Fortnite Champion Bugha And UFC Fighter Francis Ngannou Join PeaTos As New Stakeholders After Making Minority Investments


PeaTos, which is known as the healthy alternative to some of the largest puffed snack brands in the U.S., has received a six-figure investment from Fortnite streamer Bugha and UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou, making them the company’s latest stakeholders alongside NBA all-star Tracy McGrady.

The California-based snack company, owned by Nick Desai, has scaled significantly since its inception around 2017, and has expanded to nearly 5,000 retailers across the country, including Kroger KR -0.4%, Safeway, 7-Eleven, Costco, and most recently Sam’s Club.

Its latest deals came after PeaTos completed a $7 million series A funding led by Jackson Springs Management Partners and Connetic Ventures earlier this year, and subsequently launched a provocative digital campaign targeting Cheetos, a portfolio brand of PepsiCo’s PEP +0.4% Frito-Lay division.

Reaching three key audiences 

Desai told me how choosing partners to represent PeaTos is “a combination of art and science”, and he believes Bugha and Ngannou will help the brand reach more audiences, especially teenage gamers, families with children, and young professionals. 

“If you look at snacks, like Cheetos and Doritos, they are eaten by a huge percentage of the population,” Desai said. “What we did was we picked three key audiences that we thought would be the most important ones for us, and then looked for people, influencers and celebrities who have audiences within those segments.”

Ngannou, who hails from Cameroon, told me recently via Zoom about how he is encouraged to consume more than 3,000 calories per day for his training, which requires him to snack responsibly.

“Snacks can be tricky, so you have to be picky and find something healthy and non-addictive,” Ngannou said. “I partnered with PeaTos because we are connected [in terms of] living a healthy and balanced life.”

Bugha, whose real name is Kyle Giersdorf, notes how the negative stigma about gamers eating unhealthy snacks drove him to support PeaTos that contains more protein, fiber, and fewer calories per serving than Cheetos. 

“Since I stream for more than seven hours per day, I’m constantly picking at something to keep my energy up so I don’t get hungry,” Bugha wrote me via email. “Partnering with PeaTos is my way to promote a healthier snack option for gamers who play all day or fans that are watching their favorite streamers.”

He added: “It’s definitely something unique for a professional gamer and Twitch steamer like me to be part owner. I really want to see the company succeed in the long term, and I’m excited at the opportunity that’s a bit non-traditional.”

Revenues to double in 2021

Both Bugha and Ngannou are expected to help PeaTos convince retailers to explore further merchandising opportunities, in addition to boosting the brand’s consumer awareness by leveraging their social media influence.

“It helps them get comfortable with bringing more products, and maybe setting up additional displays to drive sales,” Desai noted, adding, however, it remains difficult to measure exactly how much revenues these partnerships will help generate directly. 

“It’s much easier if you place a Facebook ad, and to attribute sales to that [because] you can track it all the way through their websites,” he explained to me.

Desai expects PeaTos’ revenues to double in 2021, reaching $10 million in total.

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