Mission drives the brands in
In bike racing, the Peloton is a large group of riders who work together to streamline their efforts to optimize the performance of each rider. White Road’s Peloton consists of our portfolio partners.
WORKWEAR THAT MAKES A DIFFERENCE Coming from the outdoor and ski apparel industries, 1620 founders Josh Walker and Ted De Innocentis understand the difference that a well made, premium-quality product makes when it comes to performance. It’s the difference between acceptable and exceptional. And in workwear, that difference is even more stark. That’s why Josh and Ted started 1620. Growing up around tradespeople, they saw the effect cheaply made gear had on their friends and relatives. It made them too hot, too uncomfortable, too tired and less focused on the job. With their experience in tech fabrics, and a world- class textile manufacturer in their home state of Massachusetts, they set out to create the first premium quality workwear line. Their mission: to outfit today’s tradesperson with gear that’s worthy of their demanding lifestyle. Gear that lives up to the same standard of excellence as their work. Gear that makes all the difference between a job well done and a job done right.
Affinity Flavors was founded in 1995 and is led by flavoring industry veterans Tom Damiano and Dan Freimuth. They have been dedicated to creating custom flavors for brands across the spectrum that include beverages, baked goods, dairy, confections and nutritional foods & drinks. Headquartered in Corona, California, Affinity Flavors has a state of the art, Kosher, Organic and a Level 2 SQF Certified facility. Their team of flavor professionals pride themselves on delivering superior service and outstanding product quality to their customers.
BTF is a pioneer and one of the largest producers of high quality coconut sugar and coconut nectar, a rapidly growing cane sugar alternative for consumers. BTF also produces Coco Aminos, a healthy and great tasting soy sauce replacement along with other popular organic coconut products. Big Tree Farms is one of Indonesia’s largest organic food company, operating the largest integrated organic coconut supply chain in SE Asia, impacting over 15,000 small holder farmers throughout SE Asia. As a testament to their commitment to driving change and sustainability, they constructed their HQ on Bali out of bamboo. At the time of completion on 11/11/11, it was regarded as the world’s largest bamboo structure and was featured on CNN.
BioLite is a social enterprise that invents new ways to cook, charge and light your life off the grid. They are on a mission to bring energy everywhere through their unique model that not only serves high need families living in energy poverty but also campers looking for energy independent adventures in the outdoors.
Farmhouse Culture is a leader in probiotic rich foods including kraut, kimchi and probiotic beverages. Founded by Kathryn Lukas, a classically trained chef, she made it her mission is to make tasty foods that also help to educate consumers about the important role that probiotics play in human microbiome health and wellness. The product line is inspired by global flavors, made using the finest, as local as possible, organic and natural ingredients. FC is rapidly expanding its presence in the natural, club and conventional retail channels.
Fireclay Tile was founded with the aim to revolutionize the tile industry. By implementing an innovative online platform paired with impeccable product and customer service, Fireclay Tile has made it easier than ever to shop for beautiful, sustainable tile sourced and handcrafted in the USA. Their commitment to innovation, transparency, and sustainability was recognized in 2015 Inc. 5000 list as one of the fastest growing private companies in the U.S. and is the only tile company recognized as a B-Corp. Tile to the People!
“Working with the White Road team has been simply awesome. From their financial, accounting, and operations acumen, to marketing genius to sales and distribution expertise; each member of the team has something to add and is available whenever needed, with high level strategic insight. Beyond being great partners, they are also all great people who are passionate about building B-Corp-minded brands and making a difference in the world.”
My mother was a really supportive person and always looked at the bright side in a situation. I always try to be an optimist and see the good, even in the bad. Being positive in life has huge benefits not just for yourself but for those around you.How has business changed you?
There is absolutely no transparency in our industry. Customers have no idea what is in a product, where it was made, or who made it. Thus, it is all about marketing, and customers rarely understand what they are buying. Fireclay is one of few who operate with full transparency. We are the only B Corp tile manufacturer, and we would love to see others join this movement and focus on their business holistically.What's your proudest business accomplishment?
Turning around and growing Fireclay is absolutely my proudest business accomplishment. There were a lot of doubters along the way, and to say that Paul (Fireclay's Founder and my partner) and I weren't rejected hundreds of times would be an understatement. Whether it was customers, potential employees, banks, or investors, few believed we would be successful. While we still have a long way to go, the Fireclay team and brand are in a great place and are in control of our own destiny. That is tremendously satisfying.How do you know you're on the right track?
When my team is inspired, working hard, and happy, I know I'm on the right track.
Guayaki is a product line of beverages based upon the ancient South American drink yerba mate, a natural and nutritious energy drink. Helmed by a humble group of dedicated and eclectic individuals who work to bring their customers the finest blends and products featuring mate on earth. Their commitment extends beyond a commitment to organic, fair trade products, to an intense vision and mission to protect the South American rainforests. People have long imbibed mate to awaken the mind, perform extraordinary feats and to exchange confidences. Guayaki’s mission is to steward and restore 200,000 acres of rainforest and create over 1,000 living wage jobs.
Herb Pharm is a company of herbalists, scientists, and other specialists nestled in GMO-free Williams, Oregon. Herb Pharm has been cultivating herbs with precision and care since 1979. They are now the #1 market share liquid extract brand in the US and operates with a mission to deliver plant based medicine in its most efficacious and minimally processed forms, while protecting the land on which it's grown.
“The “white road” allows for more exploration and potentially unique discovery. You may arrive later, but things can be learned along the way that change and improve your destination. Ultimately, it can be more rewarding. It’s definitely more fun. I value and trust White Road. Talented, smart, connected, good people. I’m glad they're riding with us.”
“You’re a mile wide and an inch deep”, Jamie Sheenan. Advice from a VC. Sometimes it’s better to not get the investment but still take the free advice.How has business changed you?
It’s humbled me and enabled me to do good things, first by creating a great place for people to work. When a business is about something inherently healthy and sustainable, the good you do grows with your business. It’s a nice dynamic.How do you know you're on the right track?
When I sleep nights. It’s an indication I’m succeeding enough not to worry, keeping things in perspective, and doing it ethically.
The Honest Kitchen is an all-natural pet food company. The company produces 100% human grade dehydrated foods, treats and supplements. The Honest Kitchen uses humane and sustainable meats, and non-GMO produce. They have been named to Outside Magazine's Best Places to work for the past five consecutive years.
“The team at White Road have been terrific mentors for The Honest Kitchen, and we've really appreciated being able to tap into their expertise as we've navigated some big decisions over the years. It's been amazing to have access to such patient money, and to have board members we can count on to ask us the tough questions as our team has evolved during the course of our growth.”
“Tell the story.” A couple of different people told me pretty early on to take every possibly opportunity to tell anyone and everyone who’ll listen, what you’re up to. We use everything from office moves, to product launches, awards, ingredient upgrades and more, as a chance to have a conversation with the media and with our customers via social media, our newsletter and the blog. Part of being truly transparent and trustworthy means always making decisions you’re proud to shout about, so on the back end it means always living your values and not compromising on integrity. Then you can talk about everything you’re doing, which builds trust — and sometimes it inspires others to talk about you, too.How has business changed you?
I’d like it to be that I left the pet food industry in a slightly better place than I found it. Years ago, pet food was almost a dirty word. When I started The Honest Kitchen, I wanted to provoke change in the industry by helping consumers understand there was a better alternative to kibble and cans, and to inspire them to demand more from the companies they were spending their money with. Over the past decade and a half, a small herd of indy companies has emerged in this industry and together we’re working to help make sure dogs and cats eat better. Hopefully The Honest Kitchen will be recognized as a pioneer.How do you know you're on the right track?
Listening to customers is one of the biggest ways we can tell how we’re doing. Ultimately our products have to speak for themselves and it still moves me almost to tears, every time I meet a customer at an event, and they tell me how our products have literally saved their pet’s life. The other way we know we’re on track is because it’s difficult. There are many paths a business can take, and I always tell people that we make life very tough for ourselves, following the rules we’ve put in place for the way we do business. From sourcing humanely raised meats and non GMO produce to the way we make our food and source our packaging, truly living by our values isn’t easy, but we think it’s worth it to make a product that’s got real goodness.
Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods is the world’s largest hemp food grower and manufacturer, their products include Hemp Hearts™ (raw shelled hemp seeds), Hemp Heart Bites™, Toasted Hemp SeedsTM, and Hemp Pro™ – a full line of plant based protein and smoothie powders. Manitoba Harvest also supplies bulk and industrial hemp ingredients, under the Hemp Oil Canada Inc.™ brand. Founded by Mike Fata, he used his passion for hemp foods to personally transform his body, mind and spirit. Because they are a B-Corp Certified™ company, Manitoba Harvest educates on the health and environmental benefits of hemp and strives to support sustainability in all that they do.
“Working with the White Road team is a dream come true. They share our triple bottom-line approach (people, planet, and profits), and encourage a collaborative idea sharing partnership. Through the White Road team’s insight, connections, and inspiration we are fostering positive change.”
Dream bigger.How has business changed you?
I’m a born entrepreneur, but a made CEO. Through business I have learned to get comfortable with the uncomfortable, navigating the complexities of managing a business with over 150 team members.What's your proudest business accomplishment?
I started Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods as a twenty-year-old with the idea to share hemp foods with everyone after hemp foods helped changed my life. Back in 1998 no one had heard or tried hemp foods. We were building both a business and an entire new food category. My proudest accomplishment is taking hemp into the mainstream and showcasing to the world that hemp foods can be a valued part of everyday eating.Who is your biggest inspiration and why?
The women in my life - my wife and my mother. They both inspire me to be the best version of myself. My wife inspires continuous learning and development. My mother raised my brother and I as a single-mom. It’s no coincidence that both my brother and I are successful entrepreneurs. Mom instilled in us a work ethic and resilience that is fundamental in our success.How do you know you're on the right track?
My gut! I’m incredibly in-tune with my body. If something isn’t right chances are my gut or conscious will sense it.
Milk Stork is the first-ever breast milk shipping company for business traveling, breastfeeding moms. Daughter-father team, Kate Torgersen and Mike Torgersen, founded Milk Stork in 2015 after Kate struggled to maintain her commitment to breastfeeding her twins during a Clif Bar & Company business trip. Upon returning from her trip with two gallons of breast milk and eight pounds of melting ice, Kate was determined to create a simple solution to this complex logistical problem that so many working mothers face. Since then, Milk Stork has made it their mission to normalize breastfeeding and motherhood in the workplace by encouraging companies to provide Milk Stork as an essential employee benefit. In doing so, Milk Stork has helped thousands of women across the U.S. maintain their breastfeeding relationships by getting their "liquid gold" home quickly and safely.
In 2011 Michael decided to move to Colorado to be closer to the mountains and pursue his passion for ski racing. A high speed crash cut Michael’s racing career short and led to multiple knee surgeries and a full year of recovery. A critical part of Michael’s recovery was cold + compression therapy. He tried all of the available solutions on the market but found that they were poorly designed or inconvenient due to their reliance on ice. He was determined to find a better solution. Michael set out to develop a small, lightweight cold + compression therapy device that would be extremely easy to use and able to provide personalized therapy based on user or physician preferences. Most importantly, the device would provide cold therapy without the need for ice. Michael extensively researched different cooling technologies and worked closely with top orthopedic surgeons to define the exact requirement. He then spent 3 years developing, perfecting and executing the vision. In December 2014 the NICE1 cold + compression therapy system received FDA approval and 12 months later production of NICE1 commenced. NICE1 quickly established itself as the market leader in technology and design. It was immediately embraced by leading orthopedic surgeons, athletic trainers and professional athletes, including the Steadman Clinic, CU Sports Medicine, New York Yankees and US Ski & Snowboard Team.
Nix is a consumer diagnostic company taking a materials science approach to develop single-use biosensing wearable technologies. Nix is leveraging its platform toward a pipeline of proprietary and partnered programs beginning with hydration for athletes and extending to other consumer use cases in areas such as beauty, sports, nutrition, and infant care. Our initial product is a hydration biosensor that informs athletes, soldiers, and laborers when to drink, what to drink, and how much to drink, based on sweat biomarkers – providing actionable information in real-time.
Om is a leading brand and ingredient supplier of certified 100 percent organic, whole food, functional mushroom powders that contain bioactive nutrients of mushrooms as they are found in nature. The company was founded in 2010 by Sandra Carter M.A., MPH, Ph.D. Sandra’s extensive knowledge in health and wellness combined with mycologist Steve Farrar’s 30 years of growing premium quality, medicinal grade mushrooms have spearheaded the success of the business. Om’s USDA certified organic, Project Verified Non-GMO mushrooms are grown, dried, milled and packaged in its cGMP certified state-of-the-art indoor farm in California and each batch of mushrooms is DNA tested for an Identity Integrity 100 Percent Guarantee. Available in single species and mushroom blends that support daily health, sports performance, recovery, and cognition, Om’s products represent the Company’s commitment to offering the highest quality, scientifically-studied mushroom powders with applications for supplements, foods and beverages. www.ommushrooms.com.
Each week at work you get two paychecks, one is money and one is experience. Always take the job with the biggest experience paycheck.How has business changed you?
Business has changed me in the respect that I joined the natural foods industry. I discovered in this industry that I can make a difference in the world through my work at companies whose business model is making people and the planet’s existence healthier. At traditional jobs like E&Y and Nestle I had to seek that fulfillment outside of my job.What's your proudest business accomplishment?
While CEO of Traditional Medicinals, we had a Mother’s Milk tea that helped mothers who were having trouble breastfeeding. We got this item into Walmart and although it was the most expensive tea in their set it was the #1 tea purchased with food stamps which made up 21% of our annual sales of that item at Walmart. It’s not just wealthy moms that want to breastfeed their child – it is every mom and we helped provide them that opportunity.Who is your biggest inspiration and why?
My mom! I learned everything I ever needed to know about leadership from my mom. She made each of us five children feel special by instilling a belief in us that we were special. To this day each of us five children swear we are her favorite.How do you know you're on the right track?
Oh my, if anyone figures this one out please let me know. I like to judge my CEO performance by how I am doing with the lowest paid employees. As a CEO you unfortunately don’t get the constructive criticism other employees receive so you have to continually be self-reflective and self-evaluative.
Outside is the premier destination for active lifestyle enthusiasts and home to leading brands in the endurance sports, outdoor, and healthy living spaces. Each month, Outside reaches 80 million of the most active consumers in the world across its 25 media, digital, and technology platforms, creating an experience for both longtime adventurers and those just getting started. Outside’s membership offering, Outside+, bundles best-in-class storytelling, meal plans, gear reviews, online courses, films, TV series, discounted event access, magazines, and more.
PUBLIC bikes was born out of the deep respect and admiration their founder, Rob Forbes had for the streets of Amsterdam that are teeming with bikes and people, not cars. After founding and building Design Within Reach, Rob founded PUBLIC and embraced the two-wheeled lifestyle he viewed in Europe that didn't involve special clothing or technical gear. It was simple and practical. People of ages, in all forms of dress (including casual footwear) were on bikes and enjoying the ride.
Ragnar is the leading overnight running relay race that makes testing your limits a team sport and combines fun and participation with fitness and goals. Founded by Steve HIll, his son Dan and Tanner Bell, they made their dream a reality in 2004 when they organized the first Wasatch Back Relay, spanning 188 miles from Logan to Park City, UT. They currently run 21 events across the U.S. that cover both on and off road courses. On the road teams of 12 travel in two vans and participate in tag-team running 200+/- miles both day and night, point to point relay-style. Off road participants do the same by navigating three trail loops with a campground in the center. A race for elite runners down to the novice jogger, it’s the perfect race for anyone. Their mission is to inspire a global tribe of ordinary people who seek the extradordinary!
“A smart group of investors who focus on business values before ROI, with the belief that the dollars will follow the success.”
Two words, 5 Letters, Own It!How has business changed you?
Set goals, empower the people around you, provide guard rails, hold them accountable. No one wants to be micro managed and I certainly don’t like doing it. People thrive on achievement and development … feed that thirst.Who is your biggest inspiration and why?
Winston Churchill, because of his ability to persevere in the face of insurmountable adversity. Oh and also because he had such great quotes.How do you know you're on the right track?
The hardest part in life is if figuring out what you want. If you can clarify that, getting there is usually much easier than you think. Assuming you can decide, from there you are just checking in on progress.
Alec was living in El Salvador when he saw his friends and neighbors using billboards as roofing. It dawned on him: billboards are durable and weather resistant, made from vinyl (who knew?), and are not traditionally recyclable. Being an avid surfer, he came back to the US, grabbed his brother, and found someone to sew a surfboard bag made from billboards. Several phone calls to some large billboard companies later, truckloads started showing up to their parents’ house (sorry, mom!). And so it began. Over the past six years they've rescued 2,723,029 lbs of billboard vinyl that's destined for landfills and transformed it into unique, durable bags and accessories.
On a surf and ski trip through California in 2013, our founders were sleeping in a van, several miles up a dirt road near a secret hot spring. They awoke the next morning in subzero temperatures with a car that wouldn’t start. Far outside of cell reception, and confronted with an impossibly long walk into town, they decided to bundle up in their sleeping bags and drink whiskey while they waited for someone else to show up. Minutes turned to hours, and in that time the conversation took an unexpected turn to the subject of bedding. Cozy and warm in their sleeping bags, the two acknowledged how much better the materials felt and performed than what was on their beds back home. A resolve was made to create a “sleeping-bag-blanket” and the idea for the first Rumpl product was born. After several months using their homemade blankets, they realized that they had stumbled onto an idea much grander than just a sleeping-bag-blanket. The entire home industry was dated, consumers were unimpressed by available products, and there were no ‘cool’ brands to speak of. Most importantly, the idea of “home” was rapidly expanding, and traditional home products had not adapted. The Rumpl Brand was born.
Do fewer things better. This advice is so over-prescribed it's almost cliché, but it's so true. It's the hardest and most important thing you can do as an entrepreneur.How has business changed you?
It's made me much more thoughtful. Admittedly, I used to be an entirely shoot-from-the-hip, go-with-your-gut type of person. Without much consideration I'd make decisions really quickly and move on to the next thing. Today my gut instinct still holds a lot of weight, but I now take more time to look from other perspectives and think about the longer-term impact of my actions. I now have a better grasp on the weight each decision carries with it and I think I make smarter, more calculated choices.What's your proudest business accomplishment?
My proudest accomplishment is just seeing where Rumpl is today. I had never started a business and had no clue what I was doing in the early days. Most of the key decisions back then were made based off limited research and gut instinct. To see what it's turned into makes me really proud of the resourcefulness, instinct, and persistence that was needed to figure it out with no clear roadmap in front of me.Who is your biggest inspiration and why?
I have tons and in all cases they are underdogs. I don't mean that in the sense that they were labeled as less-qualified, I mean it in the sense that they didn't have a clear path or archetype in front of them. They figured something out for the first time, and they used their instincts, creativity, and determination to find solutions. In all cases these people are exceptionally artistic and creative.How do you know you're on the right track?
If there's a feeling that "this is the right move", and then that get's backed up with immediate results, I usually know we've made the right decision. When it's good, you just know it's good. The name "Rumpl" came instantly and everyone got it right away.
Santa Cruz Bicycles was founded in 1993 by Rob Roskopp in a space the size of a single car garage in the Seabright Cannery, in Santa Cruz California. Their first bike, the Tazmon, was a single pivot dual suspension bike that rattled established sensibilities and helped define the then- ethos of "simply advanced." That bike was the cornerstone for a brand that was founded on the notion of doing things their own way in order to build the best. They have been rattling sensibilities ever since in the international mountain bike world.
A few years ago, Gloria (our founder), lost a friend to a bike accident. His passing led Gloria to reflect on why she didn't wear a helmet while riding. She knew she had to change her perspective on safety gear, but she thought helmets were too bulky, too futuristic looking, and didn't fit her personal style. Instead of settling for the uncomfortable helmets on the market, she got to work designing one. Thousand's name is a reference to a goal of helping to save 1000 lives by making helmets people actually want to wear.
It's a simple one, and feels almost too simple when eveything seems complex, layered, and noisy but-- follow your gut. It's been an enduring piece of advice that's been with me since year 1.How has business changed you?
It's sharpened my resilency, and leadership skills in really big ways. Business can be challenging, and it's pushed me on a personal and professional level to rise to the occasion.What's your proudest business accomplishment?
I feel very proud of the work we've done to push diversity and sustainability forward, in an industry where those values aren't inherently built into the system.Who is your biggest inspiration and why?
A former mentor Mark Satkiewicz was, and is still is a very big inspiration to me. When things are challengeing, I sometimes think to myself, what would Mark do?How do you know you're on the right track?
When I read how we've helped keep people stay safe in crashes/accidents. It's really rewarding to read customer stories, and understand how we're fulfilling our mission.
Wild Planet Foods is a leading provider of the best tasting, sustainable canned Tuna, Salmon & Sardines in the United States. A mission-based market leader, Wild Planet’s commitment to sustainability has earned the company a recent #1 ranking by Greenpeace in a study of all US tuna brands. In harmony with the company’s commitment to a healthy planet, Wild Planet has recently ventured into the development of land-based foods with the successful launch of canned Organic Roasted Chicken Breast.
“White Road is the smartest money available for an emerging organic, sustainability or outdoor oriented company. Their ability to bring the industry leaders to the table for ongoing consultation and guidance is so far beyond the contribution of most investment firms. Our team at Wild Planet consider the guys at White Road to be our partners and our very good friends. Can it get any better than that for Founders and CEOs?”
I tell my sons to live life like they will die tomorrow and learn like they will live forever.How has business changed you?
Over the course of my career I have come to view business as a forum to advocate for a few deeply held beliefs, including supporting and encouraging conservation, advocating for every individual’s dignity, and to enable team members to be their best selves in their careers. I would like to encourage more individuals to join our industry with a foundation of authenticity, arriving at their business plans through their hearts rather than through their wallets. The natural/organic industry remains a potent agent for positive change. This industry is heavily populated with activists who bring continued improvement to product development, the supply chain, consumer awareness and individual health. Our industry is amazing - where else can we all build careers defined by integrity, creativity, conservation, and health advocacy?What's your proudest business accomplishment?
I have helped build teams that have brought revolutionary products to market, including the first organic chocolate in the US, and the premier sustainably sourced seafood. I hope this has provided an environment for talented men and women to thrive as professionals and as individuals in mission-driven enterprises stimulating positive ecological change.How do you know you're on the right track?
As a touchstone, I continually appraise whether the boy I was would be proud of the man I am.
MICHAEL'S STORY : Growing up as an athlete, and playing tennis at the professional level, I felt invincible! That changed when I was diagnosed with cancer at age 24. While recovering and trying to rebuild my immune system, I learned how important it is to fuel your body with a whole food diet. My co-founder Kristel, would share her homemade mixes of superfood powders. While taking them, I felt energized, happier and increasingly aware. The more I researched, the more shocked I became to learn of my athletic-diet’s effect on the body, and how these nutrient-rich superfoods had been used by indigenous cultures for thousands of years. Why didn’t more people know about this? I made it my personal mission to educate and inspire people to fuel their body with the best natural whole foods. Good nutrition, and information should be available for everybody! KRISTEL'S STORY : I too grew up playing tennis at the professional level and Michael and I actually met on the court! We were young, healthy and happy until Michael’s cancer diagnosis. It reminded me of when I was 12 and the same thing had happened to my mom. Determined to stay positive, I bought all of these loose bags of maca, wheatgrass, barley grass, chia seeds, spirulina, lucuma, flax seeds, you name it! My cabinets were chaotic, as my aunt Ellen, an orthonutritionst advised me on what vitamins and minerals the body needs on a daily basis, and what it needs to heal. I created 7 unique mixes, specific to a health benefit. My family, friends, and Michael tested the blends in their breakfast. The nutrient-dense superfood combinations were an EASY way to start the day SUPER. My allergies and eczema began to clear up. Everyone who took these mixes, began to look and feel better. Michael and I knew we needed to share these superfoods and information with the world! Nothing makes me more excited than sharing that healthy living is not that complicated (and that small changes make all the difference)!