Chokola Bean to Bar, a Taos-based, family-owned craft chocolate maker, was among several northern New Mexico businesses to be awarded money from the Venture Acceleration Fund.
Chokala, located on Juan Largo Lane in Taos, is a national, award-winning, bean-to-bar chocolate maker focused on organic and small batch creations. Their award will be used to purchase equipment to increase capacity and reduce the time needed to meet demand from their growing market.
The Venture Acceleration Fund awards are managed by the Regional Development Corp. The RDC was established by Los Alamos National Laboratory operator Los Alamos National Security in 2006.
"This year's seven winners promise a lot of growth to our Northern New Mexico region," said Val Alonzo, executive director of the RDC, in a press release. "The seed capital that VAF provides is often critical to early-stage companies and helps create jobs in the area."
The 2018 Venture Acceleration Fund awardees represent a broad range of businesses. Others to receive the award besides Chokala include:
HoneyMoon Brewery, Santa Fe: pioneers of an innovative and proprietary fermentation technique, marrying the traditions of wine, beer, and kombucha brewing into a new adult beverage category. The company will use the funds to purchase and install brewing production equipment at the company's tasting room.
NeuroGeneces, LLC, Santa Fe: The funds will be used to pilot test the slow-wave sleep device developed by this company.
Rancho Manzanares, Río Arriba: This sustainable farming business specializes in pastured meat and will use the award to buy equipment for expanding their products.
Santa Fe Spirits, LLC, Santa Fe: Manufacturer of craft spirits including whiskey, vodka and gin. The funding will be used to purchase equipment to increase production and expand sales outside New Mexico.
Specifica, Inc., Santa Fe and Los Alamos: Developer of custom human antibody libraries for the biopharmaceutical industry.
Verde Food Company, Santa Fe: The organic café and manufacturer of cold-pressed juice will use the funds to purchase a delivery truck and increase distribution.
To date, the Venture Acceleration Fund program has assisted 66 New Mexico companies through marketing and technology development activities such as proof-of-concept, prototyping, developing market share, product launch or leveraging funding. Each award is a zero-interest loan. Companies only repay the loan if they are purchased, leave New Mexico within a certain time frame or fail to provide support to the Northern New Mexico startup community.
Originally created to commercialize technologies developed at the Laboratory, the Venture Acceleration Fund has diversified from exclusively funding technology companies to include businesses that manufacture and sell products outside New Mexico.