Slutty Vegan is now valued at $100 million after the vegan food brand’s founder Pinky Cole raised $25 million in Series A funding, according to Forbes. About six years ago, Cole’s first eatery in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood went up in flames. She watched as a grease fire destroyed her restaurant in 2016. Cole had cashed out her 401K and took a loan from a family friend to open the eatery in 2014.
To make matters worse, the damage from the fire was not covered by the proper form of insurance. Six years down the line, the Jamaican American is back on her feet with a successful business venture. Prior to her latest moves, she returned to the world of TV as a producer and casting director for more than two years after the fire. However, in 2018, Cole was ready to enter the business world again with a new startup, according to CNBC Make It.
She ventured into the vegan industry as a side hustle. A vegan for a decade, she named her new venture “Slutty Vegan.” She ran the business for four months in a shared commercial kitchen and was subsequently fired from her day job for focusing too much on her new business. She then expanded Slutty Vegan to include a food truck, and then to her first brick-and-mortar location in January 2019.
Now the vegan food brand owner has been able to raise $25 million in a Series A funding round, making her four-year-old brand valued at $100 million. Her lead investors were Sundial Brands founder Richelieu Dennis and restaurateur Danny Meyer. Dennis is also behind the New Voices Fund, a growth equity initiative he unveiled in 2015 to help Black women grow their businesses. He tried out Slutty Vegan after hearing about it from others.
“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 Forbes.
Cole is also excited to have Meyer on her team. Meyer, who got to know about Cole last August, has created Michelin-starred restaurants and a successful fast-food chain in Shake Shack, according to Forbes. “I got the Michael Jordan of food on my team,” said Cole. Meyer “has proven that you can scale a business, and it can be unique,” she added.
With the latest round of funding, Cole plans to open up 10 additional Slutty Vegan restaurants by the end of the year. She also hopes to add another 10 locations in 2023 and expand her team by adding a chief operating officer and chief marketing officer.
Cole, whose parents are Jamaican immigrants, hopes to use her vegan restaurant to build generational wealth for her family and others in the Black community. Recently, she said she was confident of making Slutty Vegan a billion-dollar brand in the next few years. Beyond making money, the 34-year-old is also a philanthropist. She is the founder of Pinky Cole Foundation, a nonprofit aimed at empowering generations of color to win in life, financially, and in the pursuit of their entrepreneurial dreams.