ICA accelerates direct-trade specialty coffee maker, Progeny Coffee, with $250,000 equity investment.
Oakland, CA — Fast-growing direct-trade specialty coffee company, Progeny Coffee is ICA’s latest investment. The Silicon Valley–based company has just closed a $250,000 equity investment from ICA’s Growth Fund. The company is a 2018 graduate of the Accelerator at ICA and the 4th Accelerator alumni company to receive growth capital from ICA.
Progeny Coffee supplies high-quality beans to some of the San Francisco Bay Area’s most-recognized brands, including Google, Stripe, and Twitter, and places a premium on quality – exclusively selling coffee that is rated 84 or higher on the 100 point specialty coffee Review scale. Progeny sources all of its beans from sustainable farms in Colombia and roasts them at its Bay Area roastery.
Progeny Coffee was founded by fifth-generation coffee farmer and trailblazing entrepreneur, Maria Jose Palacio with her husband, marketing and branding expert, John Trabelsi. The pair have set Progeny on a mission to “lift farmers out of poverty” by partnering directly with the artisanal coffee farms that supply Progeny’s beans.
By championing an innovative approach they’re calling “Beyond trade” they have streamlined Progeny’s supply chain, increased transparency, and double their farmers’ incomes. What’s more, Progeny also provides technical assistance to the farmers and partners with them on local infrastructure projects.
“We built Progeny Coffee to make sure that we were giving back to the farmers and their communities while creating the best specialty coffees possible. We know it is possible to do well by doing good and we are happy to have a great partner like ICA alongside us,” said Maria Palacio, co-founder.
Progeny’s commitment to equity is built in to its very business model. The company is committed to creating prosperity at the source – on the Colombian farms that supply its coffee – and in the Bay Area where it employs a growing team of five. Progeny’s high growth potential and ability to create good jobs and build wealth, make it a perfect fit for the ICA Growth Fund.
ICA’s investment also marks the non-profit venture capital fund’s first capital deployment in Silicon Valley, an area most often associated with the tech sector. While technology companies generate headlines, female founders like Maria, and founders of companies not explicitly in the tech sector can be overlooked by investors.
“Maria and John have built a scalable business that embodies the ICA mission. They have a top-notch product, they are building wealth in the community, and they have demonstrated a pathway to growth. We are proud to be continuing our partnership through this investment.” said ICA Chief Investment Officer, John Gough. “What’s more, Progeny Coffee is a prime example that there is more to Silicon Valley than just tech,” he added.
Last year, Progeny responded to the pandemic by boosting its online presence, revamping its e-commerce processes, and launching a new subscription coffee bean service.
Progeny’s fast growth was slowed temporarily by the COVID-19 pandemic, but its not looking back. Under Palacio’s leadership the company is poised to scale in 2021 and remains focused on building out its vertically-integrated supply networks, recruiting more suppliers, and will use ICA’s growth capital to expand operations domestically.
ICA’s investment, structured as a convertible note, is part of a larger $2.0MM capital round for Progeny.
ICA has a proven track record of investing in high-growth businesses and one of working in the coffee industry. ICA provided advising support to Blue Bottle Coffee early in the specialty coffee brand’s growth trajectory and was one of the first investors in Oakland’s Red Bay Coffee. As part of the investment deal, ICA Chief Program Officer, Dianna Tremblay will being joining Progeny’s Board of Directors.
“I’m thrilled to continue on the journey with Maria and John through this investment,” said Dianna Tremblay, Chief Program Officer at ICA. “It has been great to watch Progeny grow since its time in The Accelerator at ICA. Their ability to adapt to an ever changing market, grow through innovation, and raise capital is a great example of how ICA’s coaching and capital can truly accelerate great businesses.”
As a nonprofit venture capital Community Development Financial Institution, ICA makes investments that support our mission to accelerate great businesses to close the racial and gender wealth gaps. ICA’s Growth Fund makes growth equity investments of $100,000 to $1,000,000 in support of an investment strategy intentionally focused on racial and gender equity.
Progeny has been recognized in national media, including in Forbes Magazine, Vox, and by Good Morning America, and Maria’s leadership as CEO landed her on Inc. Magazine’s Female Founders 100 list in 2020.
You can find Progeny Coffee products at progenycofee.com and learn more about ICA’s investment strategy at ica.fund.