Iris Nova, the company behind Dirty Lemon water, announced today that it has received a $15 million seed round led by soft drink giant Coca-Cola, as well as a host of celebrities including Kate Hudson, Sophia Bush, Alex Rodriguez and Scooter Braun (Justin Bieber’s manager).
Dirty Lemon made a splash (sorry) in the industry with its SMS-based direct sales model that allows customers to order the bougie water via text message. According to the funding press announcement, Iris Nova has sold over 2 million bottles of Dirty Lemon since 2015 and processed 90% of orders entirely via text message.
In addition to slinging Dirty Lemon drinks with unconventional flavors like Tumeric, Charcoal, and Collagen (though no more CBD), Iris Nova also launched Drug Store, a cashierless retail store in New York city where people pay via text message on the honor system.
Sales of traditional sodas are declining, and this investment caps off a year that saw Coke diversifying beyond its carbonated cola roots. Earlier this week, Coca-Cola led a $10 million series A round in restaurant POS software company Omnivore. In August, it spent $5.1 billion to acquire Costa Coffee, one of Europe’s biggest coffee chains. And back in September it was even rumored that Coca-Cola was in talks with Canadian marijuana producer Aurora Cannabis to create beverages.
So Coke’s investment in Iris Nova makes sense. It broadens the portfolio of brands Coke is involved with, and now an old dog like Coke can learn a bunch of new tricks from an upstart like Iris Nova. Not only from a tech standpoint, but also in creating direct relationships with consumers, new sales channels and branding to maybe make grabbing a Coke and a smile hip again.