Photo: Kencko.

Kencko, a nutrition startup making direct-to-consumer packets of powdered fruits and vegetabes, announced today that it has raised $3.4 million in seed funding. The round was led by NextView Ventures, Kairos Ventures, Techstars, LocalGlobe, Max Ventures, and more.

My colleague Jenn Marston wrote about New York- and Lisbon-based Kencko last year:

Kencko’s current product is simply fruits and vegetables in powdered form, which consumers then mix with water and drink. It’s not a meal replacement like Soylent, but rather, an alternative to whole fruits and veggies that manages to keep nutritional elements intact.

So basically it’s powdered produce that, when mixed with water or milk, makes something between a cold-pressed juice and a smoothie.

Currently Kencko makes its packets in six blended flavors, like so-called “purples” (which includes blackberry, blueberry, raspberry, cranberry, banana, strawberry and dates) and “greens” (which has spinach, kale, kiwi, pineapple, apple, banana and ginger). By flash-freezing and slow drying its produce, Kencko can purportedly retain all of the vitamins and fibers of its ingredients. Each 20-gram packet contains two of the recommended five-a-day servings of fruits and vegetables and has a shelf life of nine months.

Kencko CEO and co-founder Tomas Froes told me over the phone that they plan to use the funding to become fully plant-based. That includes the material used for making the packets themselves. Froes said that they want to exchange the plastic they currently use for a compostable alternative. They’ll also use the new capital to add more flavors to their lineup.

Kencko is currently only available via the company’s website in packages of 3, 20, and 60, which will cost you $16, $60, and $130, respectively. Each shipment comes with a reusable plastic water bottle.

That shakes out to $2-$5 per packet, which isn’t super cheap. However, it starts to look prettyyyy reasonable when compared to pricey cold-pressed juices and smoothies, which can set you back at least $10 per serving.

Kencko also has the added appeal of convenience. Its packets are shipped directly to consumers and can hang out in a cabinet or desk drawer for months until you need them. “We’re not replacing cold-pressed juice or smoothies,” Froes elaborated. “We’re adding another layer of convenience to them at a better price point.”

For now, Froes said they’re happy sticking with the D2C model. “Consumers are getting a better experience through us,” he explained. But I actually think the grocery store would be an opportune sales channel. Imagine checking out at the supermarket and, alongside the Snicker’s bars and Doublemint gum, there’s a packet of freeze-dried fruits and vegetables ready to be turned into an afternoon pick-me-up. I’d definitely be tempted to grab one, especially if I realized I’d been lax about eating my veggies that day.

Kencko seems to be unique in terms of its dehydrated produce packets. But it won’t necessarily be for long. With its new funding, Kencko would be smart to continue diversifying its offerings and retail options to keep ahead of the pack.

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  1. Except for the fees the shipping company charges on delivery outside the EU, it’s pretty convenient as something to have in the office as a daily fruit dose at work.

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