Innocent Drinks founders invest in business set up by ex-Yahoo executive

The founders of the Innocent Drinks brand are investing in kids company Toucan Box through a new investment firm, Jam Jar.

Richard Reed, Adam Balon and Jon Wright, who all set up Innocent Drinks, are coming together to back Toucan Box through an undisclosed six-figure round.

Set up by ex-yahoo executive Virginie Charles-Dear in 2012, Toucan Box works by, every month, delivering to the door of customers, ideas, instructions, materials and tools for ‘hands-on’ projects for parents and children.

Each box delivered contains materials for at least four projects and is available in themes including outer space, super heroes and the weather.

Commenting on the new investment, the founders of Innocent Drinks and new investment house Jam Jar, comments, ‘We invest where there is an exceptional team, idea and plan; Toucan Box has all three.

‘Parents love it for being a simple yet innovative way to entertain and educate their kids. Kids cannot wait until their next box arrives. We’re hugely excited about the good this business can do and how big it can become.’

Speaking to GrowthBusiness, Charles-Dear says that she was inspired to come up with the business through trying to find ways to entertain her two children who are under five.

She adds, ‘Unless you’re a teacher or are particularly creative it can sometimes be difficult to come up with fresh ideas all the time, let alone have the right materials to hand! So I started Toucan Box as a way to help other parents and grandparents spend quality time with their children and grandchildren.’

Charles-Dear has revealed to GrowthBusiness that she approached various contacts from her previous life at Yahoo!, and started to talk to angel investors and VCs about Toucan Box.

She says, ‘I didn’t know the Innocent Drinks founders directly, they were introduced to me by another business angel. The investment I received comes from various angels and funds including the Innocent guys.

‘What got the ball rolling was securing investment from a couple of successful internet entrepreneurs early on, which then helped open doors.’

The money secured will now be used to help scale the business, move to bigger facilities and invest in marketing. The company is also looking to launch in other countries.

Healthy drinks manufacturer Innocent Drinks was set up by Reed, Balon and Wright fresh out of university in 1999 with £500. The trio then secured a £250,000 investment from American businessman Maurice Pinto, to help them grow the business.

More on Innocent Drinks:

Over the next decade the three entrepreneurs gradually sold the business to The Coca-Cola Company. In 2009 it sold a stake of 10-20 per cent for £30 million, and then followed this up in 2010 by allowing Coca-Cola to up its stake to 58 per cent for £65 million and then to 90 per cent in 2013.

Hunter Ruthven

Bernard Williamson

Hunter was the Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2012 to 2014, before moving on to Caspian Media Ltd to be Editor of Real Business.

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