Aisha “Pinky” Cole‘s Slutty Vegan brand is now four-years-old with a whopping $100 million valuation.
For(bes) The Culture reported that Cole raised $25 million through a Series A funding round that directly contributed to the current value of the popular vegan burger chain.
With the funding, Cole is planning to expand her empire by opening 10 Slutty Vegan locations by the end of this year and an additional 10 in 2023. These locations include Brooklyn, Harlem, Birmingham, Alabama, Columbus, Georgia, and Athens, Georgia.
For her unbelievably rapid growth, the 34-year-old Baltimore native credits the expertise of her lead investors, entrepreneur Richelieu Dennis and restaurateur Danny Meyer. The funding round was led by Dennis’ New Voices Fund, which supports women of color businesses, and Meyer’s Enlightened Hospitality Investments, a strategic growth equity firm.
With this winning team, Cole gains insight from Dennis’ Sundial Brands, which makes products such as SheaMoisture and Nubian Heritage, and mentorship from Meyers, who created Michelin-starred restaurants and Shake Shack.
Cole learned the value of scaling a business that is unique from Meyers. “I got the Michael Jordan of food on my team,” Cole said.
“I had never seen vegan food presented in such a fun way,” said Meyer. “Leaders are often defined by the degree to which people want to follow them, and I saw people following the leader.”
Cole’s 100% plant-based burger joint is well-known for consistently adding thousands of new eaters to an already fast-moving revolution in vegan foods. According to Harlem World Magazine, 97% of the customers coming in for vegan burgers are meat-eaters. Cole hopes to serve salads and kids’ meals in the future.
As per For(bes), the four-year-old brand now has products ranging from kettle chips to CBD gummies, a shoe deal, a foundation, and an upcoming cookbook called Eat Plants Bitch. Cole also told the publication that a major grocery chain had ordered 60,000 units of Slutty Vegan dip, which features flavors like Bangin’ Hot-Lanta Chik’n. The dip can be found on shelves at Target.
Cole is determined “to build a billion-dollar brand.” Her vision continues to unfold as she aligns herself with seasoned and successful entrepreneurs.
“To have the New Voices Venture Fund and the GOAT of the restaurant industry, Danny Meyer himself, to have them a part of this team is a recipe for success,” Cole said, as per Harlem World Magazine. “I’m excited about the people I’m involved with.”
“It’s about partnering with these incredible entrepreneurs and their businesses to drive real scale and growth and create wealth for those founders,” said Dennis. “And that’s what Pinky has done here and continues to do.