News: Oogave Needs Your Help

January 28 2013, 3:45 PM

I don't drink soda. But on the occasion I do—and that's maybe twice a year—I'll hunt down a bottle of Oogave. I like that the bubbly beverage was born and bred in Denver, and that it's sweetened with organic agave nectar. A bonus: it contains neither chemicals nor GMOs (ahem, Pepsi and Coke). Founded by Stephen Anson four years ago, the all-natural soda has found a healthy niche here in Colorado and in more than 40 other states. 

But the promising, innovative company (Oogave is poised for top-line growth of 40-plus percent in 2013) has fallen on hard times. According to chief financial officer Gannon Merrell, Oogave's primary investor pulled out on New Year's Eve. That leaves the company with an uncertain future, even as 2013 should be a promising year: Oogave is launching a diet line—each soda will contain only 10 calories, as opposed to its already low 100 calories. The company's sodas have also been approved to go in Super Target's "cold box," which are front-of-the-store displays with healthy, grab-and-go food options. That program rolls out in May. And then there's the fact that Wolfgang Puck at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California, just opened with an Oogave soda fountain. "And we just got an email asking about Chicago distribution for one of the restaurants there," Merrell says. There are good things happening, and yet...

This is where you come in. Chances are you already know Oogave's drinks (ever tried that crazy-good watermelon cream flavor?), and we all talk about making a difference in our community. Well, Oogave has launched a crowd-funding campaign with hopes of raising $500,000 in 30 days. Merrell says that if the campaign is successful, it would mean "we wouldn't need additional equity. Later we would pursue additional investment for specific programs to accelerate growth." The campaign kicked off last week and has raised $5,076 thus far. The consensus, Merrell says, "is that people don't want Oogave to go away. The challenge is having people have the awareness that we need help."

Follow food editor Amanda M. Faison on Twitter at @5280Eats and on Pinterest.