From Spartacus 'swordsmen' to cavemen diet promoters, CleanPaleo on why it needs to raise $4 million

Three men – two of whom met as sword-fighting extras on the set of TV show Spartacus – have bonded so well they grew a business, CleanPaleo, centred around making food that captures the essence of what the cavemen used to eat. The company is now seeking to raise $4 million to fuel its next growth path.

When left-arm fast bowler Mitchell McClenaghan isn't playing cricket for Lancashire, he's teaming up with two Kiwi entrepreneurs, Ryan Kamins and Art Green, to sell natural whole food paleo products. 

Now their company, CleanPaleo, is looking to raise $4 million through the issue of new ordinary shares, in return for a 30% share in the company, and is working with  boutique merchant capital firm TBK Capital, 

CleanPaleo is hoping to lift sales to $500,000 by March next year. Next month the company's products will be listed on Amazon and on Asian online-shopping powerhouse, Ali Baba. The company hopes that this, coupled with inroads into the Indian market, will take sales up to $5 million over the next 12 months, and to $45 million in the following 12 months.

In March this year, CleanPaleo sought to raise $100,000 through crowdfunding, but secured only $1,374.

The company is now using TBK Capital to raise considerably more capital, says the company's COO Green.

“Ideally we would need someone with experience in a similar industry to make the company grow, and smart money – so someone who doesn’t just provide the capital but someone who has a network, knowledge, experience and guidance.”

The money raised will be used to among other things, for building stock levels, for advertising and promotions, and new working capital for product development.

The paleo diet goes back to what cavemen would eat; wholesome foods of fruit and vegetables, meat and seafood – with the exclusion of dairy and processed products.

The business started with Kamins and Green experimenting with making cereal for breakfast instead of eating leftovers or having bacon and eggs all the time.

“That’s why we started with the cereal…Mitch liked them so we figured there are others like us, in the same boat, we approached some stores and it sold out very well. We decided to give it a proper go and make a business out of it.”

CleanPaleo currently sells three products; protein powders (mocha, mango and vanilla), cereals, and biltong (cured meat).

Prices range from $6.99 for the biltong, $18.99 for cereal, and $57.99 for the protein powders.

This company recently released release CoGo berries; a healthy confectionary alternative for paleo fiends.

CleanPaleo has four full time staff including Kamins and Green, and McClenaghan when he isn’t playing cricket.

Educating customers

One secret to its success is educating consumers about what the paleo diet is, and the benefits, Kamins says. When the company started, the paleo diet wasn’t well known in New Zealand so, often, they had to talk to retailers about what paleo dieting was and why they should sell their product.

As the company extends its reach into Hong Kong and different parts of Asia, it will keep its focus of educating consumers, Kamins says.

He credits the team and his business partners "working their asses off" to create the momentum CleanPaleo has seen. 

Despite McClenaghan being away at times, both agree there are some beneficial things that comes with the territory of Mitch being a well-known cricketer.

“Having someone like Mitch on-board as a professional athlete opens a lot of doors and his profile, especially in India where we have now seen a huge advantage of having a cricketer support our brand and his network,” says Kamins. "The three of us work well as a team picking up on things that others wouldn’t – we see it from a different angle listening to things our team shares with us but ultimately having the same goal.

"Even if one or two percent of the population in America and Australia know of the paleo lifestyle diet; because of their population size one or two percent is still a large amount of people."

Whole foods, the CleanPaleo way

Kamins says the company has kept the product consistent to its paleo philosophy, despite being marketed and sold in different countries.

“For example we don’t market rice under paleo here in New Zealand but in Asia we are looking at varying our product for the different regions to suit the markets of what has been consumed for a long period of time."

All ingredients for the products are sourced from New Zealand and Australia in support of local quality and brands, while some are sourced from California.

Kamins says the company's vision is for paleo foods to become as much a section in our local supermarkets as gluten-free is.

“We were the first in New Zealand for paleo-specific products and since then there have been other companies developing,” he says. “It shows the growth of category as a whole, the more exposure paleo lifestyles gets we do to.”

CrossFit, dairy free, gluten free boost for paleo diet

Green says that the popularity of the exercise regime CrossFit has helped those looking to eat healthily.

“Essentially our products are paleo specific but at the same time we cater to a lot of markets with some people wanting whole foods in general, nothing with processed foods and those looking for dairy free and gluten free options.

“Those markets are still growing in themselves so people who know about paleo and what our products have in them will come to understand more and more that we cater to a variety and so whether you are wanting to do paleo or not we believe our products are better than those that aren’t,” Green adds.

Local supermarkets have played a role for CleanPaleo to market its products, including in-store tastings and giveaways. Kamins argues people are more inclined to buy a product having tried or tasted it first.

“That has been a big expense for us but we know long term and in stores and food shows if we can get it into customers’ hands it’s pretty beneficial to us.”

CleanPaleo encourages its customers to eat paleo  80% of the time, rather and not get stressed over what is paleo and what isn’t.