Holey Grail Donuts started as a “Sunday ritual” for siblings Nile and Hana Dreiling, who served hand-fried taro donuts from a small red trailer in Kauai, Hawaii. This ritual quickly developed a cult following, leading to hour-long waits as early as 6:30 a.m. to sample donuts featuring more than 60 Hawaiian flavors made with local ingredients, such as organic taro, coconut, and cocoa.
Among the cult fans is professional skateboarder Tony Hawk, an entrepreneur in his own right as owner of skateboard brand Birdhouse. Hawk joined Holey Grail as an investor in the company’s recently completed Series A, which raised $9 million that will be put forward to expand to mainland Los Angeles locations.
Hawk recently shared more with Fortune of its decision to invest in the company.
- start: Holey Grail Donuts
- Location: Hanalei, Hawaii
- Year of foundation: 2018
- Evaluation: Refused to disclose
- Investment level: Series A
- Number of employees: 36
- Other major investors: Craig Shapiro at Collaborative Fund, Lee Fixel, Tony Conrad at True Ventures, James Freeman (Blue Bottle), Ligaya Tichy (Yelp, Airbnb) Christopher Kostow (Michelin-starred chef), Hass Hassan (Whole Foods), Stephan Jenkins (Third Eye Blind), Yves Behar (designer, Fuseproject) and Matt Mullenweg (WordPress)
Why he invested, in his own words
I’m always on the lookout for great things to eat, and I get especially excited when I see someone take a creative approach to a food I know and love. When I discovered Holey Grail Donuts, I was immediately intrigued. It represents everything I look for in the foods I love: good taste, first and foremost, but made with higher quality ingredients than your average donut. They are actively reinventing many aspects of the donut industry with a genuine approach to sourcing and production similar to some of my favorite cafes and restaurants.
For me to be excited enough to invest in a food company, the starting point is that the product tastes good. I’m also careful about what I put into my body, so the combination of tasting something delicious and knowing it’s made with high-quality ingredients that I don’t have to feel guilty about eating, is the perfect combination. Holey Grail donuts are made fresh for every order, so they’re warm and crispy, without being too oily or greasy.
They’re also made with taro, an ancient root crop grown in the tropics that’s rich in vitamins and antioxidants. And you won’t find the flavors of Holey Grail donuts anywhere else; they change their menu weekly using seasonal ingredients, so you’ll almost always try something new and different each time you visit. I still love a classic donut, but use seasonal local ingredients to create donut flavors like North Shore (local tangelo, turmeric, black pepper) and Lydgate Farms (local vanilla bean glaze topped with cocoa nibs and acerola cherry) is an experience worth seeking out.
Finally, as an investor, I ultimately look for companies that can grow and succeed. Location-specific food businesses can be tricky because some of the best places are those that reflect and support the communities in which they are located. Holey Grail has a mission-driven approach to growth which, combined with their outstanding donuts and team, I believe will drive them to success. They plan to stay true to their Kauai roots by sourcing certain ingredients like their taro from farmers in Hawaii and building their supply chain for local produce and ingredients wherever they go. This approach ensures that the donuts and the experience will always remain fresh and interesting. And I’m proud to be part of it.
This is an episode of Why I Invested, a series featuring famous investors from all different backgrounds and industries, revealing what inspired them to invest their own money in a new venture.