Pittsburgh-Based Yogurt Company Raises Capital -Project Olympus - Carnegie Mellon University

Friday, January 8, 2016

Pittsburgh-Based Yogurt Company Raises Capital

A Strip District startup that sells its organic Greek yogurt in restaurants and supermarkets in 12 states less than a year after its debut, has raised $751,090 from investors, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Naturi Inc. will use the money for further expansion, confirmed Ned Renzi, who is a director of and an investor in the young company. Naturi is in discussions with national supermarket chains to carry its yogurt, Renzi added, but could not disclose further details.

Naturi, which incorporated in February 2015, was co-founded by Aditya Dhere and Anes Dracic, recent graduates of Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business. The yogurt is made on a farm in upstate New York. Renzi described it as "something of a virtual company." Dhere, who is president and CEO, did not return calls.

Renzi is a partner of Birchmere Ventures. Naturi is based in the venture capital firm’s offices, but Birchmere is not an investor. Renzi’s investment is personal.

“When the founders were at CMU, they did projects for Birchmere, so when they were coming up on graduation and considering options, we were meeting regularly to discuss opportunities and the idea of starting a Greek yogurt company came up,” Renzi explained.

The idea clicked. Dracic’s mother made and sold yogurt and he had always been interested in creating artisanal foods. Also, there wasn’t much competition in the organic Greek yogurt sector, Renzi said.

“I like the team and I love to support entrepreneurs and have a handful of angel investments that don’t conflict with Birchmere,” Renzi said. “My wife and I like yogurt, and Naturi’s has more protein and less sugar.”

Naturi yogurt has distribution as far west as Milwaukee and spans states along the East Coast. In the Pittsburgh region, it is carried by several different stores including McGinnis Sisters, Whole Foods, and Giant Eagle’s Market District.

“We’re also doing very well on the corporate side,” Renzi said. “Google and CMU are big consumers in their cafeterias.” Read More»

By: Patty Tacarella