When news leaked last October that beverage giant The Coca-Cola Company was looking to discontinue its ZICO Coconut Water brand as part of a broader culling of its portfolio, private-equity investor Mark Rampolla couldn’t wait to pick up the phone.
Rampolla started Zico a decade later above the garage of his New Jersey home. At the time, the market in the U.S. hadn’t really taken hold and was populated by smaller offerings from companies such as Goya and premium waters being imported from Brazil. Five years later, Rampolla sold a minority stake in Zico to Coca-Cola for $15 million before the beverage giant acquired the rest in 2013.
Zico will be added to the portfolio of PowerPlant Ventures, an equity fund Rampolla co-founded in 2015 that has invested in companies including Beyond Meat, Apeel Sciences and Just. PowerPlant, which is only acquiring the Zico brand name from Coca-Cola, will spend the first year reviewing the business, reestablishing relationships with suppliers and building up production.