Another “Wellness” Company Gets VC Backing

Several regional newspapers, including the Rocky Mountain News, are reporting that Maveron, the venture capital firm co-founded by beleaguered Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz, just ponied up $16 million in NextFoods, an organic and natural food company in Boulder. Among the company’s newest products is GoodBelly, advertised as a “a fruit-based, dairy-free probiotic product” that ostensibly eases digestion and boosts immunity. (Mmm, hmm. I don’t know about you, but I just grew might thirsty!)

Maveron, which raised its last big ($200 million) fund in 2004, has never invested strictly in tech startups. Among its non-tech consumer investments are Potbelly Sandwich Works and a company that was acquired last year, Lucy Activewear, a chain of women’s fitness and apparel stores.

The deal more caught my attention because I’m seeing more and more of these “consumer wellness” investments, and a growing number of VCs has been telling me that they’re watching the space, and looking for opportunities. Longer term, I think that interest makes sense. I am wondering how the consumer wellness industry is going to fare over the next couple of years, though, as people feeling the recession’s impact make do with less complicated and more affordable options.