Functional Beverage Startup Odyssey Raises $6M to Accelerate Energy Drink Growth | Tech Crunch

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Odyssey, a maker of mushroom-based functional energy drinks, has raised another $6 million in equity investment to bring it to $14 million in total funding since launching its first drink two years ago.

Odyssey Products harnesses the health benefits of lion's mane and cordyceps mushrooms to produce an energy-boosting drink with 2,750 milligrams of mushrooms to provide cognitive clarity and focus.

According to a 2023 National Institutes of Health pilot study, lion's mane has been shown to positively affect cognitive function and mood, especially in young adults.

Scott Frohman, founder and CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based Odyssey, first learned about the benefits of some mushrooms from a friend who made mushroom powder to mix into drinks.

“I started adding it to my coffee and I realized everything was clearer,” he told TechCrunch. “The best part is that when I get to work, I realize I don't need a second cup of coffee. With that, I felt pretty high and was able to go about my work.

However, Frohman didn't exactly like how the powder affected the drink's taste and texture and preferred energy drink delivery, so he began working on Odyssey in 2021. Today, the company has 11 SKUs, including flavors like Passion Fruit Orange. /Mango, Dragon Fruit Lemonade and Blackberry Lemon Twist.

The energy in the drinks comes from a combination of L-theanine, ginseng and green tea caffeine. There's less added sugar to help reduce the “jitters” and sugar crashes associated with traditional energy drinks, Frohman said. For those looking for even more of a caffeine boost, the company recently introduced the Odyssey 222 line with 222 milligrams of caffeine along with mushrooms.

Over 5,000 stores including Publix, CVS, GNC, Erewhon, 7-Eleven, Thrive Market, Wegmans and Bristol Farms carry Odyssey products. Frohman didn't provide growth metrics, but the company says sales are increasing in terms of three to five cans for every week the SKU is sold.

Growth in the functional beverage industry has accelerated in recent years as consumers increasingly look for healthier foods. The global functional soda category is expected to be valued at $208 billion by 2027. This has inspired new brands to emerge and motivated some venture capitalists to invest in this sector.

Meanwhile, brands like healthy soda companies Poppy and Olipop have raked in capital in 2022, while The Rail Company has raised $6.7 million for its functional ready-to-drink tea in early 2023.

Odyssey also joins a long list of companies leveraging mushrooms and the mushroom-derived mycelium, making everything from alternative proteins to leather-like materials to construction materials. Companies like Infinite Roots are also growing mushrooms for commercial purposes.

“Because the timing isn't right, mycelium can win over consumers with taste, nutritional, functional, scalable and impact-related benefits,” PeakBridge CTO Maya Shushan Orgad said in a review of mycelium trends.

Meanwhile, Odyssey's new funding round includes strategic investor Richard Laver from Rocket Beverage Group, who joins an existing group of shareholders who will contribute 50% of the total raised.

Frohman plans to allocate the capital toward inventory to continue distribution and hiring in the sales and marketing areas.

“We don't see this as just a product, but a whole movement,” says Frohman.

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