultivation, and commit to taking new actions for the sake of a viable future.
Provide us with some background on your products and services.
A lower calorie natural fruit soda that is flavored with a proprietary extract of native botanicals and in a 10 oz bottle. No preservatives, artificial flavorings or colorants. We will be selling by the case and provide 4 pack holders for retailers. Our suggested retail price for our premium product is $3.50.
What is your product development timeline?
Our co-packer will be completing a trial run on our first 2 flavors in September 2015. We expect our first production run to occur in October 2015. We plan to add additional flavors in 2016 and beyond.
What is your competitive advantage?
A lower calorie natural fruit soda that is flavored with a proprietary extract of native botanicals. No preservatives, artificial flavorings or colorants.
|Location Type||Co Working Space|
|Comments||Sharing space in a commercially zoned house.|
Michele Gazzolo is a natural merchant who grew up working at her family's pharmaceutical distribution company in Chicago, among boxes, jars, forklifts, shelves and telephones. A former retail store owner, she is skilled in marketing/PR and excels at anticipating trends, envisioning possibility, inventing and orchestrating games. Most recently she was instrumental in capital formation, team formation and strategy for a clean tech software startup now entering commercialization. When not slicing apples or dicing prose, she enjoys walking on moors and merrymaking with friends. BA, Williams; MA, U of Chicago and UIC.
Beth Denton, food-grower and hands-on educator, delights in exploring obscure fruit varieties and conducting culinary and botanical experiments in kitchen and garden. In two years she has taught herself mixology, chemistry, how to use a carbonation stone to make tiny bubbles, and how to build poetic, aromatic
and delectable sodas out of regional ingredients. Beth's imagination, tenacity and indefatigable curiosity make work seem like the best kind of adventure. When not making soda, Beth enjoys learning about business and flying kites.
Will Noll has finance and supply chain experience across a variety of industries, including consumer packaged goods. He excels at setting up systems to orchestrate production, contain costs and coordinate action. BA, Michigan State, MBA Carnegie Mellon.
Our sodas in their very own bottles
September 11, 2015
Tastings and other Events
September 2, 2015
This weekend we will host three soda tastings: Friday Sept. 4 at Cafe Gulistan at 13581 Red Arrow Highway in
Harbert, MI from 5:30-8, Saturday Sept. 5 from 12-4 east of the old Sawyer Fire Station in Sawyer, MI, and cocktails
Sunday Sept. 6 from 5-7 at Catherine Doll Clothing, 5844 Sawyer Road in Sawyer, MI. If you are anywhere nearby,
we hope you'll join us!
Our drinks will be also be featured in a signature cocktail at the annual Chikaming Open Lands Annual Barn Benefit on
Saturday, Sept. 19, and in an upcoming edition of Edible Michiana.
Pictures from our recent test run in Maine!!!
June 12, 2015
We just returned from a trip to an orchard in Maine to make our first batch of soda!
For anyone near Sawyer, MI, once the cases land here we'd be delighted to meet
and share a taste...
Login to our Localstake page to see the rest of the pictures.
Business status: No current fundraise
You can express interest to notify the business of your interest in a future fundraise.