BODYARMOR'S MIKE REPOLE ON BEING A CHALLENGER CHAMPION
When legacy beverage brands get comfortable with their status as category leaders and resist taking the risks needed to drive their brands forward, the market can open for new, innovative players to come in and compete. These beverage entrepreneurs aim to disrupt and evolve established categories as they go for broke -- sometimes literally -- to challenge the top brands.
Being a challenger means not only having big ideas, but knowing how to grow from a startup brand to true scalability. For Vitaminwater and BodyArmor co-founder Mike Repole, this means being “patiently aggressive,” staying on your toes, and setting ambitious goals-- like becoming the top-selling sports drink by 2025. Speaking on June 12, 2019 at BevNET Live Summer 2019 in New York City, Repole, joined onstage by BodyArmor CEO Brent Hastie, shared what he’s learned about leadership, team-building and risk-taking after over 20 years in the industry and two multi-billion dollar investment deals with the Coca-Cola Co.
INDUSTRY ALL-STARS HAVE SPOKEN AT BEVNET LIVE
Founder & CEO, GT’s Living Foods
GT Dave is the category creator of the Kombucha industry with his line of #1 selling products known as GT's Kombucha & Synergy. Over 20 years ago while he was barely a teenager, GT started brewing and bottling his authentic organic raw Kombucha in his parent's kitchen in Los Angeles. Since then, he has expanded his company's portfolio beyond Kombucha and has once again become a pioneer of cutting-edge wellness offerings including non-dairy kefirs, non-dairy raw coconut yogurts, probiotic shots, adaptogenic teas, and much more. GT continues to be the creative and visionary force behind all of GT's Living Foods while allowing the company to remain family-owned and operated.
Founder & CEO, Hint Inc.
Maya French is a Co-Founder of Koia, the protein packed, 100 percent plant-based beverage that uses natural ingredients to deliver deliciously nutritious flavors. French struggled with food-based allergies, such as being lactose intolerant her whole life, until she discovered the benefits of plant-based proteins when college friend and fellow Koia Co-Founder, Dustin Baker, was testing out recipes in his Chicago kitchen. At this moment, French realized her calling was to create a functional product that would contribute to providing consumers with a healthier lifestyle. With only experience in journalism and fashion retail, French took a leap of faith into unknown territory to follow her dreams and partnered with Baker to launch Koia. Discovering an innovative dairy and soy-free option with a balance of high protein and low sugar made French look and feel better as she committed to a healthy diet change. After years of trials and customer research, she has become a natural foods industry expert and professional. Her focus now is on growing the Koia brand and driving awareness among consumers of how plant based, healthy lifestyle choices can benefit them. “As someone who is lactose-intolerant, there aren’t many protein products that aren’t dairy-based. I make it my personal mission as a co-founder to let everyone know they have Koia as an option,” French says. Besides being dairy-free, French’s favorite thing about Koia is that it is sweet but not high in sugar. “You can still have the taste profile you want without the guilt,” she comments. She is also a fan of how Koia uses only simple ingredients that consumers can actually recognize, making it clear what you're consuming every time you drink a Koia! With the help of French, Koia launched nationally at Whole Foods Market and quickly scaled to become the most productive refrigerated protein brands in the natural channel within 18 months of inception, and is now sold in 5,000 stores across the country.
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.”
VP, Consumer Insights, BDS Analytics, Inc.
Prior to joining BDS Analytics, Jessica Lukas spent 10 years working with top global CPG and Beverage Alcohol companies at BASES (Nielsen Innovation) and on the shopper marketing team at Dr Pepper Snapple Group. After taking a short break to develop and launch an app with a business partner, Jessica returned to data analytics—but this time for cannabis. At BDS Analytics, she is the VP of Consumer Insights. BDS Analytics is headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, and is the leader in data, market research, analytics, and consumer insights for the cannabis industry. She helps clients understand the evolution of the cannabis market and consumer in order to assess the opportunities and threats that drive strategic decisions. Given her many years spent working within beverages (alcohol and non), the interaction, overlap, substitutability, pairing of cannabis with beverages is a particular focus.
Founder & CEO, Presence Marketing
Bill Weiland is the Founder, President and CEO of Presence Marketing/Dynamic Presence. Bill has committed his entire adult life to furthering the wellness lifestyle movement. It began with nearly a dozen years of working in the Natural Products Industry, in varied roles within the sales and retail sectors. Bill 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. Bill’s uncompromising obsession for sustainable agriculture, healthy foods and integrated medicine are key drivers behind his commitment to continue building a world of clean products that everyone can have access to. Named by Forbes Magazine as one of the “Top 25 Most Influential “Kingmakers” in Consumer and Retailer Companies,” Bill Weiland has grown Presence Marketing/Dynamic Presence into the largest independent natural and organic products brokerage in the U.S. In working with leading national brands as well as successful startups, Bill has a keen eye on consumer and product trends driving the rapidly growing healthy lifestyles market. Bill also is a leading supporter of consumer transparency and GMO labeling.
Managing Partner, LivWell Ventures
Bryan Bulte is a Managing Partner at LivWell Ventures, a $60M, early stage investment firm, focused on better-for-you lifestyle brands across food, beverage, nutritional supplements and fitness technology. LivWell’s portfolio includes a few of the following notable brands: C4, The Living Apothecary, Xtend, Lemon Perfect, FitJoy Foods, Big Swig, Orro, AmpleMeal, Studio.Live, and most recently, Yerbae and Weller. Bryan has invested in over 40 companies from a wide array of industries, with a special penchant for technology and consumer packaged goods in the wellness space. In 2013, Bryan co-founded Seed Sumo, a Texas-based startup accelerator that invested in and mentored 24 companies over a 3-year period, with an unrealized IRR in the triple digits. Bryan is highly engaged with the startup community, serving on the board of newly formed Naturally Austin, a mentor at Capital Factory, a venture partner at NextGen VP, and an active LP in Brand Foundry (NYC), Vestigo Ventures (Boston), and Funders Club (SF).
Global Director - Explore Fund, ZX Ventures
Liz Tomic leads CPG investing for ZX Ventures, the global growth and innovation group of AB InBev. Prior to taking on that focus in 2018, she was the global director for innovation at the company. Before ZX she worked at Prophet, a brand and marketing consultancy, and started her career in investment banking at J.P. Morgan. Liz holds a MBA from the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia and bachelor’s degree from Fordham University.
NEXT CONFERENCE: BEVNET LIVE WINTER 2019 IN SANTA MONICA
The next BevNET Live conference takes place at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel on December 9th and 10th. More than 800 beverage industry founder and executives come together to move their businesses forward and discover what's next for the industry. Plan ahead and secure your seat at the two-day conference. Early registration savings of $200 per ticket ends October 25th.