NEW BEVERAGE SHOWDOWN 17: YOUR BEVERAGE IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Gain Awareness and Feel Like an Industry Celebrity
Pitch your brand to industry movers and shakers and benefit from heavy exposure before, during, and after the conference. Build the momentum needed to approach key retailers and investors, and meet strategic partners with ideas to take your brand to the next level.
Go Next Level with Newfound Knowledge and Partners
Hear from trailblazers that have been there and know the path the success. Be approached by attendees reacting to your product and pitch. Hear what others are doing and fuel ideas for your own business plan.
Test Your Mettle Against the Next Big Brands in the Market
Compete against the top new beverage brands. Get asked the tough questions and see if you have the answers. Receive two rounds of valuable feedback from an expert judging panel.
Everything You Need to Know
New Beverage Showdown Champions
What Past Competitors Are Saying
"The New Beverage showdown was a great experience. It provided insightful feedback from industry experts, and helped open doors to vital resources to help us continue to grow our brand. Most importantly, we had a blast!" - Stephen Ellsworth, Co-Founder, Mother Beverage, New Beverage Showdown 12 Winner
"Being a part of the BevNET Live 2015: New Beverage Showdown helped create brand awareness for MALK within the beverage industry. Many doors opened from raw materials to distribution after our participation. For any new beverage business looking to make the right connections, I would highly recommend participating in this amazing event!" - August Vega, CEO, MALK, New Beverage Showdown 10 Winner
"Winning Bevnet's New Beverage Showdown has given RAU the highlighted exposure necessary to develop strong supply chain, distribution and national marketing relationships." - Daren Meyers, Co-Founder, RAU, New Beverage Showdown 9 Winner
"We approached the BevNET New Beverage Showdown with the sole intent of winning it all. That caused us to sharpen up in every way and to really question all aspects of the business, because we’d have to ace live presentations to industry experts. That self-evaluation truly helped us on our path to understanding the “what,” “how,” and “why” behind Health-Ade at a critical time in our growth." - Justin Trout, Co-Founder & COO, Health-Ade Kombucha, New Beverage Showdown 6 Winner
Past Showdown Judges
Founder & CEO, Presence Marketing
Bill started working in a natural food store when he was 16 and began reading books on nutrition and healthy living at a fervent pace. Paavo Airola, Norman Walker and Paul Bragg were some of the early natural food enthusiasts who influenced his lifestyle choices, along with the inimitable Dr. John R. Christopher, an early pioneer in herbal medicine. After nearly a dozen years of working in the Natural Products Industry, in varied roles within the sales and retail sectors, he launched Presence Marketing in January, 1990. He is surrounded by a dedicated cast of creative and intelligent people who carry out the mission of bringing healthy products to consumers, with great energy, passion, and resolve. With nearly 35 years of industry experience, he is uniquely qualified to lead Presence Marketing/Dynamic Presence during booming as well as unstable economic times. His passion for sustainable agriculture, healthy foods and integrated medicine are key drivers behind his commitment to continue building Presence Marketing/Dynamic Presence, the only independently owned, national - natural products brokerage in the United States.
Managing Partner, First Beverage Group
Nicole joined First Beverage Group in 2014 and leads the firm's investment banking efforts. Nicole has over 15 years of investment banking and corporate development experience and has extensive background providing financial advisory services to middle market companies, including mergers and acquisition transactions, debt and equity capital raising, restructurings and valuations. Some of Nicole's recent beverage clients have included Argo Tea, GoodBelly, Carolina Beverage Group and mix1 Beverage Company. Prior to joining First Beverage, Nicole was a Managing Director in the consumer investment banking group at Imperial Capital, where she led Imperial's efforts in the beverage, food and restaurant sectors. Nicole also worked in the investment banking divisions of Bank of America and Citigroup. Nicole also spent time managing the corporate development activities for Cooking.com, an online retailer of cooking-related products and a trusted source of online culinary content. Nicole received her B.A. in Economics and an M.B.A. from UCLA, where she competed in cross-country and track and field. Nicole also holds a graduate diploma in Economics from the London School of Economics. Nicole grew up in Southern California and currently lives in Manhattan Beach with her husband and two boys.
President and General Manager, Zico
Tom Larsen has been president and general manager of ZICO since 2014. ZICO is part of the Venturing & Emerging Brands unit of Coca-Cola. Prior to joining ZICO, Larsen served as general manager of illy, a ready-to-drink coffee business, which is also part of VEB. Larsen spent five years leading the illy venture. Larsen is a Coca-Cola veteran whose previous roles include serving as vice president of Minute Maid Europe Operations, where he led the development of a holistic juice beverage strategy and capability across 45 countries. He also served as manager director of Caribbean/Export Minute Maid International, where he was responsible for leading sales and marketing for Minute Maid Caribbean, Export, South Africa and business development. Larsen, who is based at ZICO’s headquarters in El Segundo, Calif., is a graduate of Arizona State University.
Grocery Merchandising Coordinator, CSD, Kroger
In 2000, Andrea began her career with Kroger in Raleigh, NC, as a Management trainee. A couple of years later, she was promoted to Store Manger where she went on to manage several stores in the Raleigh area. In 2007, Andrea joined the Human Resources Team as the Division Recruiter for Management. Andrea recruited for Kroger’s Mid-Atlantic division until she was promoted to the Benefits and Administration manager. After working in this position for several years, Andrea had the opportunity to work in the Produce Department as a Sales Plan Manager. Then, in early 2012, Andrea was able to gain further knowledge of the operational side of the business when she was promoted to District Operations Coordinator. Andrea accepted a position as the District Manager in Little Rock, Arkansas in 2012. In 2016, Andrea joined the General Office team as a Division Promotional Coordinator. While working as a DPC, she worked very closely with the Louisville and King Soopers divisions. She was named to her current role in 2016.
Vice President, Strategy and Venturing, VEB Coca-Cola
Jim is a 22-year veteran of The Coca-Cola Company -- having spent 18 of those years within Mergers and Acquisitions. Most recently, Jim has been responsible for M&A activity in the European Union – including the relationship development, minority stakes, and eventual full acquisition of Innocent, as well leading the Coca-Cola European Partners bottling deal. He was also part of the initial creation of Coca-Cola Bottlers Africa and part of the Monster transactions. He has closed more than $30-billion in transaction value around the world. Jim serves on the Board of Directors of Equatorial Coca-Cola Bottling Company, which is headquartered in Barcelona and covers 11 West African markets. He holds an undergraduate degree from Georgia State University and an MBA from the Goizueta Business School at Emory University.
Managing Director, Alliance Consumer Growth Fund
As a co-founder and managing partner of ACG, Trevor enjoys providing a unique level of partnership and capital to entrepreneurs with consumer businesses poised for compelling growth. He has years of experience investing in the consumer industry and executing a variety of financial transactions. Trevor currently serves on the board of Ripple Brand Collective, maker of barkTHINS Snacking Chocolate. He previously served on the board of Phil's Fresh Foods, maker of EVOL-branded frozen food products, which was acquired by Boulder Brands.
COO, Big Geyser
Jerry Reda is the Chief Operating Officer of Big Geyser Inc. one of the largest and most influential beverage distributors in the country. He is an extremely hard working, high energy and competitive individual that loves the beverage business 7/24. Since 1986 Big Geyser has been building brands and helping to shape beverage trends not only in New York but throughout the entire country. In 2015 Big Geyser made a bold decision to sell back the distribution rights of Glaceau to the Coca-Cola company. Every day since then, Big Geyser has put its brand building team into overdrive working hard to assist in developing high powered brands such as BodyArmor, Brew Dr., Core, Essentia, Hal’s NY Seltzer, Hint, OWYN, Soylent, Sparkling Ice, Spindrift and many other brands. Big Geyser is in the process of re-defining the beverage landscape in New York and quite possibly throughout the United States. Beverage trends often begin in New York and Big Geyser has the ability to put new brands on the map and take existing brands to proverbial “next level”. The compnay has been moving in the direction of “Healthier for You” Zero Calorie, Lower Calorie and functional beverages. The companies main competitors derive the majority of their sales from sugary, artificially sweetened or artificially flavored beverages. Many industry experts feel that Big Geyser’s portfolio is a glimpse into the future of the N/A beverage business throughout our country.
Managing Partner, AccelFoods
Jordan Gaspar is a Managing Partner of AccelFoods, an early-stage venture capital firm investing in consumer products. Jordan co-founded the fund in 2014 with the intention of offering entrepreneurs a unique perspective and approachable capital to help them build their businesses. With $40M under management and 34 portfolio companies and growing, AF operates as a hands-on partner working with entrepreneurs to bring innovative, high-quality food and beverage products to the forefront of the industry and create the next generation of enduring brands. Jordan oversees deal origination, structure and investment execution on behalf of AF, as well as heads up strategy, investor relations and general management of the fund. Prior to founding AF, Jordan was an attorney at Morrison Cohen LLP where she advised venture and private equity firms and their portfolio companies on acquisitions, sales, mergers, and financings. She also served as a Managing Director of Golden Seeds, a national angel network that invests in women-run companies. Jordan graduated from Columbia College and received her J.D. from Fordham Law School. A New York City native, Jordan currently resides there with her husband, son, and daughter. She is constantly on the hunt for unique, purse friendly snacks for her kids.
Sr. Beverage Advisor, Verlinvest
Ken Sadowsky is known by insiders in the beverage business as “the beverage whisperer” for having an incredible track record of investing in and advising many of the fastest-growing and most successful new beverages over the last 20 years, including Glaceau/VitaminWater, VitaCoco, and Bai. Prior to becoming a prominent investor and advisor in the industry, Ken was a principal of Atlas Distributing Inc., overseeing the non-alcoholic beverage division that he developed. The division was founded in 1988 and sales were $50k that year. In 2007, sales were over $16 million and the total company sales were in excess of $75 million.
Director of Business Ventures, Albertsons
Karen Ivanis-Rogers is the Director of Business Ventures at Albertsons. In her over 20-year career in CPG, Karen has held roles with Johnson & Johnson, Nestle, Clorox and Del Monte. She has been on the retailer side two years in her current role with Albertsons working with emerging food and beverage brands. She’s intrigued by the pace and diversity of innovation in beverage but admits to Diet Dr Pepper as a guilty pleasure. Karen graduated from Gonzaga University and received an MBA from UC Irvine. She lives in the Oakland Hills.
Former Senior Category Manager, Whole Foods Market
Matt Jimenez is the former Senior Category Leader for Whole Foods Market's global grocery team. In his combined 12 years with the company, he held senior leadership positions in category management and retail merchandising on both the national and regional scale. Matt has also held leadership positions in product development, trade management and team building for both small and large portfolio brands. In his current role, Matt leads Whole Foods Market’s dairy and beverage businesses and supports the purchasing evolution for the non-perishables product teams. He's passionate about discovering and preparing brands for market, and in his spare time donates his industry expertise to advising emerging food companies. During his tenure at Whole Foods, Matt has launched a multitude of exclusive product lines within center store. In addition to product development, he has also worked with industry leaders to define standards for domestic fair trade ingredients, compostable packaging initiatives, sustainable palm oil sourcing and grass fed dairy inputs. As a 2016 Global Support All Star award recipient from Whole Foods Market, Matt was recognized as being a foundational leader for the company.
Founder/CEO, Flood Creative
Founder, CEO of Flood Creative, an award winning branding agency Located in Irvington, NY. Paula's story and Flood's story are one in the same. After designing for more traditional agencies in London and New York in her early career, Paula was given the amazing opportunity to help build a brand from scratch as a co-founder and investor. She left her design job and co-founded a beverage company in 2001. After 5 years of hard work and lots of lessons in brand building, the brands, Fuze and NOS energy sold to Coca-Cola. The experience changed her view of what design can accomplish and more importantly, gave her an empathy and insight for marketing that no other agency role could provide. Flood has grown a lot over the years and the team continues to use the fundamental learnings from this experience to effect both new and established brands. In addition to the continued effort of innovating and building brands...most recently, BodyArmor Sports Drink and Core Hydration, Paula enjoys sharing her expertise by speaking and contributing to the branding community. She is also on the executive board of AIGA Brand Central and visits Parson's and other campuses in NY to share her insights.
Senior Manager, Category Management - Fresh, Jet.com
Kerrie Lopez is a category lead for Jet.com's fresh business, focused on dairy, beverage, and cross-category initiatives such as managing the artisanal and local food assortment. She has also been part of the original team bringing Jet's first private brands to market. Prior to joining Jet (which was acquired by Walmart in September 2016) Kerrie managed the makeup and private brand categories at Birchbox, strategically sourcing samples for the monthly beauty subscription box as well as full-size product for the rapidly growing e-commerce site. Kerrie lives in New York City with her husband and their dog, Maisie.
CEO & Founder, BevNET
As founder and CEO of BevNET, John Craven is a widely-recognized authority on the beverage industry and he is frequently cited in mainstream media. His vision shapes the editorial, publishing, and positioning of all of BevNET's properties, including BevNET.com, BevNET Magazine, Brewbound.com, BevNET FBU and their associated conferences. John is a graduate of Boston College with a BS in Marketing and Computer Science.
Managing Partner, Boulder Investment Group Reprise
Carole Buyers is a Managing Partner at Boulder Investment Group Reprise (BIGR) a venture fund that invests in early-stage natural and organic food & beverage companies. Carole has been involved with investments & the natural foods industry for over 20 years. As one of the first analysts to cover Whole Foods, she has had a front row seat as the story of this now powerful sector has emerged. Carole has worked with RBC Capital on the sell-side and The Boston Company on the buy-side. In 2008, she left financial services, taking a leadership role in corporate finance and investor relations with Gaiam. In 2010, Carole joined Boulder Brands, Inc., to lead Investor Relations & Business Development. At Boulder Brands, Carole was responsible for the Company’s investor relations program, managing relationships and communications with the investment community. In addition, Miss Buyers managed mergers and acquisitions for Boulder Brands and identified and led the processes to acquire Udi’s, Glutino and EVOL. These acquisitions marked the initiation of the transformation of Boulder Brands to the natural foods powerhouse it is today. Carole was also one of three Directors of the Boulder Brands Investment Group (BBIG), an incubator fund which provided minority capital and helped natural food & beverage companies accelerate sustainable growth in the natural foods channel. Carole also enjoys time with her husband and children, music, yoga, running, tennis and golf.
Gigi Lee Chang
Managing Partner, BFY Capital
Gigi Lee Chang is a Managing Partner at BFY Capital, a privately owned financing company focused on providing highly structured term debt to “better for you” consumer brands in the food, beverage and beauty sectors to support growth activities with minimal dilution. Prior to joining BFY, she was the Managing Director of FoodFutureCo, an accelerator helping mission driven entrepreneurs working across the food space. Gigi is the Founder of Plum Organics and was also the CEO of the national children's environmental health non-profit Healthy Child Healthy World. Named one of the top women leaders in the "future of food" by Forbes in 2017 and a top dealmaker and influencer in consumer food and beverage by CircleUp in Dec 2016, Gigi is a frequent speaker on social enterprise, sustainability, impact investing and entrepreneurship. Recent speaking engagements include Nutrition Capital Network, SXSW, FoodVision, FoodTank Summit, EscaBona, and FounderMade. She is an advisor and mentor to numerous early stage companies and currently serves on the Friends Board of Good+ Foundation and the Advisory Boards of the Good Food Initiative of Arabella Advisors and the B Corp Force for Good Fund.