It was a big week for SKU alum Hella Cocktail Co. Pronghorn, an independent company dedicated to expanding diversity within the spirits industry, announced a capital investment in Hella. The investment, along with Pronghorn’s invaluable expertise and services, will accelerate the Hella’s growth. The size of the investment was not disclosed.
Hella’s co-founder Jomaree Pinkard will transition to Chairman of Hella, and assume his appointment as Pronghorn’s new CEO and Managing Director.
“We are excited at the overwhelming support Pronghorn has extended to the Hella Cocktail family,” said Tobin Ludwig, Co-Founder at Hella Cocktail Co. “The investment in our shared vision at Hella is a true testament to Pronghorn’s mission to elevate brands across the category and create real industry change. We’re proud to see our Co-founder and Chairman, Jomaree Pinkard, bring his work to the next level for the entire spirits industry.”
From Mason Jar to Million-Dollar Brand
Hella, which went through the SKU Dallas ’21 Track, was founded by Pinkard, Eddie Simeón and Tobin Ludwig. The “Bitter Boys” spent 10 years creating and developing the brand, growing from a mason jar into a multimillion-dollar venture built on a foundation of inclusivity and inspired confidence. They bootstrapped the brand, starting with zero dollars and no distribution. The company has gone through several strategic brand iterations and groundbreaking product innovations. It is the first BIPOC-founded owned and led American Beverage brand to be available in all 50 states.
Hella’s products now are sold or used in more than 20K stores, bars, hotels, and restaurants. Over the past year, Hella’s recent achievements include celebrating its 10-year anniversary and the innovation of a new beverage category with its line of Bitters & Soda.
Last June, premium whiskey producer Uncle Nearest invested $5 Million In Hella Cocktail through its venture arm. The Uncle Nearest portfolio includes crafted bitters, premium mixers, and non-alcoholic bitters and soda RTDs.
Hella is the newest addition to Pronghorn’s steady stream of capital investments this year. Pronghorn recently invested in Tequila with Friends, Den of Thieves Whisky, and Ego Tequila, The financial investment in Hella Cocktail Co. will be supplemented with access to Pronghorn’s valuable services, which include consulting services from Pronghorn’s team of industry experts.
Buzz Optional Trend
These investments are helping to further accelerate the fast-growing trend in the cocktail world, where “the buzz is optional”, says Jomaree Pinkard, CEO and cofounder of the botanically inspired mixers and beverages brand. The investment falls on the heels of recent rounds of angel investments in Tequila with Friends, Den of Thieves Whisky, and Ego Tequila, The financial investment in Hella will be supplemented with access to Pronghorn’s valuable services, which include consulting services from Pronghorn’s team of industry experts.
“I know I speak for the entire team and myself when I say we are looking forward to welcoming Jomaree to Pronghorn,” says Pronghorn co-founder Dia Simms. “Jomaree shares the same modern, disruptive approach to building companies as we do at Pronghorn, making him the perfect fit to lead our company and ensure investments in other Black-owned spirits companies are successful.”
“I am thrilled to be joining Pronghorn. I look forward to helping drive wealth and economic power to the next generation of Black entrepreneurs and business leaders in the beverage alcohol space,” Pinkard said. “I’m incredibly grateful to be fully supported by my Hella Cocktail Co. co-founders Tobin Ludwig and Eddie Simeon, investors, and new family at Pronghorn who all share the common vision of uplifting minority-founded, owned and led spirit companies through their various journeys.”
Pinkard, a native New Yorker, is a graduate from the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce and earned his MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. His career journey has taken him from helping to develop and implement The Salvation Army’s September 11 World Trade Center Recovery Program to an independent consulting role for the National Football League. Pinkard brings an established history of pragmatic strategy that has maximized company potential to his new home at Pronghorn.
A toast to Hella
To commemorate the executive appointment and the new union between Hella and Pronghorn, both entities have released a new cocktail recipe that industry friends and consumers alike can toast to the news with.=
Bittersweet Hella Rum Cocktail
- 4.0oz Hella Cocktail Co. Bittersweet Spritz Aromatic Bitters & Soda
- 1.5oz Ten To One Dark Rum
- 0.5oz Fresh Lime Juice
- 3 Dashes of Hella Orange Bitters
Combine ingredients in a highball over ice. Stir gently and garnish with a lime wedge