At the wheel of a technicolor orange-red Meyers Manx dune buggy, Steve McQueen blazed a trail of his own through the rugged sun-bleached landscape in the 1968 classic The Thomas Crown Affair. This white-knuckle ride instantly became a pop culture moment and debuted the Meyers Manx — the first true dune buggy — to automobile enthusiasts the world over.
Toward the end of 2020, a trailblazer of a new variety found himself steering the iconic vehicle into its next chapter. Phillip Sarofim, founder and CEO of Los Angeles-based Trousdale Ventures, acquired the Meyers Manx business, giving the ‘60s-era California icon a new lease on life. For this new chapter, Sarofim will serve as Chairman and celebrated automobile and industrial designer Freeman Thomas will serve as CEO.
“Maintaining the old and introducing the new is what lies ahead,” noted the late Bruce Meyers, the legendary creator of the Meyers Manx dune buggy. “We feel that Meyers Manx LLC can and will do just that. With faith in their desire to continue our legacy, the future will be brighter, happier, sunnier than ever, a wonderful rebirth for what we have created.”
Understanding that passionate individuals — and ultimately teams — that share the same values and vision are what catapult brands and businesses toward success is at the core of Trousdale Ventures. In contrast to many VC and investment firms, Trousdale Ventures takes a decidedly hands-on approach under the direction of Sarofim, who draws on his extensive interdisciplinary experience comprising acquisitions, financing, business management, and branding. Sarofim excels at curating from his network of entrepreneurs, creatives and innovators to lead synergistic teams of experienced industry pioneers and construct tailored ecosystems where enterprising ideas flourish.
From the start, Sarofim has been committed to investing in companies that help the end consumer. While his firm’s portfolio is diverse — boasting businesses from nutrition-forward baked goods to quantum photonic chips for augmented reality applications — the common denominator among Trousdale Ventures’ investments is that each is committed to empowering everyday individuals and improving lives.
With his eyes set on California-grown businesses, Sarofim has quietly carved out a compelling sector in the better-for-you business space for Trousdale Ventures. Lemon Perfect, the California-based enhanced water startup, is one such investment exemplifying the unique and sustainable purpose-driven brands about which Sarofim is passionate. Another disruptive wellness beverage hailing from Southern California, SkinTē is an innovator in the beauty and beverage space with its inventive sparkling tea formulations — the first ever to carbonate collagen. Santa Monica-based hair care brand Collective Laboratories is using science and traditional Chinese medicine to inform its nature-derived products, while Bougie Bakes is spearheading an overdue transformation in the snack foods industry, offering premium health-forward, ingredient-driven sweets that are nutritionist-approved.
At the heart of it, Sarofim is devoted to mission-driven brands and prioritizes the consumer’s health, happiness, and productivity at every step of life. Case in point, Trousdale Venture’s most recent investment, Brightside, is making evidence-based therapy and physician-prescribed medication more accessible to those who need it while destigmatizing mental health and reimagining a better healthcare system. Sarofim is also clear in his commitment to the education and wellbeing of children. EQtainment, the critically-acclaimed producer of high-quality children’s development entertainment determined to improve the world’s social and emotional skills, named Sarofim the Chairman of the Mental Health Initiative it launched last year. The initiative puts social emotional curricula in at-risk schools in every major city and matches sponsorships by donating mental health tools to kids and parents at home during the COVID-19 crisis.
These disruptive and differentiated brands share more than their California roots — they echo the Trousdale Ventures ethos of consumer-first products honoring a greater mission of self-care, sustainability, and making a positive shift in their respective industries.
Even for its investments that lie outside of California, Trousdale Ventures ensures the same drive and vision are evident in the DNA in each of the brands it takes on. Kitu Super Coffee, the wildly popular coffee drink that promotes sustained energy and wellness and is one of the fastest-growing private food and beverage companies in the country, epitomizes Sarofim’s desired blueprint for this burgeoning consumer-focused wellness space
So while Sarofim is quietly expanding Trousdale Ventures’ portfolio, we can anticipate him steering his business investments — and the better-for-you industry at large — into new promising terrain that honors the legacy of past successes while blazing new trails.
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