BevNET Live | Winter 2017 | Speakers
President & CEO, Peet's Coffee
Dave joined Peet's Coffee as President and Chief Executive Officer in January 2013. He leads the company’s 5,000 employees and business across all channels—Retail, CPG, Food Service, Office, and eCommerce. Prior to joining the company, he served as President of North America for Weight Watchers International, where he led the company’s $1.3 Billion business and 20,000 employees. During his three-year tenure, he strengthened the brand and broadened its relevancy with new advertising campaigns, a modernized retail experience, and launched a new B2B/Healthcare business. Dave spent the prior 20 years at PepsiCo, and was the first person ever to ascend to CMO for Pepsi-Cola North America from an entry-level marketing position. In this position, he led all brand marketing, product and packaging innovation, digital marketing, consumer promotions, sports marketing and consumer insights. Dave received an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA in History, cum laude, from Middlebury College. He lives in the Bay Area with his wife, their four children and two rambunctious golden retrievers. When not at the office, he enjoys coaching his children in lacrosse and often escapes to Lake Tahoe to indulge in the occasional snowboarding. Favorite Peet’s beverage: Cafe au Lait.
Founder & CEO, Hint Inc.
CEO & Founder, Brew Dr. Kombucha
CEO & Co-Founder, La Colombe
Todd Carmichael is the co-founder and CEO of La Colombe Coffee, a premier coffee roaster and retailer. Carmichael has lived and breathed coffee for over three decades. By pressing the limits of taste, service, and most notably, coffee sourcing – visiting the world’s developing countries to responsibly gather the planet’s best coffee – Todd has converted the nation’s culinary elite into La Colombe drinkers. Along the way, he has made his company the country’s leading coffee roaster while managing it philanthropically. Fueled by Todd’s passion to push the U.S. coffee scene forward, La Colombe sits at the forefront of the ethical trade movement and regularly dabbles in new terrain, inventing ground-breaking new brewing devices and beverages, such as the first ever Draft Latte. He is also the host of two Travel Channel series, “Dangerous Grounds” and “Uncommon Grounds.”
COO and Co-Founder, Distill Ventures
As Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Distill Ventures, the world’s first and only independent drinks accelerator investing in alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks, Dan leverages his years of beverage and startup experience to identify the best and brightest entrepreneurs who have the potential to redefine the drinks industry. Distill Ventures, founded in 2013, provides a unique platform to help founder lead businesses grow and succeed in markets around the world and has committed more than $61 million to over 15 founder-led brands. As an early-stage investor in the world’s first distilled non alcoholic spirit, Seedlip, the Distill Ventures team believe that the non alcohol category is one of the biggest opportunities in the bar & restaurant world today. In the session, Dan plans to share what we think is driving the growth and interest in this space as well as how Distill Ventures defines this emerging category.At Distill Ventures, Dan travels globally to identify founders who are recreating the drinks industry while sharing his expertise with the beverage trade at major events around the world. Day to day, he is equally focused on nurturing DV’s existing portfolio of brands while growing the company and its global reach. His deep experience in sales and marketing coupled to an encyclopedic knowledge of the drinks world, means he can help create brilliant sales strategies and trade marketing activations that shift the dial.
Co-Founder, President and CEO, Chameleon Cold-Brew
As the Co-Founder and CEO of Chameleon Cold-Brew, Chris Campbell is committed to creating bad-ass organic cold-brew and coffee, while staying true to its Austin roots. Since the initial launch of the flagship Cold-Brew Black Coffee Concentrate in 2010, the brand has seen triple digit growth every year, solidifying its position as the nation’s top organic cold brew. The product portfolio continues to expand with the recent launch of Whole Bean coffee and Cold-Brew Pods. Prior to founding Chameleon, Campbell served as a vice president at Capital Hotel Management and spent eight years at PricewaterhouseCoopers specializing in real estate finance for the hospitality industry. Campbell holds an MBA from the Jesse H. Jones School at Rice University and an undergraduate degree from The University of Texas at Austin. In his downtime, Chris is an avid outdoorsman, partial to fly fishing, cycling, and hiking.
EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer, 7-Eleven, Inc.
Jesus H. Delgado-Jenkins is the executive vice president and chief merchandising officer for 7-Eleven, Inc. In this role, he is responsible for the company’s merchandising operations, category management, new product introduction, new category and profit center development, store sets, marketing and merchandise communications, and fresh foods. He also is a member of 7-Eleven’s executive committee. He brings a wealth of leadership and convenience store expertise to 7-Eleven® stores from a variety of senior management positions. Most recently, Delgado-Jenkins was the president and CEO of JNI, LLC, a convenience store-acquisition company. Prior to JNI, he served as the chief financial officer and deputy chief operating officer for the U.S. Treasury Department.
VP of Merchandising, Natural Foods, Kroger
Co-Founder & CEO, Califia Farms
VP, Product and Brand Strategy, JUST Goods Inc.
Tenured senior executive with over a decade of specialty and natural food industry experience. Most recently, was award-winning leader of the Grocery division (dry goods, dairy, frozen, bulk) of the Northeast Region of Whole Foods Market (33 stores in NY, NJ & CT). Responsible for purchasing, operations and P&L for the department generating highest revenue in the region and highest revenue/store in the company.
EVP of Sales, La Colombe
To those in the food and beverage industry, Kyle O’Brien is considered a modern-day visionary. He has a unique ability to identify great entrepreneurs and industry-changing products before they launch and help bring them to market. From Greek yogurt, to sliced and bagged apples, Kyle has carved an impressive notch across the food and beverage landscape. His approach is simple: combine natural ingredients, innovation, and a human element to yield market giants and epic brands. At 22 years old, O’Brien first focused his talent alongside a young entrepreneur whose plan it was to preserve sliced apples by using natural ingredients, such as Vitamin C, and suspending them in gas-flushed, breathable pouches. Kyle then pitched it to accounts from McDonalds to major school districts across the country, and the rest is history. O’Brien then met another talented craftsman, Hamdi Ulukaya, and was introduced to his yet-to-launch Greek yogurt company, Chobani, which would fundamentally change the world of yogurt. As a Partner and EVP of Sales, O'Brien built the sales and distribution structure and grew the business from its first cup into America’s #1 selling yogurt, capturing nearly 40% market share. His drive and commitment didn’t stop there, and O’Brien is not one to retire early. Next, O’Brien identified a new category-changing product and visionary entrepreneur, the Draft Latte, invented by Todd Carmichael, Co-Founder and CEO of La Colombe. O'Brien seamlessly assumed the role of Executive Vice President of Sales at La Colombe and immersed himself in the product and culture. Within months, he assembled a sophisticated nation-wide logistics, brokerage, and distribution network, paving the way for La Colombe’s Draft Latte to assume its position on every shelf and refrigerated case in America.
Kevin Rutherford is the President and CEO (Chief Eternal Optimist) of nuun and Company headquartered in Seattle, Washington. He joined nuun in December of 2013. In his first year Kevin led the company to 30 percent growth and record setting revenue celebrating the brands 10 th anniversary. That growth was accelerated in 2015 growing an additional 40 percent on another banner year. This was led by across the board category growth in sports specialty, grocery and the natural space including the brands entrance into every Whole Foods in the country. In 2016 Kevin led the overhaul of the entire nuun line to 100% plant-based ingredients also certified as vegan and gluten free. And, in April of 2017 the brand launched the first sports drink product that is both Non-GMO Project Verified and Informed-Choice Safe for Sport. The focus on product purity has ushered in continued financial success and in Kevin’s first three years the brand grew by over 150%. Rutherford brought an impressive 18-year CPG marketing background to nuun. Previously, Kevin was President and CEO of Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day (The Caldrea Company) where he successfully grew the business by over 85 percent and was awarded Target’s Vendor of the Year 2012. Prior to Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day, Rutherford was Director of Marketing for Kashi Co. (subsidiary of Kellogg, Co.) where he managed the Bear Naked brands, successfully innovating the product line from granola into energy bars, cereal, and cookies. Kevin also worked for Miller Brewing Company as senior brand manager on the Miller Genuine Draft (MGD) business. He was responsible for re-launching MGD Light into MGD 64, considered one of the most successful launches for conventional beers in the last 10 years. Prior to MGD, Rutherford was a Senior Brand Manager at S.C. Johnson, Inc. where he managed a $200 million home cleaning product business. Rutherford started his career as a grocery-merchandising manager at Loblaw Co. Inc., the largest grocery retailer in Canada. Rutherford is a values based, mission driven, hands on leader. He communicates the biggest accomplishment of his career as Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day being selected for the Outside “Best Places to Work “ in 2012. He is personally driven towards living a healthy, active lifestyle and being a steward for the environment and sustainable living.
Founder, McGinn eCommConsulting
McGinn eCommConsulting provides expertise in eCommerce strategy for CPG companies ranging from launch stage to $3 billion in sales. With over 11 years of experience with Amazon.com and other strategic eCommerce partners, Betsy works with clients on launch and business optimization strategy, product and pack develop, problem resolution and ongoing management of their eCommerce business. With eight years of eCommerce leadership at Seventh Generation, Betsy provides a unique perspective through the brand lens to guide clients in this complex channel. Additional multi- channel experience in both the US and Canada enhances the development of eCommerce strategy that balances the interests of all sales channels in order to manage channel conflict.
CEO, New Age Beverage Corporation
Brent Willis is the Chief Executive Officer of New Age Beverages Corporation, a leading organic and all natural beverage company, intending to become the world’s largest healthy functional beverage operation. New Age owns leading brands in the growth segments of the beverage industry including Bùcha® Live Kombucha, XingTea®, Coco-Libre®, Marley®, Aspen Pure® Probitoic and other healthy beverages. Prior to New Age he owned an equity stake in a portfolio of private equity backed firms. Prior to this, he served as the CEO for Cott Corporation, the world’s largest retailer brand beverage company. Prior to Cott, Brent was the Global CCO and Zone President for AB InBev, and member of the Board of Directors for AmBev (NYSE: BUD, ABV). At AB InBev, he developed and implemented the strategy and business plans that helped create the world’s largest beer company. Prior to AB InBev, Brent was a senior executive with The Coca-Cola Company. At Coca-Cola, Brent was a President in Latin America, where led his Division to the #2 ranking worldwide of all Coca-Cola Company operating units. From 1987 through 1996, Brent worked for Kraft Heinz, where he managed a number of Kraft’s leading brands, developed their Category Management system in the US, led numerous acquisitions and joint ventures in Japan, Korea, Indonesia and others, and launched the Kraft Brand in China. Mr. Willis began his career as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army in 1982. He served in various combat arms leadership capacities around the world to include assignments in the 1st Cavalry Division. He led major programs within the Strategic Defense Initiative and numerous other compartmentalized programs including the Army Robotics Initiatives and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Drone initiatives. He authored the Counter-Air Concept to change the rules of engagement of Air Defense and received numerous decorations to include two Meritorious Service Medals, two Army Commendation Medals, the Army Achievement Medal, and the Airborne Paratrooper badge during his military career; he was honorably discharged with the rank of Captain. He received his BSc. Degree in Engineering from the US Military Academy at West Point and a Masters Degree in Business from the University of Chicago. Mr. Willis has been deeply involved in community service and started the Alianza Social in Latin America, an organization to combat poverty that created 30,000 micro-empresas, and help underprivileged families in Latin America. He was awarded the Medal of Exemplary Service to the Nation by the President of Venezuela for his efforts and was also voted an Outstanding Young Man of America and one of the Top CEO’s in Latin America.
SVP, Brand Growth Solutions, SPINS
Andrew joined SPINS as the Vice President of the Brand Growth Solutions team in 2015 to help the most innovative health & wellness brands in the industry grow even faster. The Brand Growth Solutions team now advises a broad portfolio of high-performing brands and investors on marketing, sales, innovation, and M&A. The team leverages SPINS’ industry-leading market data in combination with robust consumer information, analytics, and strategic analyses to generate powerful insights and develop profitable growth solutions for our clients. Andrew brings a passion for the Natural and Specialty Products Industry, plus over twenty years of consumer brand experience in strategy, marketing, and innovation leadership roles at McKinsey, Kraft, and PepsiCo.
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.
As Editor-in-Chief of BevNET, Jeffrey Klineman oversees the organization's reporting across all of its web sites, as well as BevNET Magazine. Jeffrey is also responsible for developing the content for conferences like BevNET Live and Food and Beverage University (FBU). Jeffrey previously worked as a newspaper reporter for the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune, the Boston TAB and the Metrowest Daily News, and has freelanced for publications like Slate, Boston Magazine, Self, George, Commonwealth, and the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Jeffrey is a graduate of Yale University and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. A frequently-cited expert on the beverage industry, Jeffrey has also been named in Forbes as one of the 25 Most Influential Kingmakers in Consumer and Retail Companies. He is still trying to live that one down.
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.
Breakout Session I Winter 2017 I Speakers
Founder, Kohnstamm Communications
CEO of his namesake firm for more than 25 years, Josh Kohnstamm is a forerunner in PR for natural and organic brands. Josh’s entry into the category began when he became a founding shareholder of Honest Tea, providing ground floor PR involvement in a generation of seminal brands for which Kohnstamm helped create critical national awareness. Client brand highlights in addition to Honest Tea include: Naked Juice, Reed’s, Kill Cliff, Mighty Leaf Tea, Herbal Water, Icelandic Glacial, Good2Grow, QDrinks, Noosa, Angie’s BOOMCHICKAPOP, Beech-Nut, Way Better Snacks, and many others — all together catapulting more than 90 brands over the past 20 years. Josh has been a speaker at Expo West for the agency’s early stage expertise and marketing around emerging dietary food trends. This year, his agency won a Bronze Anvil Award from PRSA for the best Word of Mouth marketing campaign for a 25-city brand ambassador program it created for baby food maker Beech-Nut, and in September was ranked the #2 best food and bev agency by topPRagencies.com. One of the agency’s longstanding corporate clients is 3M Food Safety, equipping Kohnstamm with a disproportionately deep food crisis communications knowledge-set. A native New Yorker, his PR agency is based in the Twin Cities where Kohnstamm attended Macalester College, became a newspaper editor, government communications director, and worked at Hill and Knowlton doing PR to launch Mall of America before founding his own agency.
Co-Founder & CEO, Haberman
Fred Haberman is a social entrepreneur, an agent for change in the good-food movement, and the CEO of a mission-driven marketing + PR agency. In the last 20 years he and his agency have helped bring organic food into the mainstream, spurring the growth of brands like Annie’s, Organic Valley and Earthbound Farm, and supporting the work of the Organic Trade Association, National Cooperative Grocers Association, and the McKnight Foundation’s food-security programs. As one of the co-founders of Urban Organics, a USDA-certified-organic aquaponics farm that uses just two percent of the water used in traditional agriculture, Fred’s on the leading edge of a movement for more sustainable agriculture. Speaking of movements, Fred’s started a few from scratch, namely the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships and employer-sponsored gardens.
Co-Founder & Managing Director, Dwight Funding
Ben Brachot is a Co-Founder and Managing Director at Dwight Funding. At Dwight, Ben works with early stage, growth stage and lower middle market companies in the food and beverage space. Dwight provides lines of credit designed to work alongside startup and investor backed businesses that have working capital needs. Prior to Dwight, Ben has over 10 years of experience providing flexible capital solutions to lower middle market businesses.
Founder, Stealth Help
As Co-Founder of Soylent, John Coogan fulfilled a variety of roles ranging from marketing, ecommerce strategy, engineering, and finance. From 2013 to 2017, he served as Chief Technology Officer where he managed a team of highly-skilled engineers and data scientists focused Soylent’s web presence, building e-commerce, order management, and fulfillment software. John built Soylent’s initial e-commerce site responsible for handling millions in payments every month. Under his leadership, the young company shipped millions of units on a budget of less than $100,000, while he also managed Soylent’s database build-out, business intelligence systems, in addition to numerous legal, finance, and HR projects. Prior to Soylent, John worked in finance, as well as early- and mid- stage technology companies. Coogan has a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Northeastern University and is enamored with data and anything that increases his efficiency. A Pasadena native, he currently resides in Echo Park. Los Angeles. During his career, John has sold over $100M of products online via direct to consumer ecommerce platforms. He is now consulting with up-and-coming brands to help them develop ecommerce strategies and grow their customer bases.
Founder & CEO, Nutpods
Madeline Haydon is the founder and CEO of nutpods, one of the fastest-growing plant-based, alternative dairy brands in the country. Created because of Haydon’s desire for a dairy-free creamer she would personally use and enjoy, her successful commercialization of nutpods has, in just two years, built a multi-million-dollar brand with an enviable direct-to-consumer business. The insight that helped make nutpods an immediate success was surprisingly simple: fill the market need for a better-for-you, dairy-free creamer that consumers could easily purchase online, and enthusiastically stock in their pantry. nutpods’ high-quality, shelf-stable formulation and packaging strategy made it portable and convenient to use with minimal waste. The brand’s fit into diets emphasizing plant-based foods, and healthier lifestyle programs like Whole30, also helped the brand build exceptional consumer loyalty and recommendation. nutpods today is helping lead the evolution of what consumers expect from premium plant-based, dairy-free foods. nutpods is consistently one of the best-selling creamer brands online, and one of the fastest-growing alternative dairy brands at retail. Haydon is expanding the brand’s availability nationwide and also pursuing an aggressive innovation strategy to make nutpods the dairy-free creamer brand of choice with consumers and coffee retailers. Haydon holds a BS in English from the University of Washington and an MBA in General Management from Seattle University. MSNBC “Your Business” recently profiled Haydon and the nutpods brand’s e-commerce success.
CEO, Disruptive Brands LLC
As a seasoned entrepreneur, investor, and operator, Bill Moses is committed to bringing consumers healthy choices in organic and better-for-you products. This passion led him to co-found KeVita Probiotic Drinks Inc., where he served as its Chairman and CEO until selling to PepsiCo in 2016. Today, Bill Moses is the CEO of Disruptive Brands, an investment platform focused on investing in and supporting Consumer brands. He is also Founder and Chairman of both Fermented Sciences Inc. and Cycle Hydrate, Executive Chairman of Iconic Protein, and a board director of both Koia and Wilde Brands.
Global Lead – Food & Beverages, Euromonitor International
Michael Schaefer is the Global Lead for Food & Beverages at Euromonitor International. He and his team track consumer trends, product innovations, and market evolution across the drinks and restaurant industries. Michael is the primary driver for design, development, and promotion of annual 80-country market research programs for the soft drinks and hot drinks industries, as well as an annual 54-country research program on the global restaurant industry. He has been quoted in Bloomberg Businessweek, BevNet, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, and the Financial Times, among others. Michael holds an M.A. in Russian and East European Studies from Stanford University and has been at Euromonitor since 2005.
CEO, Propeller Industries
Chris Fenster is the Founder and CEO of Propeller Industries, a leading provider of outsourced CFO and accounting services to emerging CPG and technology companies. Propeller specializes in the critical growth stage between $2 and $20M in revenue – helping clients professionalize their finances and manage the challenges of dynamic growth. Propeller currently handles over $1B in annual spending for more than 200 companies who have raised over $1.5B in outside capital. The firm has over 100 full-time professionals working from 6 US and 2 international offices. Current and alumni CPG clients include Krave Jerky, Sir Kensington’s, Chameleon Cold Brew and Kite Hill Foods. Consumer and tech clients include Casper, Giphy and TheSkimm. Prior to Propeller, Chris built and sold two companies in the outdoor industry and served in various CFO and operations roles for companies in consumer goods, e-commerce, food & beverage and financial services. He currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife and two young sons.
CEO, Rao's Specialty Foods
Eric Skae, the CEO of Rao’s Specialty Foods, is a natural leader with a passion for propelling organizations to success, a trait which has been the hallmark of his career. Before joining Rao’s Specialty Foods, Eric was the founder and Managing Partner of The Bricktown Group, a change management consulting firm providing Strategy, Finance, Sales & Marketing, and Operations consulting support to clients in the food, beverage and nutraceutical fields. Eric has a strong track record of success in meeting price, production, and quality targets while maintaining market share. With a deep understanding of financial modeling and extensive experience in Mergers and Acquisitions, Eric’s entrepreneurial mindset and hands-on approach enables him to quickly pinpoint and address financial and market vulnerabilities and opportunities. He continues to identify and capitalize on funding options that satisfy the specific needs of any project, product, or operational issue.
Managing Director, Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management
Mike’s family co-founded Bristol Farms, a Los Angeles based gourmet grocery store chain that raised private equity growth capital in 1994 and was acquired by Albertsons in 2004. As the son of a founder, Mike experienced the challenges of growing a family business, coordinating tax and estate planning, selling the business and managing family wealth at first hand. These experiences led to the creation of the Burbank Hafeli Schiller Group at Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management. The Burbank Hafeli Schiller Group specializes in financial planning and the management of permanent capital for the founders of food, beverage, and consumer products companies and private equity and investment banking firms. Today the Burbank Hafeli Group is a national practice with partners in San Francisco and Washington D.C. and manages over $1.7 Billion. Mike has over 34 years of experience as a private wealth advisor, is a Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA®) and a Certified Financial Planner™ CFP®, and was recognized in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 and 2017 by the Financial Times as one of the Top 400 Advisors in the United States and in the Barron’s annual ranking of America’s Top 1,200 Advisors for 2017. Mike is currently President the Board of Directors of Seacology, an international conservation organization that focuses on preserving island ecosystems and cultures around the world, www.seacology.org, and is a member of the Association for Corporate Growth, The Family Firm Institute, and the San Francisco Estate Planning Council. Mike lives in San Francisco, California with his wife, Cindy, and has three children.
Partner, BraunHagey & Borden, LLP
Dan Harris is a partner and head of the Corporate Practice Group at BraunHagey & Borden. Dan works closely with a wide range of innovative food/bev, food system technology, CPG, software, hardware, and marketplace-based companies throughout their life cycles, advising on general corporate and commercial matters, equity and debt financings and mergers and acquisitions. Dan’s core practice also involves representing a number of leading investors in the food/bev, CPG and technology sectors. Dan focuses on providing his clients commercially-grounded advice geared towards achieving their ultimate business goals and has represented companies and institutional investors in transactions totaling more than $1 billion during the course of his practice.
Founder & CEO, Vital Proteins
From his early beginnings as a NASA Aerospace Engineer training astronauts how to fly the space shuttle to his present role as the CEO and Founder of Vital Proteins, Kurt Seidensticker’s success has largely been self-made. A serial entrepreneur for more than 20 years, he’s successfully taken on and grown a number of companies within the e-commerce space, a feat that most notably landed him recognition as a “Top 50 Innovator in e-Commerce.” With a knack for identifying business opportunities and developing innovative solutions to ultimately see out his visions, Kurt approaches every endeavor with a “Renaissance man” mentality. This mindset is best showcased through Vital Proteins, a Chicago-based wellness company he founded in mid-2013. From defining the brand and marketing strategy to assisting with and providing the necessary technology needed for product development, Kurt has truly done it all - and to great success. He might say, however, that his biggest professional accomplishment was finding a way to blend his business-savvy skill sets with two of his life-long passions: wellness and running.
PR & Influencer Relations Manager, Covet PR
Kira has been a team member at Covet PR since the boutique agency launched in late 2014, playing an integral role in building the firm’s integrated influencer relations division. Possessing an unrivaled passion for all things lifestyle, Kira takes pride in scouting out the latest trends with a keen eye for innovation and new media. An expert at conceptualizing and executing unique, topical campaigns for clients such as Suja Juice, CORE Hydration, and Chameleon Cold-Brew, she utilizes her industry connections and creativity to successfully marry traditional public relations with influencer relations, for 360 degree, game-changing strategy.
Founder, Civilized Caveman & Author, The Paleo Kitchen
George Bryant is a professional Husband, Bonus Dad and family man. He is also personally and professionally passionate about people and their lives and businesses. Growing from his personal history of loss, challenges, abuse, and trauma as a result of his time in the Marines, George has developed and polished mental and lifestyle tools and hacks that have allowed him to push through and coexist with the human experience. George understands deeply the benefit of sharing life with other people. As a result, he shares his knowledge by teaching and coaching mindset tools on a personal level and developing and implementing conscious marketing products for businesses and entrepreneurs. Believing that the mediator between the head and the hands must be the heart, George brings unique and effective expertise to both individuals and business ventures. George’s most notable clients include Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Titleist, Reebok, Adidas, Onnit, and Vital Proteins. As a New York Time Bestselling author of The Paleo Kitchen, George also brings his massive mindset game to the world of food by training others to connect with the emotions and relationships that form the foundation of sharing meals with other people. When he shares himself through food and recipes, he uses the opportunity to dig below the food and embrace the humanity that runs through these cultural mainstays. George his time savoring every moment possible with his wife, Lindsey, his bonus daughter Cheyenne, and their newest addition Branson. He enjoys connecting with other people, taking ice baths, leveling up his life game, and using giant whiteboards to map out marketing solutions that make a difference in the world.
Partner, Barnhorn Growth Advisors
Brad is deeply involved with leading growth stage companies and investors at the intersection of the consumer products and private equity/financing communities as a Board Member and Advisor to both operating companies and institutional investors. His career path as an entrepreneur, CEO, board member, and investor has cut across all critical strategic and operational dimensions of growth stage consumer company-building. Mr. Barnhorn currently serves on the Board of Directors for KeVita, Chameleon Cold Brew, Zola, Rhythm Superfoods, Health Warrior, Biena Foods, Glukos and Fishpeople -- and previously served on the Board of Krave Jerky through to its sale to Hersheys.
NextFoods CEO Alan Murray has worked with the beverage industry for more than 20 years, having held various international marketing and general management roles within packaging giant Tetra Pak. As CEO in North America, he worked closely with many leading beverage brands and played a key role in bringing new packaging formats to the U.S. In 2010 he decided to step into the startup world by taking on the CEO role at NextFoods, makers of probiotic juice, GoodBelly. Murray was instrumental in licensing the brand’s patented probiotic technology from Sweden and participated in early activities such as brand creation and pitching to investors. Murray is also Vice Chairman of the publicly listed company SunOpta, a $1 billion global provider of natural and organic foods ingredients. His experience includes board work for private equity and venture backed companies in the packaging and food industries. He has worked closely with CEO’s as coach and sounding board in companies ranging in size from pre-revenue all the way to $1billion. He was the founder of the North American Carton Council, an industry body that serves to promote the recycling of cartons in the US. A graduate of the University of Cape Town, South Africa with a degree in Biochemistry and Applied Statistics, Murray participated in the Unilever Management Development Program and has attended various courses at the Business School IMD in Lausanne Switzerland. He is a Guest Speaker at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business and has taught case studies of his work at London’s Ashridge Business School.
Managing Partner, AccelFoods
Jordan oversees deal origination, structure and investment execution on behalf of AccelFoods, as well as heads up strategy, investor relations and general management of the fund. She serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Element Snacks and Four Sigmatic, as a board observer to KidFresh, Koia, and SkinnyDipped, and sits on the AccelFoods Investment Committee. Prior to founding AccelFoods, Jordan was an attorney at Morrison Cohen LLP where she worked in the Corporate department, advising venture and private equity firms and their portfolio companies on acquisitions, sales, mergers, and financings. She has 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. Jordan resides in New York City with her husband and two children, ages 7 and 4. She is constantly on the hunt for unique, purse friendly snacks for her kids.
Partner, Boulder Food Group
Dayton Miller is a Partner at Boulder Food Group (BFG), a venture capital firm focused on early stage food and beverage consumer product companies. BFG works alongside exceptional entrepreneurs to ensure their businesses deliver sustainable growth and outperform their competitors. Previously Dayton co-founded Function, a venture-backed health and wellness beverage company, which Dayton built from idea-conception to $20 million in retail sales until its acquisition by Sunsweet Growers, Inc. Prior to Function, Dayton was an executive in the strategy group at The Walt Disney Company where he worked for over seven years focusing on mergers & acquisitions and operating strategy. Dayton began his career as an analyst in investment banking and spent time as a management consultant for Bain & Co. Dayton received his BA from Vanderbilt University and his MBA from Harvard Business School.
VP Strategy and Brand Development, Essentia Water
Creative, dynamic and passionate leader in the beverage and food category. Best known as one of the leaders that turned around Snapple after its decline under Quaker, Neil is an acknowledged expert in the development of new beverages, writing for Bevnet and speaking at industry events. In 2013 Neil became VP of Strategy and Market Development for the fast growing Essentia Water, but still is an advisor to Runa and with Accel Foods.
Founder & Influencer, Philosophie Superfoods
Sophie Jaffe is a Los Angeles-based health and wellness expert, who is certified as a raw food chef and yoga teacher. Sophie founded her company and wellness brand, Philosophie, with the goal of making it easier, more inspiring, and more delicious to attain optimal health and radiant wellness. Through her holistic approach to wellbeing, Sophie has learned that total wellbeing begins with total nourishment, which is why she created her unique line of cleanses and superfood products. These healing products have helped everyone from George Clooney to Sophie’s own dad, and have become essential components in the lives of thousands more. Sophie also collaborates with huge brands to create magical partnerships visually and energetically, appears on TV Shows, and writes for publications such as Well + Good, The Chalkboard Magazine, The Body Book, and Mind Body Green. She has been featured in Shape Magazine, Yoga Journal, Bazaar, The Los Angeles Times, and Angeleno Magazine and was selected as the cover model for Yoga Journal Russia. Currently, Sophie is filming and launching LA Yoga Girls, a reality show on Z Living Network slated for August 2017. Always looking for a way to give back to the community, Sophie also frequently leads international women's empowerment IGNTD workshops, moon circles, and yoga and HIIT classes. When Sophie isn’t crafting revolutionary products from the world’s most potent superfoods, she is sharing her insights on how to live a life full of unbounded energy, bliss, and balance on the Philosophie blog and savoring every moment with her two beautiful children and loving husband!
Beverage School | Winter 2017 | Speakers
Founder & President, Healthy Brand Builders
For more than 43 years, James has served the private-sector as a brand and marketing development professional. He directs the building and design of national infrastructures for food and beverage industry clients. Tonkin has successfully created and implemented business and financial strategies for domestic and international players focusing from production to branding, marketing through sales implementation and distribution, to include exit strategy. Tonkin has focused branding initiatives in soft drink, bottled water, functional foods and beverages, and non- carbonated “new age” beverage verticals. His extensive hands-on expertise has stretched across many sectors including domestic cheeses to natural potato chips; bottled waters for people and pets; and nutraceutical-functional-cosmeceutical enhanced beverages. Jim serves as a popular keynote speaker covering new beverage trends, successful branding insight and with his blunt and sometimes irreverent humor, pushes the envelope! He has many repeat performances and is truly a respected and admired entrepreneur in his own right!
Executive Vice President, L.A. Libations
Born in Paris, France, David Meniane moved to Los Angeles at the age of 18. After obtaining a BS in Accounting and Master’s in Tax Law from the University of Southern California in 2005, he spent two years advising real estate developers and mid-size business owners as a CPA for Holthouse Carlin & Van Trigt, one of California’s leading CPA firms. In 2007, David switched over to the private side of accounting when he was hired as controller for Aflalo & Harkham Investments, a commercial real estate company with $350 million in assets. In less than 2 years, he became Chief Financial Officer and Asset Manager for 27 companies, overseeing the sale of $200 million worth of properties. As an entrepreneur, David, alongside his wife Deborah, founded Victoria’s Kitchen in 2012. Creating this specialty beverage company, he quickly learned various facets of the beverage industry including brand building, commercialization, strategy, distribution, supply chain and operating in a high-risk fast paced environment. After appearing on Season 6 of Shark Tank, the company became profitable in its 4th year and was eventually acquired in 2017. Since 2016, David has been acting as Executive Vice President at L.A. Libations, the official incubating partner for The Coca-Cola Company. Under the guidance and support of its founder, Danny Stepper, he put his experience to use by leading the efforts in restructuring Obi Probiotic Soda helping multiply its revenue six fold in one year. David also leads all commercialization efforts for new brand partners and in-house projects with a true focus on discipline and execution. David now touches all aspects of beverage incubation from business development, research & development, commercialization, distribution, price architecture, supply chain, operations, sales, fundraising to overall strategy. Having lead two beverage turnarounds, and his own company for 6 years, he also takes his analytical approach to help struggling brands in growing categories with transforming or rebuilding infrastructure, product and market execution. David currently maintains an active CPA license in the state of California and lives in Los Angeles with his wife of 11 years and their beautiful 1-year old daughter, Bella.
VP of Field Operations, L.A. Libations
Born in Los Angeles, California, Robert Macias was raised in the San Fernando Valley. Robert attended San Fernando Valley College. Soon afterwards, Robert started working at Pickwick Records where he held positions of warehouse supervisor, to sales representative. Robert was instrumental in persuading the Pickwick buyers from a mainstream purchasing pattern to the new the exploding new wave and punk rock scene. Robert was recognized for his bold and visionary views. In 1984, Robert started working for Coca-Cola. Hired as a merchandiser, Robert was quickly moved to sales and held positions throughout the Los Angeles basin. Robert was promoted to District Sales Manager in 1990. In 1996 Robert was appointed to Sales Manager at Los Angeles Sales Center with the objective to build the same culture that he achieved while a District Manager in Sylmar. Robert reengineered the entire sales system and changed the face of sales center. Robert introduced the "Men in Black" reset team. The "Men in Black" were identified as the best of the best merchandisers, but lacked either the desired formal education, training and leadership. With the help of District Managers, Robert developed a weekly training program revolved around communication, business math, volume trends and the ability to rise above. The Men in Black worked closely with the Sales Team, and were assigned key areas in Los Angeles. The objective was to dominate the trade with selected best selling brands, and introducing new beverages. In 1999 Robert was promoted to Branch Manager, Downey Production Center, Downey, California. From 1999 to 2005, Robert managed the Downey, City of Industry, Ventura/Bishop, Sylmar/Lancaster and the Los Angeles Sales Center. It was in Los Angeles, as the Sales Center Manager, where Robert developed many visionary platforms. Robert was the only Sales Center Manager appointed to the company's Atlanta Based Diversity and Inclusion Council. Robert was instrumental in creating Blue Demon energy drink and through area focused taste tests, recommended to the brand team, switching the Coke Zero package from a white package to a black package. Robert also recommended the target audience by reviewing data, and using "no sugar" as the tagline. The sampling platform was Classic Coke, Diet Coke and Coke Zero. In 2016 Robert joined LA Libations as Brand Manager for Arriba Horchata. Robert introduced Arriba to Vallarta Markets, all three SKU's and in over 33 outlets. Since January, 2017 Robert now manages the LAL Field Team as the VP of Field Operations. Robert quickly introduced Repsly, which tracks guidance and results. Robert teaches his team productivity data, and to treat each business with the same tactics Robert learned from his experiences and methods he learned in his 32 years at Coca-Cola. They have successfully developed key areas in the Southern California area. Robert and his team have lead and participated in numerous meetings sharing "the secret sauce", and in trade visits showing others how to win the marketplace. Robert is an active cyclist, kayak fisherman and music fan, Robert lives in Santa Clarita with his wife of 23 years and their son Neil and beautiful daughter Susha. Robert's has two older sons, Rawley who owns Rouleur Brewery in Carlsbad, and Drew who is a Key Account Manager for Stone Brewing, Southern California.
Founder, Verge Strategy Inc.
Vivian Rhoads is the Founder of Verge Strategy Inc., a growth-focused marketing consulting firm based in trend-setting Los Angeles. Since starting Verge Strategy in 2014, she has helped companies, large and small, identify opportunities for brand growth, develop effective marketing plans, and launch successful new products. Clients include Nestlé, The Clorox Company, Starbucks, KraftHeinz, MolsonCoors, Chicken of the Sea, Thive Olive Oil, and others. Prior to Verge, Vivian led marketing innovation and venturing at Naked Emerging Brands, where she was responsible for all of PepsiCo's venturing initiatives in the emerging healthy beverages segment. Over her 15-year career, she also held global leadership marketing roles at Wrigley/Mars, PepsiCo (Frito-Lay and Naked Juice) and Procter and Gamble, with hands-on experience working with brands like Extra, Orbit, 5 gum, Eclipse, Skittles, Starburst, Cheetos, Doritos, Fritos, Gamesa, Naked Juice, Kevita, IZZE Natural Soda, Downy and Tide. Vivian has worked across multiple geographies, including in-country placements in the US, Brazil, Spain, UK, Germany and Puerto Rico. Vivian received an MBA from McCombs School of Business at University of Texas in Austin, and a BS from the Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV) in Sao Paulo, Brazil. She lives in West Los Angeles with her husband and their two young children. When not supporting clients or running after her kids, she enjoys meditation and brewing kombucha and beer at home.
Managing Partner, Whipstitch Capital
Michael Burgmaier is a Co-Founder and Managing Director with Whipstitch Capital, an investment bank that provides private placement and buy-side / sell-side mergers & acquisitions advisory services for leading consumer products companies in the healthy, organic, natural and/or functional food, beverage, supplements, personal care and related retail companies. He has helped complete over 50 transactions for clients such as KeVita, Uncle Matt’s Organics, Essentia Water, Spindrift, The Switch, Redd Bar, Peeled Snacks, Blake’s All Natural Foods and Otter Creek Brewing Company. Mike has been active in the M&A and private equity/VC consumer space since early 2004; previously he was a Consultant with Bain & Co. In 2008, Burgmaier was named as a "40 Under 40" leader in the Natural Products Industry by Natural Foods Merchandiser. Mike has an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, an MPP from Duke University and a BA in Economics from Boston College.
Chief Strategy Officer, MetaBrand
Debbie Wildrick – Chief Strategy Officer, MetaBrand is a sales, marketing, and operations executive and channel strategy specialist in the consumer packaged goods industry with 30+ years’ experience. She has had leadership roles at Fortune 500 companies including 7-Eleven, Inc. and Tropicana North America (Pepsico). In addition, her experience includes a strong background in building start-up brands including her own consulting business, the CEO of BAZI®, Inc. a public company, FRS Healthy Energy and Sundance Juice Sparklers, a brand which she helped grow to 100 million dollars in the early 1990s. She has also worked with leading companies in the industry to include both retailers, distributors, and manufacturers. They include The McLane Company, Wal-mart, Whole Foods, Target, GNC, Rite Aid, Walgreens, Safeway, Coca-Cola, Nestle Waters and many others. Wildrick has served as an Executive Committee Chair of the Network of Executive Women for ten years. She is also a regular panelist, speaker and columnist. She is a graduate of the University of Texas at Dallas and the Cornell Food Executive Program.
Partner, Amin Talati
Ivan Wasserman is a Partner at the law firm of Amin Talati Upadhye and is one of the nation’s premier attorneys focusing on the marketing of health and wellness products, including foods, beverages, dietary supplements, OTC drugs and cosmetics. With more than 20 years of experience, he and his team combine legal skill, business acumen and energetic creativity to help companies of all sizes tackle their most challenging issues, from developing labeling and marketing campaigns in a highly regulated environment, to defending government investigations, competitor challenges (NAD/ERSP) and consumer class actions. Ivan is a frequent and engaging speaker at industry workshops and events. He has been included in “Best Lawyers in America” from 2007 – 2018, was recently named the 2018 Advertising Lawyer of the Year for Chicago, and was the recipient of the 2017 Lexology Client Choice award for exemplary client service. Ivan is a graduate of Vassar College and the George Washington University National Law Center.