By John Craven and John McKenna
A partnership between BevNET.com and Zenith International saw
the launch of a new era in beverage industry conferences last week when they
co-hosted InnoBev U.S. at the Parker Meridien Hotel in New York City.
The sold-out event drew an audience of about 140 industry
professionals and novices for networking between presentations from some of the
most prominent names in the industry.
Jones Soda Co. founder Peter Van Stolk explained how and why
to embrace internet viral marketing. Sweet Leaf Tea founder Clayton Christopher
told the story of his company’s growth from a business operated out of his kitchen
to a Whole Foods staple, and BevNET’s own Jeff Klineman spoke about what
Innovation in the beverage sector really means to consumers – and a beverage company’s bottom line.
While the speakers fielded questions after their
presentations, the schedule also dedicated nearly an hour to a question-and-answer
session with an innovator panel. O Water CEO Tom First, Inov8 CEO Mike Weinstein,
Cascadia Consultant Bill Sipper, Wild Flavors Vice President Dr. Erik Dowhowe
and Consultant Jim Tonkin answered questions that ranged from how a young
company can best get its product into the market to how to manage the growth of
After the Q and A and a buffet lunch, a trio of brave
beverage marketers pitched their brands to InnoBev’s “Dragon’s Den” of
distributors. Lewis Hershkowitz of Big Geyser, Gerry Martin of Polar Beverages,
Ken Davis of Davis Beverage and Tim Sperry, formerly of Whole Foods took
critical looks at SoNu, Cell-Nique and Pixie Mate. They assessed the brands’
high and low points, and gave everyone a glimpse into how distributors choose
Other speakers included Kristjan and Jon Olafsson of
Icelandic Glacial, Greg Steltenpohl of Odwalla and Adina, Wolfgang
Reichenberger of Inventages venture capital fund, and Andres Padilla, Bill
Bruce, and Ross Colbert of Zenith international.
Check back with BevNET.com and BevNET’s print publications
for additional material from the event.