News and updates from the Garber Venture Capital Fund

Persea Naturals LLC gains funding from Penn State Smeal Garber Fund

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Persea Naturals LLC is pleased to announce that it has entered into a $100,000 financing agreement with the Penn State Smeal College of Business Garber Venture Capital Fund, as part of a funding selection process by MBA students in the Smeal College of Business.

“We are very excited to finalize this agreement with the Garber Fund,” said Persea Naturals LLC Chief Executive Officer Robert Hicks. “The roots of Persea Naturals lie at Penn State, and we are very grateful for the many resources within the university that continually contribute to our company’s progress.”

Persea Naturals LLC is developing commercial products derived from avocado seeds. The company’s initial product, AvoColor®, is a yellow-red food color that meets the needs of a rapidly changing color market by addressing demand for natural food colors. Compared to other natural color additives on the market, AvoColor® has demonstrated greater stability and has the potential to cover more than 50 percent of the color spectrum.

While the team at Persea Naturals works towards FDA approval of this novel natural food color additive, they continue to search for additional commercially viable compounds in avocados, with the goal of diverting all avocado seeds from U.S. landfills by 2030. 

The Garber Venture Capital Fund is one of the nation’s largest and most active student-centric venture funds. Established in 1999 with a generous endowment from Dr. John Garber and his wife Bette, this venture fund brings to reality the process of venture capital investing in start-up companies.

Second-year MBA students have the opportunity to engage in the venture capital process by enrolling in the entrepreneurial finance course Entrepreneurship 597. Entrepreneurs from several prospective companies pitch their business ideas to the class. From these prospects, students select the companies that are of greatest interest for investment consideration, and form teams to conduct due diligence of those companies during the seven-week course.

At the end of the course, the student teams present their findings and investment recommendations to their peers and vote on which of the companies, if any, warrant an investment of up to $100,000. The Garber Fund is administered by the Farrell Center for Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship as part of Smeal’s highly acclaimed entrepreneurship program in which students are immersed in real-life situations throughout their studies.

Updated Tuesday, May 12, 2020