The family office of billionaire entrepreneur Daniel Lubetzky, Equilibra, has embarked on a new chapter.
Now called Camino Partners, the startup incubator and investment platform, aims to take lessons from building KIND Snacks (acquired by Mars) to help at least 10 early-stage consumer brands trailblaze their unique paths for growth over the next five years.
“Camino Partners is focused on partnering with entrepreneurs to build long-term value using a toolkit comprised of the skills and values that we know do drive success,” Lubetzky said in a statement. “Having built KIND through every stage of its journey from inception to multi-billion-dollar platform, we have market-proven experience that we are excited to put to work alongside our partners.”
All Equilibra’s team members will thereafter transition to Camino Partners, which will be led by Managing Director Elle Lanning, who has also been serving as an executive at KIND for over a decade. Lanning said the newly launched entity will include Equilibra’s brands, such as SOMOS Foods and Belgian Boys, in its portfolio, while planning to deploy $350 million in the coming years.
“It’s more than a continuation of Equilibra,” Lanning told me recently, “as we dug deeper into our core strengths, we realized our top priority is putting our operational experience as founders and entrepreneurs to work, and forging individualized paths for building brands.”
‘Ready-To-Scale’ Criteria For Investment Targets
Emerging businesses have a tendency to derail their ethos upon receiving institutional investments, and are oftentimes misguided by “tried-and-true” playbooks, according to Lanning. That won’t necessarily be the case through partnerships with Camino.
“We’re being very choiceful about our decisions,” Lanning explained, “meaning there’s not a right way to roll out a brand from a channel strategy perspective; there’s no one timeframe to maximize an exit opportunity.” Instead, Camino will solve startups’ specific growing pains by matching them with KIND’s expertise and resources through various stages. “We really want to support and help them frame and drive their own journeys,” she added.
Camino Partners will also expand its scope beyond food and beverage into durables, replenishable items, and the broad fast-moving consumer goods category, although there isn’t a strict set of criteria for companies to be eligible for receiving funding.
“We think more through this idea of what we call ‘ready-to-scale criteria,’ which is a product that can meet a set of market needs across different consumer types,” Lanning said.
“If it’s a regional brand, we could help build it to perform outside of its home region; or if it started as specialty brand, we’d want it to be able to sell in the mass channel, a traditional grocery — our collaborations can happen at different revenue thresholds.”