Typical packaging materials can last for thousands of years. The food inside these packages may only last for about 48 hours. Packaging company TemperPack, which focuses on products that need to stay cold while shipping, wants to better match those lifecycles– and it’s a sustainable mission investors are starting to get behind.
Richmond, Va.-based TemperPack announced earlier this month that it closed a series A round of $10 million. The capital will go toward “expanding its operations and further commercializing innovative, new products.” SJF Ventures led the round, while other investors included Interplay Ventures, Third Prime Capital, Dolik Ventures, and Robert Beckler, the former president of packaging at WestRock. Beckler will join the Board as Executive Chairman. Cody Nystrom, managing director of SJF Ventures, will also have a seat on the board.
Temperpack, which reportedly grew its sales more than 500 percent in 2016, creates its products out of recycled materials like fiber made from coffee bags and cotton. Customers add this flexible insulation “blanket” as a liner to a box, along with gel ice packs, to keep products cold for up to 60 hours. TemperPack currently works with 40 customers, many of which are in the meal-kit and grocery e-commerce sectors. Since 2015, Temperpack said it’s recycled more than 5 million pounds of plant fiber.
Nystrom told NOSH that SJF found TemperPack appealing not only for its value proposition to the customers in today’s budding e-commerce world, but also for its sustainability measures and reasonable cost that the brands shipping direct-to-consumer are looking for.
“This is really an enabler of the [e-commerce] market. As an investor not wanting to bet against Amazon or bet on a specific distribution model or specific retailer or food type, this is an enabler of the entire food e-commerce space,” Nystrom said. “They also have figured out how to optimize R-Value, or the thermal properties, to be able to keep something cold and withstand longer transit time with unique, environmentally-friendly materials. That has a much bigger implication for a food company to think through for its packaging.”
With the money, James McGoff, TemperPack co-founder and co-CEO, told NOSH the company hopes to build a West Coast office and manufacturing facility. The raise will also be used for product innovation. Aside from the capital, McGoff said he’s also looking forward to working with SJF for their industry insights and extensive network. The venture firm’s tight networking circle already helped TemperPack connect with Beckler.
“I think obviously the money will help us accelerate a lot of our plan, but beyond that I think their network is going to be really critical to making sure that we meet the right people in the industry,” McGoff said. “A lot of our customers are also starting to think about how to incorporate sustainability into their products so there is some overlap between the two networks of who SJF knows and who our customers know.”
With SJF’s spotlight, TemperPack hopes to show even more potential customers that their products’ possibilities go beyond CPG, and are also applicable to sectors from beverage to food service and pharmaceutical. McGoff added that the company is expected to launch a new line of packaging products before the end of the year. Though McGoff declined to share more details about the line, he did say it will also play to sector fluidity within the e-commerce channel.
“We want to set the new standard for the way people ship all perishables,” McGoff said. “We really want to develop the technology that allows green to be a standard, so that it’s not a premium anymore. I kind of think about it like recycling when it first started. People thought about it as an extra thing to do and now it is really more of an invisible activity that everyone does.”