MetaBrand Capital, a “conscious capital” private equity fund and the new investment pillar of MetaBrand, announced in late 2014 a $5.75 million investment in Brooklyn, NY-based Runa LLC, supporting the growth of the natural, “healthy energy” food and beverage category utilizing the Amazonian guayusa tree-leaf sourced in Ecuador.

MetaBrand founder and longtime natural products entrepreneur Eric Schnell embraces the “quadruple bottom-line,” a socially and environmentally aware business philosophy dedicated to people, planet, profit – and purpose.

Through the MetaBrand Capital fund, the company will primarily focus on growth capital investments in the food, beverage, nutrition and natural and organic product industries with strategic partners that embody and embrace a similar socially conscious business approach.

Other notable investors joined MetaBrand Capital in the round, including Mark Rampolla, founder of Zico; and Brian Krumrei, managing director, TSG Consumer Partners; as well as investors from the music and entertainment industry including Jon Fishman, drummer for the band Phish, and Coran Capshaw, founder of artist management company Red Light Management.

Runa, co-founded in 2009 by college classmates Tyler Gage and Dan MacCombie, is a privately held company that sells certified organic and fair trade beverages made from guayusa (pronounced “gwhy-you-sa”) leaves. Guayusa is a native Amazonian super-leaf with as much caffeine as a cup of coffee and double the polyphenols of leading green tea products.

Unlike traditional teas, guayusa has no tannins, so it tastes surprisingly smooth and naturally sweet. Indigenous peoples in the Ecuadorian Amazon have brewed guayusa like tea for thousands of years as an essential part of what makes them ‘Runa’ – fully alive.

Runa partners directly with more than 3,000 indigenous farming families in a Fair Trade relationship. By organically growing guayusa in traditional forest gardens they help protect the rainforest.

“We’re anticipating strong multi-category growth of the guayusa ingredient, and we’re truly excited to work with the powerhouse MetaBrand team in our efforts to become a leading brand and ingredient platform in the organic, specialty and conventional markets,” said Mr Gage.

“With this new investment, we plan to increase our support of the distributors and retailers that have helped us build our brand so far, and go deeper in key markets where Runa is growing.”