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Danone Acquires Happy Family

The fast-growing organic baby food company hands over 90 percent in equity to Danone for hundreds of millions of dollars. Founder and CEO Shazi Visram couldn't be happier.
Shazi Visram, Happy Family Brands
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Mother's Day will always be significant for Shazi Visram. It's the day the CEO and founder of Happy Family launched her organic food company in 2006, and the day that dream sold for hundreds of millions of dollars nearly a decade later. 

This week, Danone announced plans to acquire an equity interest of over 90 percent in Happy Family, which sells a range of organic foods from yogurt to fruit crisps. With presence on five continents, Danone's name is synonymous with food, and the acquisition has the power to turn Happy Family into the next Gerber. 

Happy Family already holds over 4 percent of the market, with gross sales of more than $60 million and high growth projections for 2013. According to the company, its revenue nearly quadrupled in two years from $13.3 million in 2010. 

But the future wasn't always so bright for the fast-growing company. "I was so broke that I remember going down to the High Street Station to catch the C train to go back to Jersey City, and my credit cards were all so maxed out that I could not buy one single swipe on the subway," Visram told Inc. last year.

Visram's company is known best for replacing glass jars with squeeze pouches, that gained traction at Target. Within two weeks Visram said she had one of the store's most popular products. That selling point enabled her to raise $3 million and then another round of $18 million to produce the 15 million pouches that would ultimately catch Danone's eye in fall 2012.

Happy Family placed 68th on the Inc. 500 that year, and Visram--who is now 36 and mother to a three-year-old boy--is selling her products across the U.S. in more than 20,000 stores such as Whole Foods, Amazon.com and Target, as well as in Turkey, Trinidad and China, according to the Wall Street Journal

Visram, who expressed a desire to be acquired by Danone while still a student at Columbia Business School, said she couldn't be happier. "This agreement will allow us to further our goal of providing organic nutrition to more children, both by making our products more available and by continuing to provide new innovations to the baby and toddler category."  

The transaction is expected to be finalized in the coming months.

 

 

Sometimes, You Need Millions of Dollars to Grow a Start-up

In 2009, in order to build her organic baby food company, Shazi Visram raised $11 million--fast. Last year, HappyFamily Brands's sales hit $35 million.

Last updated: May 13, 2013

JILL KRASNY | Staff Writer | Staff Writer

Jill Krasny is a staff writer for Inc. magazine, where she covers the intersection of entertainment and startups. Prior to Inc., she was a writer for MTV and Esquire and an editor at TheStreet. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California with a degree in communication. She lives in New York City.




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