Energy drink A Shoc raises $29M from investors including Keurig Dr Pepper

Dive Brief:

  • A Shoc, an energy drink that’s distributed by beverage giant Keurig Dr Pepper, has raised $29 million in a Series B funding round, according to Forbes.
  • Participants in the latest round included Keurig Dr Pepper, baseball players Aaron Judge and Freddie Freeman, and Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Strahan. A Shoc is sold in an estimated 80,000 retail locations across the U.S., including 7-Eleven, CVS, Walmart and Target, Forbes said.
  • As consumers move away from drinks loaded with sugar and ingredients on the label they don’t recognize — a trend that has only accelerated during the pandemic — companies such as A Shoc that offer better-for-you products have been among the biggest beneficiaries.

Dive Insight:

The U.S. energy drink sector is one of the strongest performers in the nonalcoholic space. Retail sales totaled $10.43 billion in 2015 and are projected to nearly double to $19.15 billion in 2025, according to Mintel data.

A Shoc was founded in 2019 by Lance Collins, the founder of brands such as Fuze, Nos Energy and Core. Keurig Dr Pepper immediately signed on to handle national sales and distribution for A Shoc, a valuable boost at the time for the upstart brand. Keurig Dr Pepper also was one of its early investors during its first funding round.

The rapid growth of the energy drink space undoubtedly caught Keurig Dr Pepper’s attention and accelerated its ties with A Shoc. The partnership also gives it a beverage to participate in the sector and compete against Coca-Cola, which purchased a 16.7% stake in Monster in 2015 and agreed to distribute its energy drinks in the U.S., and PepsiCo’s Rockstar. PepsiCo snapped up Rockstar for nearly $4 billion in 2020.

A Shoc has two drinks that prioritize better-for-you, all-natural and functional ingredients. Its namesake natural energy blend has plant-based caffeine to increase endurance, ocean mineral electrolytes to improve hydration, nine essential amino acids to boost performance and BCAAs for muscle recovery. A Shoc Accelerator, meanwhile, not only has the caffeine and electrolytes but also contains plant-based thermogenics to accelerate metabolism.

A Shoc CEO Paul Nadel told Forbes the company has a so-called “path to ownership deal” with Keurig Dr Pepper, which gives the company the option to fully acquire it. 

“I think this was done in anticipation of at some point (KDP) acquiring us,” Nadel said. “There’s nothing certain to that, but KDP does not have a large energy brand. Coke has Monster, Pepsi has Rockstar.”

Collins is no stranger to building a brand and then selling it to a big-name company. Coca-Cola bought Fuze in 2009, and Keurig Dr Pepper snapped up premium water brand Core for $525 million in 2018. Keurig Dr Pepper has worked closely with Collins for years, given their earlier connection with Core. Considering Collins’ ability to create successful launches, it’s no wonder the beverage giant would want to have the option of buying his latest creation if it catches on with consumers.

Keurig Dr Pepper has not been shy about buying brands it has taken an initial stake in or worked closely with for several years. In addition to Core, its predecessor purchased enhanced water maker Bai Brands for $1.7 billion in 2017, after acting as its distributor for four years prior.

A Shoc is competing against larger and more established players in Celsius, Monster Energy’s Reign and PepsiCo’s Rockstar — with some of the brands adding functional attributions and incorporating thermogenics into their drinks to increase the drinker’s metabolism and burn more fat and calories during exercise.

With hundreds of millions of dollars on the line, the competition has even led to a lawsuit. Last April, Celsius filed a lawsuit against Keurig Dr Pepper, accusing its partner brand A Shoc of imitation. At the time, Just Drinks reported that Celsius alleged its energy drinks were intentionally copied by A Shoc’s Accelerator beverage, confusing consumers. It said the brand’s claims of being able to boost metabolism copied Celsius but did so without any scientific evidence, according to the publication.