Rugby player Rob Kearney and Voxpro founders Dan and Linda Kiely have invested a combined €250,000 in Irish start-up Snack Farm, with the former Leinster and Ireland full back also joining the company as its director of wellbeing.
Mr Kearney, who recently announced plans to finish his career with the Western Force in Australian Super Rugby, will serve as a board member of Snack Farm and be involved in new product development.
Founded in June 2019 by Mishka and Padraig Staunton, Snack Farm produces healthy snack mixes packed with natural fruits, seeds, nuts and pulses. Prior to the Covid crisis the start-up was supplying top tech companies such as Facebook, Google and LinkedIn with its products. It has since switched to selling goods via its website to both businesses and consumers. The company is looking to expand its healthy snacking products range in 2021.
Mr Kearney, whose other investments include recruitment company Mason Alexander, told The Irish Times he had been a fan of Snack Farm prior to deciding to back the start-up financially.
“I’m at the stage in my own journey where I’m moving away from those brand-ambassador type roles where you’re just front and centre plugging a brand, and am now focused on putting my money where my mouth is and getting actively involved with companies where I also play a role in its future direction,” he said.
“I’m very much someone able to live and breathe the product because snacking is always something that I’ve struggled with during my sporting career as I’m not a particularly good eater but need to take a lot of calories in. In moments when I’ve been under prepared I’ve been guilty of eating junk food and so having access to healthy snacking products that are filling but also have all the right nutrients is something I’ve welcomed.”
Mr Staunton, Snack Farm’s chief executive, said Mr Kearney would bring a “unique perspective to management”.
“Having an individual with Rob’s experience in the world of wellbeing and highest-level sports performance is an incredible addition to our team,” he said
For the Kielys, who co-founded process-outsourcing company Voxpro, which was acquired by Telus International in a $150 million deal, Snack Farm is one of a number of deals the couple have backed. Others include Cork-based co-working hub Republic of Work, alternative legal solutions company Johnson Hana, and remote-work platform Abadoo.
“The world of work has undergone a dramatic and forced change over the last year and what impressed us was not only the ability of Snack Farm to completely change their strategy and business model, but to survive and thrive – using the crisis to help fuel innovation,” Mr Kiely said.