Slutty Vegan Expanding with $25 Million in New Funding

Slutty Vegan Pinky Cole

Pinky Cole is on a mission to turn Slutty Vegan into a billion-dollar business. The four-year-old vegan company just secured $25 million in series A investment to help it achieve that aim. New Voices Fund (owned by ethical commerce pioneer Richelieu Dennis) and Enlightened Hospitality Investments led the round (owned by restaurateur Danny Meyer).

“I got the Michael Jordan of food on my team,” Cole said of Meyer joining her company as an investor in For(bes) the Culture. Meyer is most known for building his popular fast-food franchise Shake Shack, which Cole views as a valuable asset to her expanding company.

Cole plans to utilize some of the $25 million in capital to establish 10 new Slutty Vegan restaurants by the end of the year and another 10 by the end of 2023.

Slutty Vegan burgers at Shake Shack

Meyer’s investment in Slutty Vegan comes after he collaborated with Cole last year to bring her idea to Shake Shack’s “Now Serving” pop-up series, which benefits local charities through collaborations with local chefs throughout the country.

The SluttyShack included a Shake Shack veggie burger topped with Pinky’s special Slut Dust, lemon ginger kale, caramelized onions, vegan ranch, and vegan mayo on Slutty Vegan’s famous toasted Hawaiian bread for a very short time at Harlem and Atlanta locations of Shake Shack.

Despite the fact that this cooperation was short-lived, Meyer was affected by Cole’s presence beyond the pop-up. “I had never seen vegan food presented in such a fun way… Leaders are often defined by the degree to which people want to follow them, and I saw people following the leader,” Meyer told For(bes) the Culture.

Slutty Vegan’s Empire

Cole launched Slutty Vegan as a food truck in 2018, attracting hours-long lineups of people eager to be “sluttified” by eating her delicious plant-based burgers. Slutty Vegan currently has four locations in Georgia, and the fifth will debut this weekend in the college town of Athens, GA. Brooklyn, NY and Birmingham, AL are the initial out-of-state locations planned, with many more to follow.

Tyler Perry, Usher, Missy Elliot, and Shaquille O’Neal, who recently hailed Slutty Vegan for helping him substitute beef with a healthier choice, are among the celebrities who have visited the show.

Cole’s Slutty Vegan has become a true phenomenon, with a rising number of eateries, retail items like dips, and branded collaborations, such as a cooperation with snack company Rap Snacks that resulted in various flavor releases. Cole’s first book, Eat Plants, B*tch, will be out in November, and she’s also working on a shoe deal.

As much as her company is about food and entertainment, Cole is also committed to empowering people of color through her Pinky Cole Foundation. The tasty cuisine and the potential effect of sponsoring a Black woman-owned company are both appealing to prospective investor Dennis.

“It’s about partnering with these incredible entrepreneurs and their businesses to drive real scale and growth and create wealth for those founders… And that’s what Pinky has done here and continues to do. This new round of investments will rapidly transform not just the vegan restaurant industry but will drive an incredible amount of health initiatives and food options for the Black community that may not have existed yet,” Dennis told For(bes) the Culture.

Since its inception, the nonprofit has taken on a number of initiatives, including paying the tuition balances of 30 Clark Atlanta University students in an effort to help them stay in school; paying overdue electricity and gas bills of struggling families during Atlanta’s COVID-19 lockdowns; paying the rent for small businesses in the Metro-Atlanta area to keep them afloat during the pandemic; and providing employment and paid training to formerly incarcerated youth throughout the pandemic.

Cole’s company is now valued at $100 million thanks to the fresh $25 million in investment. “When people see that you are not only building a profitable company, but you are building an ecosystem, people respect that… They continue to want to support you. It feels so good to know that level of growth can come beyond money, and funnel back out to our communities,” Cole told Inc.

Source: “SLUTTY VEGAN NOW HAS $25 MILLION TO EXPAND VEGAN EMPIRE WITH HELP FROM SHAKE SHACK’S DANNY MEYER” by VegNews

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