After an energetic and dramatic debut at BevNET Live Summer 2011, BevNET reprised the “New Beverage Showdown” at our recent winter conference in Santa Monica. The beverage brand competition – developed in partnership with Coca-Cola’s Venturing and Emerging Brands (VEB) Unit – offers the founders of six new companies the opportunity to showcase their business plan and products in front of a panel of expert judges and over 400 entrepreneurs, retailers, distributors, and manufacturers.
The winner of the competition receives $5,000 in cash from VEB as well as valuable advertising and merchandising materials from BevNET and other BevNET Live sponsors.
Though a number of companies applied to take part in the competition, BevNET and VEB chose six new and unique brands — each offered a new spin through several different beverage categories: 82GO, a water packaged in a plastic “pouch”; HDX, a sports drink mix; Coco Café, a coffee/coconut water hybrid; Joia, a line of mixologist-inspired sodas; Jetway, a company that makes anti-jet lag functional beverages; and Runa, a ready-to-drink tisane made from the Guayusa plant.
Judging the Showdown were four beverage industry veterans: G. Scott Uzzell, the vice president and general manager of VEB; Ken Sadowsky, the senior beverage advisor for Verlinvest and executive director of the regional distribution organization NIDA; Tom First, the co-creator of Nantucket Nectars and now a managing partner at First Beverage Group; and Michael Quinones, a district manager for Ralph’s supermarkets.
Though the judges pared the competition down to three finalists, it was Coco Café that took home the cash and, of course, the glory of winning the New Beverage Showdown. Still, all of the presentations had merit – and bear a viewing as a guide to how companies can pitch products to gatekeepers.
Here are the first three presentations, from Joia, HDX, and Jetway; you’ll be able to view the remaining three tomorrow.
Video editing by Joshua Pratt.