BEVNET LIVE WINTER 2019 SPEAKERS
The complete BevNET Live speaker lineup will feature more than 20 beverage industry leaders. Check back for updates!
Co-Founder, Sweet Leaf Tea; Co-Founder, Deep Eddy Vodka; Co-Founder CAVU Ventures,
CEO & Founder, Brew Dr. Kombucha
President, Fiji Water Group
Elizabeth Stephenson is president of the FIJI Water Group, a division of The Wonderful Company. The FIJI Water Group is comprised of FIJI Water, Justin Winery and Vineyards, Landmark Winery and Vineyards, and the Neptune Pacific Line, a shipping company in the South Pacific. FIJI Water is the No. 1 premium imported bottled water in the United States and has expanded globally to more than 80 countries. Elizabeth joined The Wonderful Company in 2015 to lead the company’s Strategy Group, an internal consulting group responsible for strategy, M&A, change management, and special projects. In 2016, she became president of POM Wonderful, the leading pomegranate brand and producer in the world, known for its POM Wonderful Juices and Teas, POM POMs pomegranate arils, and POM-brand fresh pomegranates. Elizabeth transitioned to her present role in the Spring of 2018. Previously, Elizabeth was a partner at McKinsey & Company, where she served clients on long-term strategy and strategic growth topics, from 2001–2015. While there, she specialized in large-scale, corporate portfolio strategy and growth strategy working at the C-suite and board level, primarily for Fortune 100 companies. Elizabeth holds a B.A. magna cum laude from Yale in cultural anthropology and an M.A. in European history from Columbia. A former Fulbright scholar and Mellon fellow, she did doctoral work in cultural anthropology at the University of Chicago.
Operating Partner, Continental Grain & Arlon Investments
Tyler Ricks has spent 25+ years creating value in the food and beverage industry. He’s held executive level positions at PepsiCo, Bear Naked, Plum Organics, Peet’s Coffee and Einstein Noah’s. Tyler recently transitioned from his position as CEO of Bagel Brands for JAB into a full-time Operating Partner role for Continental Grain and Arlon, a hybrid investment firm based in NYC. Tyler supports the venture and middle market segments of the portfolio. He serves as a Board Member for Wholesome Sweeteners, Cicis Pizza, Joyride Coffee and Kitu. Tyler has been an avid venture investor, participating in the success of Bear Naked, Evol Foods, I and Love and You, Kevita, Sweet Earth, Yasso, Sufferfest, Vive, Dang, Flying Embers, Ancient Nutrition, Grillo’s and Kitu. He recently relocated from Northern California to Connecticut with his wife Brianna and their three children.
Founder/Co-CEO, Halen Brands
Jason Cohen, Founder/Co-CEO, grew up in Northern NJ where his parents were prodigies of immigrant parents that came over to America seeking refuge. Jason attended the University of Maryland at College Park where he earned a BS in Marketing and Minor Finance. After college Jason went on to work for Northwestern Mutual Life where he quickly became one of the top producing insurance salesmen in the country. Utilizing his interpersonal skills Jason networked with his clients in effort to find his true passion. Eventually leading him to create a better way to eat without sacrificing taste and style. In 1999 Jason founded Mamma Says, a food manufacturing company that produced biscotti and cookies in a plant he built in upstate NY with the money he saved from his insurance sales. Working insurance by night and plant by day... In a few years, the company was able to establish a national brand where Jason partnered with Kellogg’s to grow the brand even further.. In 2005, the business was sold to NONNIS Inc., a portfolio brand of Windpoint Partners for 4x revenue. In 2005, Jason co-founded World Gourmet Marketing, creating better-for-you snacks under the flagship brand Sensible Portions, which included snacks such as Nationally recognized Veggie Straws,.. Under his management, the company achieved double-digit growth and became one of the fastest rising snack food industry purveyors. The company grew to just under $100MM in 4yrs. In 2010, World Sensible Portions brand sold for $110MM to The Hain Celestial Group, one of the leading providers of organic and natural foods. While at Hain Celestial, Jason served as President of the Club and Snack Division. In 2011, Jason founded Rickland Orchards, the first shelf stable Greek yogurt brand. In October 2013, after sales soared to $50 million in just 18 months, the company was sold for $57.5 million to B&G Foods, a public company. In 2013, Jason partnered with the founders of SkinnyPop Popcorn an early stage better for you play on popcorn. In 2014, Jason received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the Excellence in Emerging category in the New Jersey region. in 2015 after enormous success SkinnyPop went public for 1.4 billion in shareholder value through Goldman Sachs and was recently acquired by Hershey’s. In January 2015, Jason co-founded Halen Brands, Inc., which quickly funded Chef’s Cut Real Jerky a premium jerky brand in March 2015. In July 2015 Halen Brands, Inc partnered with Core and most recently acquired OWYN. Which stands for ONLY WHAT YOU NEED. A simple clean approach to plant-based protein without compromising taste or style. In 2015 Jason and his wife Jamie created an Entrepreneurship Endowment at the University of Maryland to assist the Dingman Center of Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland. In 2017 Jason was nominated to the University of MD Smith School Advisory Board and Mass Eye & Ear Advisory Board. In addition, Jason set up a foundation for Traumatic Brain Injury & Concussion Research at the University of Miami in 2017. In 2018 CORE HYDRATION, one of Halen Brands' strategic investments, sold to Keurig Dr. Pepper for $525mm In 2018 Halen Brands launched REAL FOOD FROM THE GROUND UP, utilizing cauliflower as its main ingredients to create a full line of snacks, crackers and chips. In 2019 Jason was nominated to University of Maryland Board of Trustees Jason currently resides in Northern NJ with his wife Jamie and two beautiful daughters Jordan and Hailey.
Founder & CEO, Dry Soda
As the visionary behind DRY Soda Company, Sharelle Klaus has always had a passion for the culinary world and celebrating each part of a meal – including the beverage. After having four children, she didn’t want to let a lack of wine or cocktails stop her from creating a great pairing. Klaus recognized an absence of refreshing, clean, non-alcoholic options in the market, and became determined to create the first line of less-sweet sodas that was worthy of meal pairing and premium mixology. She believed savory and sweet flavors more commonly used in cuisine could offer exciting compliments to her favorite meals. In 2005, Klaus crafted the first batches of DRY Sparkling soda in her home kitchen and officially launched DRY Soda Co. a few months later. In 2018, she launched DRY Soda Co.’s second brand – DRY Zero Sugar organic sodas – to bring that same elevated experience to consumers seeking a better sugar-free soda option. Klaus brings nearly two decades of entrepreneurial, financial and technology industry experience to her role as CEO at DRY, and oversees all marketing, strategic planning and innovation for the brand. With guidance from some of the Pacific Northwest’s best chefs and a savvy corporate team, Klaus pioneered a new category of sparkling beverages, fearlessly leading DRY’s aggressive growth in a male dominated industry. Prior to founding DRY, Klaus worked as a consultant for Infrastructure Management Group and Price Waterhouse. She also served as president of the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs, where she drove strategic development of programs, events and fundraising for the organization’s 250+ Seattle-area members. Klaus has been featured by ParentMap, Huffpost, Forbes, BevNET, Seattle Magazine, Imbibe, and was honored by Seattle Business Magazine as one of its 2018 CEOs of the year. With a keen appreciation for humor and wit, Klaus is an avid supporter of entrepreneurship and frequently speaks at professional conferences, workshops, and the University of Washington Business School, where she also participates as a judge for the Michael G. Foster’s School’s well-known business plan competitions. She has served as a member of the Executive Committee of the Seattle Pacific University Business School, the Board of Directors at the Seattle Chamber of Commerce and the Board of the Seattle Lung Force. Klaus graduated from Seattle Pacific University with an undergraduate degree in political science, and currently resides in Seattle, Wash.
CMO & GM of eCommerce, OWYN
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.
Divisional Merchandise Manager, Chilled Packaged Goods, Walmart
Sarah has spent the last 10 years in the food business at Walmart. During this time she has held roles in private brands, sustainability as well as various buying roles in merchandising. She’s currently leading the refrigerated buying teams to cultivate a new shopping experience. She is passionate about growing American entrepreneurs and creating new models for growth.
Founder & CEO, FORTO Coffee
Neel Premkumar created FORTO Coffee to fuel the next generation of coffee lovers, looking for a fast coffee energy boost. Today, FORTO is the #1 Coffee Shot and the best-selling shelf-stable Organic Bottled Coffee in the U.S., sold in over 50,000 retail stores. The company has been on Inc.500’s fastest-growing company list for multiple years, and Neel is an EY Entrepreneur of the Year finalist. Prior to becoming the Founder and CEO of FORTO, Neel was a marketing executive at Nestle, and beforehand, founded a boutique marketing agency called CreativeHub, with clients that included Unilever, General Mills and Samsung. Neel holds an MBA from The Wharton School of Business, a Graduate Marketing degree from The University of Chicago, and a Bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. He resides with his wife and twin girls near New York City.
Co-Founder & CEO, Vita Coco
Sarah has over 25 years of brand building experience and is fueled by a passion for doing well and doing good. She is CEO of Boulder, CO based Bhakti, Inc, a mission-driven, natural tea company devoted to craft brewed beverages, vibrant flavors and sustainability. Prior to Bhakti, Sarah was Chief Sales and Marketing Officer for Three Twins Organic Ice Cream and before that Chief Commercial Officer for Ecologic, a sustainable packaging company. Sarah was CMO at Annie’s, Inc. from the time Annie’s was a small mac and cheese company thru its IPO and to the General Mills acquisition. Sarah began her career with marketing roles at Frito Lay, followed by Nestle and then PowerBar. Sarah recently completed 3 terms (9 years) on the Organic Trade Association’s Board of Directors. She is currently on the board of Just Label It, an organization focused on federal GMO labeling.
President & CEO, Good Karma Foods
Doug is a classical, ‘big company’ packaged goods marketer turned growth entrepreneur in the natural products industry. He currently serves as President and CEO of Good Karma Foods, one of the fastest growing Brands in the plant-based dairy category. Prior to Good Karma, Doug served as interim General Manager of Rudi’s Organic Bakery after the successful sale to The Hain Celestial Group. During his tenure at Rudi’s, Doug was responsible for all key growth initiatives, acting as SVP of Sales & Marketing where he was able to more than double revenue in less than 4 years. He has 22 years of experience in various consumer products categories, including healthcare, snack foods, frozen, dairy, and organic. Doug has held various leadership positions with many leading consumer brands such as Rudi’s Organic Bakery, Silk Soymilk, Horizon Organic, and Doritos. Passionate about the natural products industry, Doug is a past President of Naturally Boulder, serves on a number of small company boards, and regularly mentors emerging brand entrepreneurs. He has an undergraduate degree from Colorado State University and a MBA in Marketing from Wake Forest University.
Co-Founder & CEO, Health-Ade Kombucha
Daina Trout co-founded Health-Ade Kombucha in 2012 alongside her husband, Justin Trout, and best friend, Vanessa Dew, in Los Angeles. Daina, who has Masters’ degrees in Nutrition and in Public Health from Tufts University, was working in corporate America when she decided to pursue her passion for “real” food and develop the best-tasting, highest quality kombucha on the market. Under her fearless leadership, Health-Ade has grown from a small production, artisanal item made in Daina’s tiny apartment and sold at local farmer’s markets into the fastest growing brand in the category that is now available in more than 12,000 stores and restaurants nationwide.
Chief Brand Cebador/Co-founder, Guayakí Yerba Mate
David Karr is the Chief Brand Cebador of Guayaki SRP, inc., a company he co-founded with Alex Pryor, his “soul brother” in 1996. As the brand steward, David is responsible for the look, feel and story of Guayaki and is committed to creating sustainable, regenerating enterprises that nourish the planet and humanity. He lives on his community farm on Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada with his wife Jennifer Lloyd and two boys Alex and Rio.
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.
Co-Founder & Chief Organic Optimist, Stonyfield Farm
Gary Hirshberg is Co-Founder and Chief Organic Optimist of Stonyfield Farm, the world’s leading organic yogurt producer, and the author of Stirring It Up: How to Make Money and Save the World (Hyperion, 2008). Gary frequently speaks on topics including sustainability, organic agriculture and the profitability of green business. Gary serves on several corporate and non-profit boards, including Blue Apron, Forager, Orgain, Peak Organic Brewing, and UNreal chocolates as well as Advisory Board member for Applegate. He has received 12 honorary doctorates and numerous awards for corporate and environmental leadership including a 2015 Champion for Children Award from Mount Sinai Hospital’s Children’s Environmental Health Center and a Lifetime Achievement Award by the US EPA.
Founder & CEO, Vital Proteins
Kurt Seidensticker is the Founder and CEO of collagen-based wellness company, Vital Proteins. A serial entrepreneur with more than two decades of experience, Kurt has successfully grown a number of companies within the e-commerce space – a journey that eventually led him to define a new space in the nutritional marketplace: powdered collagen. Kurt’s passion for health and fitness – and his ambition to help others live their best lives – became the crux of the Vital Proteins brand, and ultimately, the company mission. When he’s not strategizing Vital Proteins’ next move for big picture growth, Kurt can be found running along the Chicago lakefront or in his kitchen whipping up his favorite green smoothie (complete with collagen, of course).
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.
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.
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.
Founder & CEO, Bonafide Provisions
Sharon Brown is the Founder and CEO of Bonafide Provisions. Sharon’s journey in the food business began when she healed her son in 2011, from chronic health issues using a holistic approach to health that incorporated copious amounts of bone broth. This led her to open a private practice in Del Mar California helping 1000’s of patients across the country heal from chronic disease using food and bone broth as a mainstay of her program. She enlisted the help of her chef husband and niece who was a cross fit coach to make a bone broth that met her standards for her clients. Today, her company Bonafide Provisions is the pioneer of Bone Broth, with the #1 selling frozen bone broth in the nation. She recently launched her newest creation “Drinkable Veggies” winning the coveted NEXTY award for “Best New Beverage 2017” at Expo West. With a degree in business and her clinical experience using real food as medicine, her companies mission statement has become a reality which is “to craft real-genuine, nutrient dense foods and make the available and accessible to all for their life journey”.
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.