With New Funding, Kiva Eyes Continued Growth of Popular Edible Products
Kiva Brands, one of the most recognizable THC-infused food companies in California, is fresh off a $12.3 million capital infusion that it hopes will boost innovation and help solidify its position as a leader in the edibles category.
To date, the company has raised upwards of $27 million as its grown out of the kitchen and into six commercial cannabis markets throughout the U.S.
But it wasn’t always that way. Founders Kristi Knoblich Palmer and Scott Palmer were photographers struggling to make ends meet when they hatched a plan to create a new kind of edibles brand nearly a decade ago.
The idea was simple: create a product that was “potent, consistent, and enjoyable to consume.”
“We had the idea to reinvent and improve edibles,” Mrs. Palmer told THCnet. “We wanted consumers to connect with them in a more real way.”
After nine months of online research and at-home experiments, Kiva Confections’ first THC-infused chocolate was born.
The earliest challenge, according to Palmer, was finding a high-quality chocolate with the right mouthfeel that didn't overpower the taste of the cannabis.
“There are lovely notes of cannabis if you properly accent the flavors,” she said. “We wanted a perfect taste in addition to the promise of consistency.”
Positioned as a premium cannabis brand, Kiva has has become an influential leader in the cannabis industry since it launched in 2010.
Using an initial “friends and family” investment of $36,000 from Palmer’s father, Kiva created its flagship product -- a chocolate bar containing 100 mg of THC (10 mg per piece).
The company’s artisanal approach to chocolate edibles and its premium branding helped it achieve early success, and Kiva was able to cash flow all of its growth through the first eight years on the market.
In 2018, as competition increased and regulatory concerns mounted, the company sought out its first round of traditional fundraising. According to an SEC filing, Kiva secured about $8.5 million in series last August.
“The funding helped us hire the right internal team and our investment partners offered valuable insight and strategic guidance,” Palmer told THCnet.
The new funding also helped spawn the creation of Kiva’s newest product offering, Camino Gummies.
Inspired by the El Camino Real, a 600-mile California road that connects Northern and Southern California, the distinctly-branded gummies come in five flavors: wild berry, Blenheim apricot, sparkling pear, pineapple habanero, and watermelon lemonade.
“Camino is unique, and we want to ensure consumers understand how it stands out from the pack with its tailored terpene formulations to create specific effects,” Palmer said, noting that a portion of the $8.5 million was used to hire a team and to raise awareness about the new gummy line.
Camino gummies offer a range of options for consumers with sativa, indica, hybrid and CBD infusions, alongside mood-enhancing terpene blends. The sparkling pear variety contains just 2 mg of THC and 6 mg of CBD per bite, while the remaining flavors all contain 5 mg of THC per bite.
“We wanted to build a gummy only if it added value, did something new, and provided a solution to an unmet problem,” said Palmer.
Consumer response has been positive, Palmer said, noting that wild berry is the no. 2 best-selling gummy in California, according to BDS Analytics.
To help build on its success, the company has raised more than $18 million in 2019, according to SEC filings.
Other products in the Kiva portfolio include Petra Mints, which contain 2.5 mg THC per piece and are recognized as California's first “micro-dosed” mint. The company also sells Terra Bites -- bite-sized cannabis-infused chocolate with 5 mg THC per piece.
“We pushed forward the concept of microdosing, giving consumers more control and titration, the ability to increase dosages of THC incrementally,” Palmer said.
Kiva Confections’ product innovation has enabled the company to establish a prominent retail presence, particularly in California where it boasts over 500 accounts. The company’s products are also sold in more than 200 accounts across Michigan, Illinois, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii.
According to Palmer, it’s the company’s relentless focus on creating innovative products with beautiful branding, while delivering a safe and reliable consumer experience, that has fueled growth.
“Professionalism means giving consumers a controlled, consistent edible that always tastes amazing,” said Palmer. “We strive to give consumers everything they need to have a positive experience.”