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Industry Financial Technology
Founded 2011; 9 years ago (2011)
Founders Ryan Caldbeck, CEO
Rory Eakin, COO
Headquarters San Francisco, California
Number of employees
55 (2017)[1]

CircleUp is a financial technology company based in San Francisco that focuses on consumer goods startups.[2] Since its official launch in April 2012, CircleUp has helped several consumer companies raise equity including Back to the Roots,[3] Halo Top Creamery[4] Little Duck Organics,[5] Rhythm Superfoods[6][7] and others. General Mills has an investment fund that is partnered with CircleUp to invest in companies listed on the platform.[8][9][10]


CircleUp was founded in 2011 by ex-private equity professionals Ryan Caldbeck and Rory Eakin.[11] Prior to launch, CircleUp raised $1.5 million from investors such as Clayton Christensen, David Topper (ex-head of Equity Capital Markets at JP Morgan) and Maveron (a venture capital firm founded by Howard Schultz).[12] The company officially launched in 2012 as a platform for entrepreneurs to raise capital and for investors to find companies to fund that were not part of the tech industry.[13][14] Only original shares of the company are sold through the CircleUp platform.[14] On the site, entrepreneurs can connect with investors and investors are able to find investment opportunities as well as diligence materials such as investor presentations, financials, product details, industry information and third-party data.[15] CircleUp partnered with SecondMarket to cross-list companies seeking investments.[16] In 2014, CircleUp raised $14 million in a financing round led by Canaan Partners and including previous investors Google Ventures and Union Square Ventures.[17]

In 2015, CircleUp raised a $22 million fund, the CircleUp Growth Fund, which would match investments coming through its platform.[18] On November 11, 2015, the company announced its Series C funding round of $30 million led by Collaborative Fund.[19][20]

In 2016, CircleUp ran a closed trial of its Marketplace Index Fund, designed to give larger investors access to a portfolio of consumer products companies, which were identified through the company's classifier software, which was later named Helio.[13]

CircleUp Credit Advisors was announced in July 2017 as an online lender for companies seeking credit with favorable investment data. Community Investment Manager partnered with CircleUp to provide a $20 million credit facility.[20]

In October 2017, the company launched a $125 million investment fund, CircleUp Growth Partners, dedicated to early-stage consumer companies. The fund uses CircleUp's Helio software.[21] CircleUp joined the Nielsen Connected Partner program in December 2017. The partnership allows CircleUp to use Nielsen data for its Helio software.[22]

On December 11, 2018, it was reported that CircleUp's founder and CEO Ryan Caldbeck was "talking about building a systematic fund in the private markets."[23]


The Helio software, originally referred to as The Classifier, analyzes public and private company data from public records, partnerships and information the company has acquired to identify potential investments.[2][24][25] It identifies brands which make between $1 million and $15 million in revenue for signs that they are likely to breakout. It creates analyses with classifications such as reach of distribution, product quality, brand strength, information on the management team as well as company financials which is then reviewed by a team of analysts.[1][26][27]

CircleUp Credit Advisors

CircleUp Credit Advisors was established to extend lines of credit to companies in need of additional working capital or small amounts of capital needed for company growth. As the loans are repaid, CircleUp can fund additional companies. At the time that CircleUp Credit Advisors launched, it had initially issued 50 loans to companies identified by the Helio software.[28][29][30]

CircleUp Growth Partners

CircleUp Growth Partners was launched in 2017 as a $125 million fund designed to invest in startup consumer product companies. Initial investments included HUM Nutrition and 4505 Chicharrones. The fund was backed by Temasek Holdings, former BlackRock executive Ken Kroner, co-founder of Bumble and Bumble hair care Tevya Finger, former Annie's Homegrown CEO John Foraker, founder of Plum Organics Gigi Lee Chang and Euclidean Capital.[31][32][33]

Marketplace Index Fund

The Marketplace Index Fund is CircleUp's version of an ETF for early-stage private markets. The fund has a minimum $25,000 investment.[2]


  1. ^ a b Griffith, Erin (27 February 2017). "Investment Platform CircleUp Is Using a Moneyball-Style Algorithm to Identify the Next Hit Consumer Brand". Fortune. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b c McAlone, Nathan (30 September 2016). "Why this top tech investor is funding a startup that could chop away at his own business". Business Insider. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  3. ^ Bercovici, Jeff. "Why This Food Startup Says Hold the Technology". Inc. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  4. ^ LaVito, Angelica (29 June 2017). "The future of ice cream looks a lot like Halo Top". CNBC. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  5. ^ "Melt Raises Equity Through Crowdfunding".
  6. ^ Watson, Elaine (13 January 2016). "Rhythm Superfoods closes $3m financing round led by Gen Mills' 301 INC arm and CircleUp; plans new beet chip launch". Food Navigator. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  7. ^ Giammona, Craig (17 January 2017). "General Mills Turns to Kale Chips to Boost Growth". Bloomberg. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  8. ^ Leena Rao (11 November 2015). "Where The Next Ben & Jerry's Can Find Investors". Fortune. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  9. ^ Kolodny, Lora (4 November 2015). "General Mills Fund to Back Food Startups Through CircleUp". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  10. ^ Clifford, Catherine (4 November 2015). "Why This $34 Billion Company Is Dipping a Toe Into Crowdfunding". Entrepreneur. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  11. ^ "$1,000 and a Click".
  12. ^ "Backed with $1.5M, CircleUp Aims High".
  13. ^ a b Ugolik, Kaitlin (26 May 2016). "CircleUp Rethinks Venture Capital for Consumer Goods". Institutional Investor. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  14. ^ a b Needleman, Rafe (18 April 2012). "CircleUp: Crowdfunding for the 1 percent". CNet. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  15. ^ "Crowdfunding for Accredited Investors".
  16. ^ Griffith, Erin (10 January 2013). "CircleUp funds five food companies, partners with SecondMarket". Pando. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  17. ^ Alden, William (26 March 2014). "Crowdfunding Site CircleUp Raises $14 Million". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  18. ^ Lunden, Ingrid (13 July 2015). "CircleUp Raises $22M To Invest In Consumer Brands On Its Crowdfunding Platform". Tech Crunch. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  19. ^ Kolodny, Lora (2015-11-11). "CircleUp Banks $30 Million to Help Investors Find Top Food Startups". Retrieved 2015-11-11.
  20. ^ a b "CircleUp Adds Lines of Credit To Equity Finance Platform". 27 July 2017. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  21. ^ "CircleUp Launches New $125M Venture Capital Fund". Finsmes. 31 October 2017. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  22. ^ "CircleUp Joins Nielsen Connected Partner Programme". Research Live. 14 December 2017. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  23. ^ Term Sheet: A Direct Public Debut, Fortune
  24. ^ Kessler, Sarah (17 March 2016). "When Sata – Not Humans – Guide VC Funding, More Women Win". Fast Company. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  25. ^ Mims, Christopher (7 March 2016). "Software Is Disrupting Venture-Capital Sector". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  26. ^ Konrad, Alex (31 October 2017). "CircleUp's $125 Million Fund Looks To Bring Moneyball To Backing Consumer Brand Winners". Forbes. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  27. ^ Watson, Elaine (31 October 2017). "$125m CircleUp fund will take 'human bias' out of early stage CPG investments". Food Navigator. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  28. ^ Lawler, Ryan (26 July 2017). "CPG investing platform CircleUp will now issue loans to help consumer brands grow". Tech Crunch. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  29. ^ Wack, Kevin (26 July 2017). "Crowdfunding platform expands into small-business lending". American Banker. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  30. ^ Calvey, Mark (26 July 2017). "CircleUp expands into lending to consumer startups". San Francisco Business Times. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  31. ^ Kolodny, Lora (31 October 2017). "A new fund uses A.I. to invest in consumer and retail products with the best chance of success". CNBC. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  32. ^ Roof, Katie (31 October 2017). "CircleUp announced $125 million venture fund". Tech Crunch. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  33. ^ Ortenberg, Carol (31 October 2017). "CircleUp Closes $125M Fund Powered by Machine Learning". Bevnet. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
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