ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A new $350,000 investment could help two northern New Mexico “ski bums” feed a lot more outdoor enthusiasts with tasty, healthy snacks made by their Questa-based company Taos Bakes.
The New Mexico Angels contributed $220,000 in late April to help close out a new capital raise that existing investors began last fall to reach a $350,000 target, said Tim Wegener of Carouth Capital Partners, a Texas-based private equity firm that previously invested about $4 million in Taos Bakes. The new investment will help the firm expand its line of products and ramp up marketing efforts to broaden its consumer base.
Taos Bakes, which co-founders Kyle Hawari and Brooks Thostenson launched in 2014, has grown “exponentially” in recent years, more than tripling its sales from about $1 million in 2018 to a projected $3.5 million this year, said Wegener, who serves on the board.
“They have some great products that have become pretty popular,” Wegener told the Journal. “The co-founders are both from Dallas. They finished college and they love to ski, but they learned there are no good choices on the market to ski and eat energy bars outdoors, so they started making their own.”
The partners began baking in their own kitchen, then moved to a commercial kitchen in Taos, where they sold energy bars direct to consumers at markets. Then, in 2016, they moved the operation to a 10,000-square-foot facility at the Questa Business Park, which the town built with funding from Chevron Mining after that company closed its molybdenum operation there in 2014.
Funding from Carouth Capital helped the bakers — who originally called their company Taos Mountain Energy Bars — to fully equip the facility for commercial-scale production. In 2018, they rebranded to Taos Bakes. And in 2020, they expanded their products to offer a broader line of snacks, such as cilantro lime pistachios, sweet chile cashews and apple-spiced walnuts, which they package up as “CosmoNuts.”
The company prides itself on all-natural, oven-baked ingredients and preparation processes designed to maximize taste alongside healthy, nutritional content. It currently employs 20 people, with sales in major retail outlets like Whole Foods, King Soopers — a Kroger grocery store — and Natural Grocers. It also offers an online subscription service for regularly scheduled delivery to customers.
“All natural and baked are their distinguishing factors,” Wegener said. “It’s healthy, good for you and tastes great.”
NM Angels President Drew Tulchin said two “ski bums” who wanted a healthy energy bar have built their business into a successful, bustling operation, capturing investor enthusiasm.
“We’ve watched them grow over many years,” Tulchin told the Journal. “We’ve eaten their product and we like it. And we trust the entrepreneurs behind it.”