Virtually Live Summer 2020 Main Stage Speakers
Chef & Owner, Crafted Hospitality; The Jersey Tomato Co. Ambassador; Food Activist,
Tom Colicchio is the chef and owner of Crafted Hospitality, which currently includes New York’s Craft, Riverpark and Temple Court; Los Angeles’ Craft Los Angeles; and Las Vegas’ Heritage Steak and Craftsteak. Born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Tom made his New York cooking debut at prominent New York restaurants including The Quilted Giraffe, Gotham Bar & Grill and Gramercy Tavern before opening Craft in 2001. Outside of his fine dining restaurants, Colicchio opened ‘wichcraft – a sandwich and salad fast casual concept rooted in the same food and hospitality philosophies as Craft – in New York City in 2003. In late 2018 Tom and his team opened Small Batch in Garden City, NY, a casual dining restaurant celebrating pride of place through commitments to local ingredients, purveyors and people. In an effort to broaden his long-standing activism around food issues, Tom served as an executive producer to the 2013 documentary “A Place at the Table” about the underlying causes of hunger in the United States. This eye-opening experience led Tom on a journey to Washington DC where he has been a mainstay in our nation’s capital in the years since. From holding members of Congress accountable on their voting records around food to working with former FLOTUS Michelle Obama on the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, Tom has established himself as the leading “Citizen Chef” advocating for a food system that values access, affordability and nutrition over corporate interests. Tom and his restaurants give back to the community through their impact partnership with FEAST and by serving on the boards of Children of Bellevue, City Harvest, and Wholesome Wave. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife Lori Silverbush and their three sons. When he’s not in the kitchen, Tom can be found tending to his garden on the North Fork of Long Island, enjoying a day of fishing or playing guitar.
CEO & Co-Founder, Hella Cocktail Co.
Jomaree Pinkard’s career journey has taken him from helping to develop and implement The Salvation Army's September 11 World Trade Center Recovery Program to consulting for the NFL. In 2012, he became the Co-Founder and CEO of a minority-led craft cocktail company, Hella Cocktail Co. In eight years, he and his partners have grown a hobby into a nationally distributed premium-quality food manufacturer producing a line of nonalcoholic cocktail mixers, bitters, and newest innovation Bitters & Sodas that make it easier and more accessible to craft delicious drinks at home or behind the bar. Jomaree is a graduate of the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce and also earned his MBA from The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.
As Co-Founder and CEO of Koia, Chris Hunter is currently focused on scaling the brand which has become the most productive protein beverage in retail. Launching in 2016, Koia’s initial product offering was a craveable, ready to drink, plant-based protein shake. Current offerings have extended into plant-based keto shakes and a line of planted-based elevated coffee. All products deliver on Koia’s mission to provide easy access to convenient, nutritious, and delicious plant-based nutrition. Hunter is a successful entrepreneur focused on creating, investing in, and scaling pioneering brands. He is the Co-Founder of iconic alcohol brands Four Loko and Not Your Father’s Root Beer. Furthermore, Hunter founded Perspective Projects, his private equity arm, in 2016 and Co-Founded Graze Provisions & Libations in 2018. Perspective Projects currently has investments in brands that are leading their space, including Vive Organics (functional shots), Beanfields (bean based chips), Factor (fully prepared healthy delivered meals), and Roar Organics (electrolyte infusioned drinks and powders). Graze Provisions & Libations is a locally driven food and beverage collective in the heart of Minneapolis’ North Loop. Hunter grew up in Northeast Ohio and graduated from Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration & Marketing. He currently lives in San Diego with his wife and three young sons, where he maintains an active lifestyle by practicing yoga, cycling, running and surfing.
Founder & CEO, Partake Foods
Denise Woodard is the Founder/CEO of Partake, a line of allergy-friendly snacks inspired by her daughter’s experience with food allergies. Since launching in July 2017, Partake’s first product - delicious, nutritious, allergy-friendly cookies - can be found in over 2,500 retailers including Target, Sprouts, and Whole Foods Market. The company has been featured by People, Black Enterprise and Entrepreneur and, in June 2019 closed a seed round of funding led by JAY-Z’s Marcy Venture Partners. Prior to launching Partake, Denise spent a decade in consumer packaged goods at various Fortune 100 companies. Most recently, she held the title of Director, National Sales in Coca-Cola’s Venturing & Emerging Brands division. Denise holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and an MBA from Arizona State University. She lives in Jersey City, NJ with her husband, Jeremy, and their 5 year old daughter, Vivienne.
President + Head of Strategy, Retail Voodoo
David Lemley, author of the new book, Beloved & Dominant Brands , has had a creative and strategic hand in shaping some of the world’s most iconic and fastest-growing brands including Essentia Water, Sahale Snacks, Yakima Chief Hops, Starbucks, REI, and Dry Soda. As the Founder and Chief Strategist of Seattle-based Retail Voodoo, David is on a mission to help better-for-you brands win customer’s hearts, minds, and souls. He partners with marketers, investors, and founder-owners to unlock the power of their brand’s promise to engage consumers, spark innovation, identify opportunity, and drive exponential growth.
Chief Innovation Officer, Vertosa
Austin in the Chief Innovation Officer at Vertosa. He leads all commercial activities, including sales, marketing, and new business development. Prior to joining Vertosa, Austin leveraged his bio-tech experience building the regulatory Hemp/CBD testing program for Eurofins Scientific - a world leader in food, environment, and product testing services – where he built and designed quality testing protocols for CVS and other retailers who carried Hemp/CBD products. For over 10 years, Austin has advised start-ups, built businesses, and launched hundreds of new products in finance, technology, and cannabis cpg industries. With an undergraduate degree from Columbia University in New York City, and a Masters of Science from the University of Bath in the United Kingdom--Austin is passionate about creating impact around the world through new business development, and designing products that consumers love.
CEO & Founder, Black Bamboo
Eric is the CEO and Founder of Black Bamboo, a growth agency that helps marketers, investors and entrepreneurs develop and activate their brands with a forward-looking view on the world. A specialist in brand and innovation strategy he has advised numerous brands from Fortune 500 (Pepsi, Mars, Unilever, Heineken, Smucker…) to PE-backed or independent brands (e.g. Bragg, VEGA, Spindrift, Health Warrior, Dang, Saffron Road to name a few). Eric often writes in marketing and business publications and has been guest lecturer at Columbia Business School and NYU.
Founder & CEO, Simple Mills
Katlin Smith is the Founder and CEO of Simple Mills, a Chicago-based company at the forefront of a clean food movement that is shaping the next generation of natural foods. Named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 Class of 2017, Smith launched Simple Mills in 2013 to provide a cleaner alternative to the natural baking mixes then on the market. Today, despite a crowded market space with long-established competitors, Simple Mills ranks as the #1 fastest-growing natural baking mix and cracker brand. Additionally, Simple Mills ranks as the #1 natural baking mix, the #1 natural cracker, and #2 natural cookie by dollar sales, according to SPINS syndicated data. Simple Mills products are currently distributed in more than 13,000 conventional and natural grocery stores including Whole Foods, Sprouts, Target, Kroger and Safeway as well as through Amazon and Thrive Market. All products are free of gluten, grain, dairy, soy, GMOs, excessive sugar, and artificial flavors and fillers, addressing consumer concerns about food sensitivities and the safety of the food supply chain. The current lineup includes baking mixes, frostings, almond flour crackers, sprouted seed crackers and ready to eat crunchy cookies. Smith is a former Deloitte Consulting management consultant, winner of the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business New Venture Challenge, and a columnist for Inc. magazine.
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.
Stew Leonard Jr.
President & CEO, Stew Leonard's
What should businesses be doing to support their black employees right now? All business leaders should take the time to have one on one conversations with their black employees. The conversation is the starting point. During these one-on-one conversations, it’s important to ask how they are feeling, what can you as a leader do to help, and what the organization can do to show support to the community. Many black employees might feel an overwhelming amount of emotional fatigue during this time. It’s important to be sensitive to this and give space where needed. Even if you don't know the right words to say, at least reach out. Even something as small as a heart emoji, just to show that you actually care, because the silence speaks louder. What’s your advice for a founder of color first starting out? Many people are not open to changing the way things have already been done. The best thing that has worked for me is to work very hard and stay true to your values. There will be people who will reject you, people naturally fear the unknown. But there will also be people who accept you and be more than willing to help you succeed because you are a genuine person. Try a common phrase, “Just do you.” Avoid getting caught up in the negativity of those who won’t or are not open to accepting you. If you stay true to your path, it’s inevitable that you will attract the right people to help you along your journey. What can businesses do more to hire black workers? It’s a really difficult subject. I've only had one other black person apply for a job and honestly they weren't the best fit for the position and we chose someone else. It wasn't because of race. It was just, at the end of the day, you have to choose the best person for the job but have not had a lot of people apply. Is there a way that the industry can seek out talent in underserved communities or at least have some type of internship program to help give opportunity to people of color? That's the way that we can combat that because I just don't see a lot of people applying and I'm guessing it's because you only know what you know. What should businesses be doing to support their black customers right now? Be sensitive to the matter, and show you care. Something that was really strong for me in the beginning: we were working with a social media agency and they would use all of their employees for the photo shoots and they had no black employees. So we would never get photos featuring black people or even people of color other than one Asian person every once in a while. I said it was ridiculous. We need to represent people of color through the photos. We need to represent all of our customers. This thing I like to say is black hands matter. Because, you know, we have to do food shots with hands. Representation matters. Do a better job. If someone or a brand messes up, what should they do? I’ve definitely seen this a lot this week. The best thing that I've seen is when people actually own up to their mistakes and they state their reasoning, both sides, and then get educated on what they did wrong and talk about it. I know people hate to admit fault, but that's the best way to do it is just own up to your shit. There's many different ways to support and not feel pressure to show up the way everybody else does. As long as everybody's contributing in some way, that should move everything forward. What about some industry-specific actions? How can the food and beverage industry better support black founders and black-owned businesses? Investors: Angel investors, VC and PE really need to step up and make an effort to seek out these founders. Having training courses or even a recruitment firm that helps to place minorities in the industry - it starts there because there are a lot of people like me personally. I know, because a lot of them reach out to me. They want to start food and beverage companies, but they just really don't know where to start, who to talk to, or anything. It's very intimidating. If we can ease that and open the doors, we're moving in the right direction. There has been some progress in supporting women's participation on board of directors. The same initiative should be taken for people of color. Investors can also pledge a certain amount of dollars per year to fund minority-owned businesses. I notice a large gap in awareness between both the investors and the founders. Many founders lack the resources to secure a meeting and many funds don't know exactly where to find these impactful, minority-owned businesses. Grocery Buyers: I'd suggest they make it a priority and policy to take meetings with brands and product companies that demonstrate diversity and maintain leadership or ownership with people of color. One company that does this well is Target TGT. Target values inclusivity in business and aims to expand opportunities for diverse suppliers. They also prioritize working with these suppliers to find innovative solutions that positively impact the communities they serve. Distributors: Distributors should identify these same brands, share the diversity of the brands that they carry, identity, and clearly communicate those brands to their channel partners.
Former Chairman and CEO, Nestlé Waters North America
Kim Jeffery is the retired Chairman and CEO of Nestlé Waters North America, the leading bottled water company in North America and the third largest non-alcoholic beverage company in America. Nestle Waters owns 7 of the top 10 bottled water brands as well as Perrier and San Pellegrino, and had sales of $4.7 billion and 8,000 employees at the time of his retirement in 2014. He has over 45 years of experience in all facets of the consumer products industry including sales, marketing, M&A, manufacturing, logistics, sustainability and finance. Additionally, he managed the journey from entrepreneurial startup to mature multibillion market leader by focusing on organizational development and utilizing a values based leadership model which created a high performance culture.
VP, Brand Marketing, good2grow
Edzra Gibson, vice president of brand marketing at the #1 kids’ beverage brand in the U.S., good2grow, brings 14 years of brand marketing and CPG experience to the company. Prior to joining the good2grow team as director of brand marketing in 2015, Edzra supported multiple brands at Fortune 500 companies Abbott Laboratories and Kraft Heinz. In his current role at good2grow, he leads the brand marketing team in identifying future consumer-based growth opportunities that deliver against brand and financial objectives – including portfolio development and consumer activation strategies for national scale and customer-specific shopper marketing initiatives.
Founder & CEO, Saffron Road
Mr. Durrani is the founder and CEO of Saffron Road Foods. According to IRI/SPINS Scantrak, Saffron Road is the fastest growing natural frozen entrée brand in USA and nationally ranked #2. Mr. Durrani is a serial food entrepreneur and venture capitalist for almost 30 years. Mr. Durrani founded Vermont Pure in 1991(sold to COTT beverages) and his venture firm Condor Ventures was a principal shareholder in Stonyfield Farms, Inc. , sold to Groupe Danone in 2001. He was also a principal of Delicious Brands, Inc., which he scaled, with the financial backing of Carl Icahn, to become the 5th largest cookie brand in the U.S. Saffron Road is sold nationally, in over 25,000 major US retail food stores, including Whole Foods Markets, Walmart, Costco, HEB, Target, Kroger, and all 14 banners of Albertsons/Safeway. Saffron Road is the leading world cuisines brand in the Natural/Organic sector, as well as being the #1 organic chickpea snacks brand. Whole Foods has noted Saffron Road as one of the most successful new brand launches in recent history, having made the Inc 500’s list of fastest growing co.’s for three years. Adnan has been recognized as one of the entrepreneurs who engineered “20 Ideas That Changed The Way The World Does Business”. The select list of these inductees include: Ben Cohen (Ben & Jerry’s), Gary Hirshberg (Stonyfield Farms), Muhammad Yunus (Nobel Peace Prize, Grameen Bank), and Steve Case (AOL). Mr. Durrani is the Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Columbia University’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and is also Co-Chair of Columbia’s SEAS Entrepreneurship Advisory Board. He was recognized by the Vatican and Ambassador to the Holy Sees for his “Interfaith In Business” model, where the Pope hosted him as a speaker at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Italy.
CEO, President, Founder, Rustic Crust / American Flatbread
As President/Founder of Rustic Crust, the company that produces Rustic Crust Shelf stable pizza crust and American Flatbread frozen pizzas, Brad continues his personal mission of offering healthier options to the over-processed foods crowding America’s supermarkets and expanding America’s waistlines. “We know people want to eat healthier, but they may not have the time. Eating healthy has to be simple, easy and convenient,” says Brad. “That’s why American Flatbread and Rustic Crust appeal to so many. I believe that your family, like mine, deserves more than the processed food mentality.”? With more than 28 years in the food industry, Brad’s experience includes food manufacturing, franchise development, sales/marketing, loss control and restaurant management. In 2014, Brad brought the company back from a devastating fire that caused a total loss for the business. The turnaround included building out two facilities in one year while maintaining YOY growth. When he’s not covered in flour, you’ll find Brad strolling through farmers’ markets, visiting local growers, and creating new recipes for both Rustic Crust and American Flatbread. Brad is passionate about sourcing local and organic ingredients and purposefully blending them in interesting ways to create new and exciting flavor profiles. Publication Appearances: Frozen Refrigerated Magazine (2007–2019) Business NH Magazine (2006–2018) USA Today (2014) Wall Street Journal (2014) Brad is remarried, has two children, recently out of college and employed!
Founder, TIG (The Intertwine Group)
Elliot Begoun a 30-year industry veteran, author, and the Founder of TIG, a 1:1 customized alternative accelerator focused on helping emerging natural product brands grow. TIG works with its entrepreneurs to build nimble, capitalefficient, resilient brands that become tardigrades not unicorns. Catch him at FoodBytes, the Hirshberg Entrepreneurship Institute, the Natural Products Business School, and find his articles in publications such as the Huffington Post, SmartBrief, and New Hope.
President Emeritus, Founder and former CEO, INFRA
Corinne has over 38 years’ experience in the natural products industry and is a leader in organizing and facilitating partnerships that successfully strengthen all stakeholders. She has the vision to see what is needed, the tenacity to fight for what is right when others doubt and the diplomatic and business skills to make it happen. After 15 years of profitable retail management she was the Executive Director of two regional co-op grocers’ associations. Simultaneously she founded the Midwest Purchasing Co-op. In 2004 all three merged into National Co+op Grocers, of which Corinne was the founding President. She has spent her recent 15 years as the founder and former President/CEO of INFRA (Independent Natural Food Retailers Cooperative). According to NFM “She built community and collaboration among retailers that makes the whole industry stronger” Corinne has served on numerus Boards, including MSI, (Mutual Service Insurance), NCDF as Chair for 10 years (now Shared Capital) and Chair of the Non-GMO Project for the past 10 years. Currently she is serving on the Climate Collaborate board, is a member of J.E.D.I. leadership initiative and is providing guidance to INFRA as its President Emeritus.
Breakout Session Speakers
Founder and CEO, A Dozen Cousins
Ibraheem Basir is the founder and CEO of A Dozen Cousins, a natural food brand that makes convenient products inspired by traditional Creole, Carribean and Latin American dishes. The brand is inspired by his childhood growing up in the culinary melting pot of Brooklyn and is named after his daughter and her 11 cousins. Prior to launching A Dozen Cousins, Ibraheem obtained his MBA from the Wharton School of Business and served as a Marketing Manager on a number of natural food brands including Larabar and Annie's Organic.
CEO, Atlantic Sea Farms
Briana has dedicated her life to doing well by doing good. She is passionate about her incredible home state of Maine and working to help the coast adapt to and mitigate some of the effects of, climate change. After serving several tours in the U.S. Foreign Service, Bri opened and sold a wholesale bakery in Portland focused on pies with an international flair and employing recent refugees resettled in the Portland area. Before taking the helm at Atlantic Sea Farms in 2018, she worked to diversify coastal incomes as the Economic Development Director at the Island Institute, a non-profit focused on sustaining island and coastal communities both in Maine and elsewhere. She is responsible for overseeing 10x growth in two years at Atlantic Sea Farms and popularizing fresh, Maine-grown kelp products throughout the country in partnership with fast casual chains, tastemaker restaurants, meal-kits, and grocery stores.
Founder and CEO, Flying Embers
Bill Moses is an influential leader, proven innovator, and inspiring mentor in the beverage industry. As Founder & CEO of Fermented Sciences Inc. (FSI), Bill steers the helm of an advanced innovation lab that's transforming the alcohol industry with “better-for-you” products. Flying Embers, a hand-crafted, hard beverage brand, sprung from Bill's cutting edge work at Fermented Sciences Inc. He is currently the Founder and CEO of Flying Embers, as well. Prior to Fermented Sciences Inc. and Flying Embers, Bill was the Co-Founder, former Chairman, and CEO of KeVita Probiotic Drinks, a high-growth beverage brand acquired by PepsiCo Inc. in Dec. 2016. Established in 2009, Bill helped the brand achieve epic results, growing KeVita from a small California brand to an international leader sold in 20,000+ retail locations across North America.
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, Konnect Agency
Sabina Gault is the CEO of Konnect, an award-winning communications and marketing agency with offices in Los Angeles, New York, Austin, TX and Denver, CO. A seasoned and passionate PR and marketing practitioner, Sabina’s approach to client service, strategic communications, and measurable results are apparent in Konnect’s rapid rise from a startup to a mid-size agency with an average annual growth rate of 60 percent. With more than 40 employees across its 4 offices, Sabina leads a team of dedicated staffers who provide a boutique-level personalized service combined with an adept ability to effectively build brands that has resulted in a long list of legacy clients. Since founding the agency in 2009, Konnect has been named the #1 PR Agency on the Inc. 5000 “Fastest Growing U.S. Companies” list – five years in a row- and was included on the Austin, TX and Los Angeles Business Journal’s “Best Places to Work” listing among many other accolades. Sabina is a graduate of Berkeley and currently resides in Westwood, California with her husband and two children who keep her grounded and contribute to the motivation that drives her success.
Founder & CEO, Recess
Benjamin Witte is the Founder & CEO of Recess, a consumer wellness brand creating products and experiences designed to help people feel balanced, centered and inspired so they can be their most productive and creative selves — despite an increasingly stressful world. Prior to Recess, Witte served as a Partner at Life Capital and Head of Mobile at AdRoll. He serves on the Board of Directors for the US Hemp Roundtable, the main industry coalition pushing the hemp industry forward.
Co-Founder and CEO, JuneShine
Greg co-founded hard kombucha brand, JuneShine, in a garage in 2018 with a simple purpose, to brew honest alcohol for a healthier planet. Fast forward two years and JuneShine has grown into one of the category leaders poised for national expansion in 2020. He was recently recognized on the 2020 Forbes 30 Under 30 Food & Drink List for his early success at JuneShine.
Founder, Brooklyn Delhi
For the past 10 years, Chitra has been specializing in teaching, serving and writing about food based on her family’s recipes from India. She wrote a cookbook Vibrant India (Penguin Random House) and founded Brooklyn Delhi, an Indian-American food brand in 2014 to bring the flavors she was creating to a wider audience. The brand quickly attracted a cult following at local New York markets and at specialty stores across the country and now Brooklyn Delhi's award-winning condiments and sauces can be found in Whole Foods, Albertson's, Walmart and in Blue Apron meal kits. Chitra's products have been featured by food critics at the NY Times, Saveur, Food & Wine and more. She holds an MBA from NYU Stern.
Founder & CEO, Ohi
Ben Jones is the founder of Ohi, the next-generation e-commerce fulfillment solution enabling e-commerce brands to offer their customers a premium, environmentally responsible, same-day delivery experience through a data-driven inventory management platform and micro warehousing. Jones started his career in Sales and Trading at HSBC, where he built a $20M annual revenue business from scratch and quickly became a rising star in the industry. Everything changed after a serious back injury, which left him temporarily paralyzed and requiring a major spinal operation. During the 16 months recovery that followed, Jones was unable to walk far or carry anything heavy and therefore became increasingly reliant on e-commerce. The frustration of having to wait 3 to 5 days to receive online orders vs. being able to get them same-day in stores made him realize that e-commerce was increasingly falling behind Amazon. In order to bridge this gap, Jones left banking to pursue his dream of solving that pain point.
Co-Founder and CEO, Omsom
Vanessa is a co-founder of Omsom, a new Asian pantry staple that makes cooking your favorite Asian dishes with uncompromised flavors and hard-to-find ingredients possible in any home kitchen. She and her sister Kim, first-generation Vietnamese-Americans, created Omsom to reclaim the cultural integrity of Asian cuisines that are too often diluted in the grocery aisle. In the few short weeks since launch in May 2020, Omsom has been praised by several publications including Food & Wine, Epicurious, TechCrunch and Forbes. On the heels of their launch, Vanessa was also named one of 9 entrepreneurs making “waves in their respective industries” by People Magazine. Vanessa is a Harvard alum and prior to starting Omsom advised Fortune 500 CPGs on their growth and retail strategy as a management consultant at Bain & Company. She’s also managed a $3M e-commerce business while studying Sociology and Economics at Harvard. She loves thinking about the cultivation of vulnerable and wholehearted work culture, painting watercolors, and cooking all things fermented, caramelized and braised.
Dan Baum is the CEO of MULTIPLY, a creative-led Social and PR agency focused on growing food, beverage, and CPG brands. Sample current clients include: Molson Coors, AriZona, Beam Suntory and Bolthouse Farms. Dan is originally from St. Louis and started his career in politics working for Kennedy speechwriter and strategist Bob Shrum. He lives in Washington, DC with his wife, Carmel Greer, and their four children.
Shouvik handles marketing and operations for Synapse, and is a senior beverage industry leader with a proven passion and established leadership credentials. He has worked in the industry for over twenty years, of which eighteen years were with Coca-Cola in different geographies including the U.S. Business Unit, India, and global marketing teams. He has worked in sales, bottling operations, built brands, led large teams, executed global launches, run category businesses, and led successful innovations, producing compelling results. Shouvik is responsible for breakthrough innovation in Coca-Cola– like Plant Bottle and SplashBar– which he led from strategy to a multi-country launch. He was instrumental in the company’s introduction and the growth of the brewed beverages category.
CEO, Liquid Death
CEO, Liv Foods Inc.
Liv Foods CEO Wade Brooks -- a professor of entrepreneurial practice and the founder of a university-based angel investment fund -- will discuss key factors early stage brands should take into account when attempting to raise money from angel investors, particularly during uncertain financial times. Brooks has taken the temperature of angel investors around the current pandemic-induced downturn and will combine these new insights with his experienced viewpoint to give attendees a clear set of fundraising strategies.
Principal, Media Intelligence & Innovation, IRI
In his role at IRI, Darrell leads multi-functional communities that contribute to the design, launch and on-going enablement of solutions to solve for client business challenges; bringing together best of breed talent, partnerships and technology to deliver competitive advantage for global agency holding companies and their advertiser clients. Prior to IRI , Darrell spent two decades on the client and agency side of the desk creating and reinvigorating image-driven brands at The Omnicom Group, The Coca-Cola Company, The Interpublic Group of Companies, and AB InBev.
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Nutrition Communications Manager, Siggi's
Jenna Amos is the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Nutrition Communications Manager at siggi’s dairy, where she leads all nutrition communications efforts and serves as siggi’s in house nutrition expert. During her time at siggi’s, Jenna has successfully grown siggi’s dietitian focused programs and efforts to become major points of difference and valuable levers for the brand in the competitive yogurt landscape. Jenna’s prior experience in both clinical and retail settings has given her the understanding of how connecting brands with the influence of dietitians can improve our diet quality. Jenna has maintained brand authenticity while launching both siggi’s sessions, a free continuing education series for dietitians, and siggi’s starters, a community nutrition grant program that awards $20K grants to dietitians. Jenna has shared her nutrition expertise in numerous publications, including Business Insider and Elite Daily. Jenna received her BS from Boston University and completed her dietetic internship at VCU Health in Richmond, VA.
Co-Founder, Tip Top Cocktails
Neal Cohen is the Co-Founder and CMO of Tip Top Proper Cocktails, a line of canned classic cocktails based in Atlanta, GA. Prior to Tip Top, Neal worked in festival marketing at Superfly, building brands such as Bonnaroo, Outside Lands and Comedy Central’s Clusterfest via visual identities, social media, and content creation. The intersection of music, food, and art would ultimately shape the core of his career path. Neal also spent time working for a cocktail-related event series called Cocktail Magic; it was here that he met a number of superstars in the industry and first became interested in the beverage world. Since cocktails had always been fairly unattainable in festival settings, Neal and his childhood friend (and fellow music industry veteran) Yoni Reisman began developing the concept that would become Tip Top Proper Cocktails.
President & Co-Founder, Joyride Coffee Distributors
David Belanich is Co-Founder and President at Joyride Coffee. He holds a degree in Political Science with an emphasis in Philosophy from Middlebury College and a Master of Arts in Political Science from Yale University. In 2015, David was recognized by the Specialty Coffee Association of America with the Distinguished Newcomer Award.
CEO & Co-Founder, Foodstirs Junk-Free Bakery
Greg Fleishman is CEO of Foodstirs, the better-for-you baked goods brand he co-founded with Galit Laibow and Sarah Michelle Gellar. Foodstirs’ sole purpose is helping people connect and take comfort in the power of modernized fresh-baked, Junk-Free sweet snacks. Everything they make is lower sugar and USDA organic including baking kits, mixes, and the category’s first ever ready-made mini-donuts. Prior to Foodstirs, Fleishman started Purely Righteous Brands, a boutique brand building firm dedicated to fostering the growth of green space companies some of whom include Union Whole Earth Snacks, REBBL, Chameleon Cold-Brew, Suja, and Counter Culture. Fleishman has held general management and head of marketing roles at Sambazon, Coca-Cola’s Fuze & Energy portfolio, and Kashi, a unit of Kellogg Company where he launched over 2,500 new items across 17 food & beverage categories into 12 countries. In 2018, Fleishman was named to Forbes List of Top Consumer Catalysts. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Demeter Biodynamic, Nuun Hydration, 4th & Heart, Once Upon a Farm, and Lily’s Sweets.
Director of Analytics, Headset
Prior to working for Headset, Liz worked as a Data Scientist in CPG retail and financial services, as well as spent some time in Financial and Economic Consulting. After eight years working as a Data Scientist, Liz started her own Data Science consulting business where she advised small businesses on how to use their data to make better product, marketing, and operational decisions. Along with her work at Headset, Liz currently works with researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and London Business School doing experimental research on heuristics and biases that impede business decision makers from optimally using data to drive decisions.
Founder & CEO of Hazel & Dot Growth Consulting, Former Director of Nutrition at The Kroger Co
Allison is an award-winning business leader in the wellness and nutrition space, having served as the Director of Nutrition at The Kroger Co., America’s largest grocery retailer, the Vice President of Business Development at Baze, a Berlin-based personalized nutrition startup, and now as Founder & CEO of her wellness-focused business growth firm, Hazel & Dot Growth Consulting. Allison is classically trained in the Culinary Arts, holds a Master’s degree in Nutrition Science, and has spoken on stages and panels throughout the nation as a thought leader on health and wellness trends, profitable wellness-driving business models, and the role of personalization in health. Throughout the course of her career, Allison has led and managed several multi-million dollar projects, including the development and launch of OptUP, Kroger’s national nutrition scoring digital application, and has pioneered profit-driving business models with both food and beverage CPGs and health insurance companies. In 2019, Allison was selected as one of Business Insider’s “30 Leaders Under 40 Changing The Future of Healthcare,” and has been selected by Progressive Grocer as a Top Women in Grocery “Rising Star” recipient. Today, Allison partners with emerging businesses in food, agriculture, and healthcare to achieve meaningful growth through clear product-related points of difference and value-driving partnerships.
President & CEO, Al's Beverage
Gerry is currently President and CEO of Al's Beverage Co. and has been in the beverage space for almost 40 years having previously led Polar 's Sales and Marketing for 17 years and prior to that worked with Pepsi Cola on both the Bottling and Distributor sides. Gerry has a history of working closely with start ups and has a solid network of brand and channel contacts throughout the industry. While at Polar, Gerry was also the gatekeeper for new brand launches and would review as many as 300 items annually. Gerry has been a past Bevnet panelist on several occasions. Gerry is also a Board V.P. for the International Beverage Dispensing Equipment Association, IBDEA, which is focused on bringing dispensing innovation, safety and industry trend knowledge to its 200 plus members. Gerry's current employer, Al's Beverage Company is a leading independent Fountain and Frozen manufacturer with active relationships with KDP, Coca Cola, Pepsi Cola and many other nationally dispensed brands. Al's, located in East Windsor CT, manages both a DSD and Distributor network throughout a good portion of the U.S.
Co-founder & Managing Director, Whipstitch Capital
Nick McCoy is a Co-Founder and Managing Director with Whipstitch Capital. Nick has over 20 years of investment banking experience. Nick co-founded the investment Bank, Silverwood Partners, where he headed up the consumer division with Mike Burgmaier. In 2015 Nick joined forces with Mike Burgmaier to form Whipstitch Capital with the goal of creating the industry’s largest independent investment bank exclusively focused on leading companies in the healthy and innovative consumer market. Previously Nick was in the Investment Banking Group at First Albany (now Jeffries), Director of M&A at Allmerica Financial Corp, and a Senior Associate, Corporate Development at Wheelabrator Technologies. Nick often speaks and is quoted on various investiture and acquisition-related topics. Nick is an avid road cyclist and thinks it’s ok to cross country ski in below-zero temperatures. He’s a health-focused foodie, cooks frequently and has an extensive knowledge of wine and whiskey (just ask him). Nick is a Chartered Financial Analyst and has an MBA from Wake Forest University and an undergraduate degree from the University of New Hampshire.
Founder, Natural Products Consulting Group
As a consultant since 1998, Bob Burke provides assistance in bringing natural, organic and specialty products to market across most classes of trade. This includes work in growth strategies, sales modeling, pricing, building distribution, broker selection and management, organizational development, financing, branding, trade spending and assistance around M&A, diligence and go-to-market plans for international companies entering the US market. He is also the co-author of the Natural Products Field Manual, Eighth Edition. Prior to consulting, Bob was with Stonyfield Farm Yogurt for 11 years as Vice President, Sales & Corporate Development. He received an MBA from Babson College. He currently serves as an outside director for EcoFish, Saffron Road, All Terrain, Halsa Foods, Uncle Matt’s Organics, Cali’flour Foods and King Arthur Flour. He serves on the advisory boards of The Chaat Co., and Thirsty Ventures. He is a former director of Stonyfield Farm, Orgain, Equal Exchange, Stirrings, and FoodState/MegaFood. He is on the Selection Committee at Nutrition Capital Network. He serves on the admissions committee of the Specialty Food Association. He also serves on the Editorial Advisory Board of Nutrition Business Journal. He is on the board of the non-profit Hirshberg Entrepreneurship Institute and also on the board of advisors of the Boy’s and Girl’s Club of Lawrence, Massachusetts. Bob was named one of the "Top 25 Business Builders of the Natural Products Industry for the last 25 years” by Natural Foods Merchandiser Magazine. He was also named an inaugural Senior Fellow at Food Sol at Babson College. Bob has delivered presentations, seminars and moderated panels at leading trade shows and conferences in the US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland and the UK. He also runs full day seminars and networking events on “Becoming a more Effective Sales Manager” and “Financing your Natural and Specialty Products Company”. Bob lives in Andover, MA with his wife Kathy and their spoiled dog. Please see www.NaturalConsulting.com
Co-Founder & Managing Director, Whipstitch Capital
Michael Burgmaier is a Co-Founder and Managing Director with Whipstitch Capital. After a career in public policy and completing an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth in 2001, he became a consultant at Bain & Company, Inc. Since early 2004, Mike has been active in the M&A and private equity/venture capital consumer space. In 2008, he was named as a “40 Under 40” leader in the Natural Products Industry by Natural Foods Merchandiser. In 2009, he partnered with Nick McCoy to lead the consumer practice at an investment bank and focused on the better-for-you/premium consumer space. In 2015, Mike and Nick joined forces to form Whipstitch Capital with the goal of creating the industry’s best investment bank exclusively focused on leading consumer companies in the healthy living industry. He often writes about, gives talks and is quoted on various investiture and acquisition-related topics. Since 2004, the Whipstitch Capital Team has completed over 100 transactions in the healthy living sector with companies such as Thayers Natural Remedies, PepsiCo, CORE Nutrition, Spindrift, VMG Partners, Flying Embers, GoodBelly, General Mills, Vita Coco, Purple Carrot, LesserEvil, Country Archer, Uncle Matt’s Organics, KeVita, Keurig Dr. Pepper, Sunrise Strategic Partners, Peeled Snacks, Blake’s All Natural, ConAgra Brands, Yasso, KarpReilly, Saffron Road, Emil Capital, Sunsweet, TSG Consumers Partners, Monogram Capital, PowerPlant Ventures, and more. He earned an MPP from Duke University and an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and has an undergraduate degree in Economics from Boston College. He works out of Yarmouth, Maine where he lives with his enthusiastically supportive partner Rachel, his three active children and their beaglador Morgan. Mike is an avid bike rider (in his basement), former runner (oh those knees…), gym-goer, T-shirt wearer, massive Foo Fighters fan and semi-health food nut.
Founder & CEO, TerraCycle
Tom Szaky is founder and CEO of TerraCycle, a global leader in the collection and repurposing of complex waste streams. TerraCycle operates in 21 countries, working with some of the world’s largest brands, retailers and manufacturers to create national platforms to recycle products and packaging that currently go to landfill or incineration. TerraCycle is the lead company in a new circular shopping platform called Loop that enables consumers to shop for some of their favorite brands in durable, reusable packaging. Launched in May 2019, Loop is a key step in helping to end the epidemic of waste that is caused by single-use consumption. Szaky and TerraCycle have received hundreds of social, environmental and business awards and recognition from a range of organizations including the United Nations, World Economic Forum, Schwab Foundation, Fortune Magazine, Time Magazine and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Szaky is the author of four books, “Revolution in a Bottle” (2009), “Outsmart Waste” (2014), “Make Garbage Great” (2015) and “The Future of Packaging” (2019). Szaky created, produced and starred in TerraCycle’s reality show, “Human Resources” which aired on Pivot from 2014-2016 and is syndicated in more than 20 foreign markets on Amazon and iTunes.
Founder, Maggiore Sales and Marketing
John has been in the grocery business for over 35 years, he founded Maggiore’s Sales & Marketing in 2003, as a consultant and broker to the Natural/Specialty trade. The primary focus on the brokerage side is with bringing Grocery, Dairy and Frozen brands to the market in the New England Supermarket Channel. Prior to setting out on his own John was the Category Manager of Natural Food for Stop & Shop Supermarkets based in Boston, MA. John pioneered the store with-in-a-store Natural Food departments at Stop & Shop, creating over 150 departments in less than five years. Natural Food sales grew at Stop & Shop from $6 million when John took over responsibility for the department to $67 million when he left. Before John became Category Manager of Natural Foods he had buying responsibilities in numerous categories including Specialty Cheese, Specialty Crackers, Gourmet Coffee, and Specialty Pasta as well as Frozen and Dairy Foods. Currently John is brokering some leading manufacturers in the Specialty/Natural Food channel including, Angie’s BoomChickAPop Popcorn, Red’s All Natural, Kettle & Fire Bone Broths, R.W. Garcia, Lily’s Chocolates, DrinkSimple and siggi’s Yogurt, and previously worked with other leading companies including Pirate’s Booty, Bear Naked Granola, Larabar, Justin’s, Kind Bar, Krave Jerky, Vita Coco and Ian’s Natural Foods. John is also on the Board of Directors of Vermont Nut Free Chocolates, Biena Snacks, Demers Food Group, BananaWave and serves as an adviser to Tucson Tamale, Bohana and Evoke Foods. John has delivered presentations and seminars at leading trade shows and conferences such as Natural Products Expo East & West, The NASFT’s Winter and Summer Fancy Food Shows, Bord Bia in Dublin, Ireland, Northeast Dairy/Deli/Bakery Association, Frozen & Refrigerated Association of New England, Canadian Consulates in Boston, and Kosherfest in New York. For the past seventeen years John, in conjunction with Bob Burke of Natural Products Consulting, has run full day seminars and networking events on “Becoming a More Effective Sales Manager in the Natural and Specialty Channel”. Since its inception over 30 seminars have been run in Boston, Chicago, Denver and San Francisco and they have educated over 1,000 participants from 400+ companies. Since 2016 John has been a business mentor for the Northeastern University McCarthy Venture
CEO & Founder, BevNET.com
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.
Senior Vice President of Commercial Development , BDSA
Jessica Lukas is the SVP of Commercial Development at BDSA, the premiere market research firm serving the global cannabinoid industry. Jessica is one of the most sought-after market research experts serving the cannabis market, priding herself in making data come to life with storytelling and actionable insights. Together with her team, she works with manufacturers, retailers, and investors to deliver unmatched insights and analytics to drive their businesses forward. Prior to joining BDSA and the wild world of cannabis data, Jessica Lukas spent over 10 years working with and for top global CPG and beverage alcohol companies in insights, analytics, and marketing leadership roles.
EVP of Business Development, SPINS
Kathryn Peters has served SPINS for 10 years across numerous key areas of the growing business. Her commitment to and passion for retail inspires her work developing and sustaining valuable retail relationships at the foundation of the SPINS ecosystem. Kathryn’s insight into helping retailers succeed with SPINS is informed by her previous vice president roles in merchandising and marketing at Ahold and BI-LO, LLC. as well as years of category management and sales experience with retailers during her time with Ralston Purina.
Retail Solutions Manager, SPINS
Jeff Crumpton has focused the majority of his 8+ year tenure at SPINS in retail facing positions. In his more recent roles, he has leveraged those skills to help develop products and solutions for SPINS retailer partners along with other critical industry partners such as distributors and certification partners. This experience coupled with his time at the Fresh Market on the purchasing side of the their business has informed his approach to developing products and solutions tailored to a specific client’s needs.
VP Product Intelligence Innovation, SPINS
Xochitl is an accomplished health & wellness industry professional, bringing years of CPG & Retail experience to her role at SPINS. As Vice President of Product Intelligence, Xochitl supports retail and brands by transforming product data into attributes that can be used to create actionable insights in critical themes like clean label, nutrition and sustainability. Prior to joining SPINS, Xochitl held business development, regulatory consulting, and product management roles at various biotech and food product testing & development organizations where she worked with retail, health, beauty, food, pet food and ingredient companies all over the world.
Todd has been an entrepreneur for the past 26 years starting his first business when he was just 16 years old. Creating a culture of community at each business is a personal goal and he looks to create that “family feeling” in and outside the office. When he’s not working you can find Todd engaged in some of his favorite past times such as running, biking or climbing.
Director of Innovation, Canteen
Jessi Moffitt is a foodservice & hospitality professional with over 18 years of industry experience, including leading national teams in program development, marketing, communications, user experience and training. As Director of Innovation at Canteen, a member of Compass Group, Jessi is responsible for creating next level breakroom & work from home experiences for the nation’s top workplaces. Jessi brings knowledge in emerging food & beverage trends, innovative equipment, and procurement to Canteen’s customers, resulting in an unparalleled customer experience. Prior to her time with Canteen, Jessi worked in healthcare food services for 10 years, including time supporting the largest contract services transition in the history of the industry. Based out of the Bay Area, Jessi can often be found spending time away from work with her husband, Greg, and their two spoiled dogs. She also enjoys cooking, traveling, finding hole-in-the-wall dining experiences, volunteering, hiking, and watching hockey.
Co-Founder, Proof & Union
Brian May is co-founder of Proof & Union LLC, maker of the innovative FULLBAR canned spirit and cocktail mixer brand. Prior to creating Proof & Union, Brian led global brand development for Founders Brewing Company, launching the brand in over 20 countries. Previously, Brian was in senior roles at Abercrombie & Fitch and Wolverine Worldwide, where he created Market Intelligence functions, led high-priority growth initiatives, and was responsible for corporate strategy and M&A. Brian also was a management consultant for 7 years and served a variety of clients as a growth specialist. Brian graduated from the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business with a BBA and is married with two children aged 8 and 6. Additionally Brian is a fitness enthusiast, is passionate about his faith, family, and friends, and enjoys investing in and advising great people.
Technical Services Manager, Cargill
Alan Skradis is a technical service manager for Cargill’s Starches, Sweeteners and Texturizers business. Throughout his 23-year tenure with the company, he’s served in a myriad of R&D roles, from product development and process optimization to analytical chemistry and quality assurance. In his current position, Alan puts his extensive experience to work for customers, serving as the go-to expert on the Cargill’s expansive portfolio of sweeteners, including stevia, erythritol, cane sugar, brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup, tapioca syrup and corn syrup. He frequently partners with customers to support their product development efforts, helping to solve formulation challenges, remedy technical issues and foster innovation.
Chief Strategy Officer, The GRO Agency
Danielle Muller is the VP of Strategy at The GRO Agency, leading the next generation of GRO creative strategists attuned to the modern CPG landscape. With a contagious curiosity and furious-mind, she is passionate about connecting people with the things that move them. Harnessing left-and-right brain synergy, industry insight, and collaborative creativity, she crafts attuned strategy with both authentic and pragmatic perspective. With over 15 years of experience in dynamic brand creation, marketing, and operational strategy, Danielle has worked with everyone from spunky start-ups to Fortune 500 luxury brands. Leveraging her broad cross-industry experience, she draws from the full scope of opportunity to bridge brands and consumers, driving revenue and defining culture.
Chief Creative Officer, The GRO Agency
Senior Food Scientist , Cargill
Leanne Wortman is a Senior Food Scientist with nearly a decade of experience at Cargill. In her current role, she focuses on stevia ingredient development and specializes in sugar reduction in beverage applications. She pairs that expertise with an extensive background in product development, a combination of knowledge and skills that enables her to help customers create great-tasting products sweetened with stevia.
Creative Director, Applied Food Sciences
Executive VP, Sales and Marketing, BevSource
Director of Marketing, Food & Beverage, Deerland
Growth-oriented marketing professional with distinguishing achievements in facilitating product demand, brand development, and stakeholder satisfaction fulfilling organizational goals, missions, and objectives. Brings over 20 years of creativity and experience bridging science and business in various management roles. Belief that collaboration and originality is key to business success.
Food Scientist, Deerland
Highly motivated food scientist with over 5 years of experience in research and product development in the hydrocolloid industry working closely together with domestic and international customers. Specialized in the stabilization of beverages (e.g., with dairy and alternative proteins at different pH values; fruit flavored drinks; shelf stable and refrigerated) and of diverse food products (e.g., yogurts, dressings, desserts, fruit products). Considered a key contributor to the growth of the business across functions (e.g., marketing, QC, production) driven by a passion for learning and teaching others, paired with a proactive attitude and a high level of standard.
VP of Technical Business Development, SoRSE Technology
Michael Flemmens brings over 20 years of experience as a research scientist in technical support and product development. Prior to SoRSE, he served as Director of Corporate Technology Development for Secant Group, LLC. Michael has worked on a patented new cancer treatment, had a Type IV Drug Master File approved by the FDA, and received JECFA approval for a new food ingredient. He has also designed the build-out of seven novel manufacturing lines, and has held multiple government contracts for novel security products. Michael earned a B.S. in Chemistry from Towson University.
CEO, This Saves Lives
Jensen Thome is a dynamic business platform executive with more than 20 years of progressive leadership experience in building and operating brands in the food and beverage industry. He is experienced in small to large consumer products companies, grassroots start-ups to established organizations in need of change, and distressed turnarounds that have led to acquisition. He was promoted often as a young leader and eventually to the C-suite at 25, the early exposure helped to entrench the value of dynamic action, leading through people and establishing a self-reflective, values-based style that is now present in every endeavor. Ambition and passion has evolved to focus on emerging brands over multiple platforms working to make a lasting impact in the world.
Minna founder and CIO, Ryan Fortwendel is a former executive of e-commerce for Marc Jacobs. After spending over a decade in the fashion industry in New York City and Chicago, in 2016, he was inspired to make a fresh start, traveling across Asia and India exploring health and wellness. Upon returning to New York City in 2017, Ryan noticed a change in the beverage space; everyone was drinking sparkling water, but the flavors often fell flat or were artificial. After visiting a local cafe that served hot brewed tea poured over ice and topped with sparkling water, he saw an immediate space for a “better for you” sparkling tea beverage. Ryan crafted the perfect recipe for a delicious, lightly brewed sparkling tea with a clean, transparent label. Knowing that people are drawn to beautiful things, Ryan knew creative branding was equal to the product itself. Focusing on consumer shopping behaviors, as CIO, he has spent extensive time on product development, crafting a social mission, and beautiful packaging that pops off the shelf in a sea of beverage options. Since launching in Summer ‘19, community engagement and inclusivity have been at the core of Minna (meaning “everyone” in Japanese), which donates 1% of sales to nonprofits advocating for inclusion. As a gay founder, Ryan’s philanthropy inspired the name and message behind the brand. Organic, non-GMO Minna is served in beautiful art deco inspired cans that reflect three refreshing sugar-free flavor profiles that pop, with another one on the way.
Business Partner, Strategy & New Initiatives, JPG Resources
Glenn is Business Partner at JPG Resources, co-leading their Strategy & M&A practices. He has more than 20 years of experience in the emerging food and beverage space, ranging from M&A to strategy, international expansion to innovation, both as a consultant and an operator. Prior to JPG, Glenn held leadership roles at RXBAR, Kashi, Kellogg, and in consulting (Deloitte, PwC) with responsibilities in the US and internationally. He has experience in food operations across various business models and life cycle stages (startup to mature), including designing and directing the international business for RXBAR and leading international expansion and long-term innovation in the Natural & Organic space for Kashi and Kellogg. He also directed the post-acquisition incorporation of RXBAR with Kellogg under a true stand-alone model. During his consulting career, Glenn led 30+ strategy and M&A projects across Consumer Products for corporate and PE clients in the US and abroad, leading industry focused teams and developing new service offerings and practice areas around CPG at both Deloitte and PwC.
Co-founder and CEO, Pathwater
Shadi Bakour is the CEO and Co-Founder of Path, a bottled water company that provides the first 100% reusable, recyclable bottled water in a sturdy aluminum bottle. An expert in the beverage industry, Shadi’s extensive experience and proven track record of growing disruptive beverage businesses has allowed him to drive the overall vision and strategy for Path. Shadi is responsible for overseeing all facets of the business, specializing in accelerating ideas through strategic foresight, drive, and determination. Previously, Shadi worked in Consulting and Private Equity at Booz Allen Hamilton and Abraaj Capital. Shadi excelled in academics and athletics from a young age, and received a full scholarship to Culver Military Academy, one of the most prestigious boarding schools in the nation. Shadi graduated Summa Cum Laude from The George Washington University, where he received a Bachelors of Business Administration in Finance and Economics. Shadi received a Full Scholarship, Dean’s List, and was a Board of Trustees Scholar.
Strategy & Innovation, JPG Resources
JPG Business Partner, Strategy & Innovation Rifle has spent more than 25 years building compelling brand-consumer connections and conceiving new products for businesses spanning start-ups to beloved brands such as Nestlé, Hormel, Constellation, Nautilus, Pepsi, Sunsweet, Sun-Maid, and Monster Energy. Known for his ability to create and grow brands by bridging the gap between strategy and the bottom line, Rifle has a knack for identifying opportunities and creating new value for companies. Rifle earned an MBA in strategy & finance from Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business.
Founder and CEO, Nona Lim
A native of Singapore, Nona first started her career as a management consultant in London. After a long stint there, she moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2005. In 2006, she started the first online meal delivery business before it was trendy and created the first food-based detox program in 2010. While running her business, Nona was also a competitive fencer for many years, representing Singapore. During training, she craved convenient, nutritious food that could fuel her performance, and which reminded her of home. Finding limited options, in 2014 she pivoted and launched her eponymous brand. Nona’s Singaporean food heritage drives the brand’s obsession with authentic flavor and serves as the platform for its continual exploration of the delicious cuisines found throughout Asia. She is also a certified nutrition consultant and is active in both the local community and the food industry. She was the President of the San Francisco Professional Food Society and is currently a Board Director of the Specialty Food Association.
Founder & Distiller, Venus Spirits
Sean Venus is the founder and distiller of Venus Spirits, located in Santa Cruz, California. Over the last 14 years he has helped develop and bring to market over 150 craft beers, organic and natural foods and beverages. In 2014 Sean founded Venus Spirits, a craft distillery focusing on small-batch organic whiskies, gins and agave spirits. Venus Spirits has been recognized with over 40 awards for their Wayward Whiskey, Venus Gin, and El Ladrón Agave Spirit. Most recently Venus launched a line of ready-to-drink cocktails. Sean is current president of the California Artisanal Spirits Guild.
Founder & CEO, 4th & Heart
Raquel founded ghee butter brand, 4th & Heart, in her kitchen n 2014 behind a simple purpose, to reinvent butter for a healthier planet. 4th & Heart has grown into one of the category leaders since its founding. A devout Ashtanga Yogini, snowboarder, lover of all things food, Raquel was born in Brazil and later migrated at age six to Northern California with her mother and brother in the early 80’s. She currently lives in Los Angeles with her family and is mother to two young boys. She prides herself on the ability to tackle family, work, self and play – she wants to milk each minute of each day.
Data Analyst, Headset
Prior to Headset, Blake worked in consulting at Accenture in San Francisco for two years with clients in the Communications, Media, and Technology sectors. After a few years in consulting, Blake decided to move to Seattle and join the digital music team at Amazon. At Amazon he worked on strategy and content licensing initiatives for products such as Prime Music and Amazon Music Unlimited, using data to better inform strategic decision making.
President, Zipline Logistics
2020 Retail Dietitian of the Year and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Healthy Path Markets
Based in Puerto Rico, Mariely Rosado-Martinez is a Registered Dietitian and currently works as a retail dietitian at Healthy Path Markets, a chain of three supermarkets in the west side of Puerto Rico where she works with consumers, the community and food buyers. The Healthy Path Market continues to grow with key services and programs directed by Mariely including the in-store nutrition clinic, Healthy You Challenge (for employees and extended to clients), corporate programs including alliances with several entities like Universities, medical offices and local TV news and radio stations. Mariely leads the procurement of products at industry trade shows, launches these products at stores and presents them as solutions for her clinic customers' individual needs. Mariely also serves as the writer of the monthly Healthy You Magazine keeping customers updated with nutrition articles and evidenced based new findings. She also works as a Registered Dietitian in a corporate and clinical program conducted for employees at Hewlett Packard. Rosado-Martinez received two bachelor’s degrees in biology and nutrition, and a Master of Health Sciences in Nutrition all from the University of Puerto Rico. She also completed certifications from different Universities including the Professional Food Buyer Training from Cornell Institute for Food Systems. She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Retail Dietitians Business Alliance where she was named the 2020 Retail Dietitian of the Year.
Helena Price Hambrecht
Helena Price Hambrecht is the co-founder and Co-CEO of Haus. Prior to Haus, Helena was a Silicon Valley creative who helped shape brands like Facebook, Fitbit, Google, Instagram, Microsoft, Nike, Pinterest, Slack, Square, Twitter and Uber. Her work has been featured on ABC, CNN, The New York Times, Fast Company, Fortune, Glamour, The Guardian, and Inc.
CEO, Sharma Brands
Widely known as “The DTC Guy” on the internet, a Forbes 30 Under 30 member, AdWeek’s Young & Influential and a resource brands and investors turn to for growth, Nik is a 23-year old DTC investor, advisor, and operator who has both assisted and led revenue growth at multiple organizations, including hint water and VaynerMedia. Prior to entering the world of commerce, Nik worked on social media campaigns for A-list celebrities including Pitbull, Priyanka Chopra, MAGIC!, to natively increase distribution as well as increase fan interaction and engagement for the purpose of driving album sales. Today, Nik words alongside brands and publishers to execute ROI-positive campaigns through cohesive digital strategies using paid, earned, and owned media properties.
CEO, Otter Products
As President and CEO of Otter Products, Jim Parke drives strategic development. His deep understanding of corporate structure and finance as well as experience developing early-stage companies has positioned Liviri to thrive in a growing direct-to-consumer marketplace. Parke also serves as CEO for Blue Ocean Enterprises Inc. where he manages all operations for the company, including the real estate and professional services functions of the company. He’s held this role since 2013 and has overseen the formation and acquisition of new business ventures ranging from start-up companies to multinational corporations.
Executive Director, CommonWealth Kitchen
VP, Content and Thought Leadership, IRI
Joan attributes curiosity as key to her 30-plus year career as a results-driven market researcher, CPG trade journalist and thought leader. Her goal has always been to empower CPGs, retailers and industry suppliers with information needed to make smart decisions that support shoppers and consumers. Her motto: Make the shopper the hero. Joan’s thought leadership work regularly serves as a foundation from which IRI teams develop innovative, holistic solutions for clients, and is regularly showcased during top-to-top client meetings, industry conferences and webinars, media, academic and custom studies. Joan has shared her expertise by leading dialogues on timely and compelling CPG issues. She hosts the IRI Growth Insights podcast and is frequently quoted in leading industry media. She supports industry organizations such as Network of Executive Women; and she’s on the Executive Board of Western Michigan University’s Food Marketing Conference as well as Les Dames d’Escoffier’s Chicago Chapter.
Co-Founder and CEO, Luna Bay
Bridget is the CEO and co-founder of Luna Bay. Bridget is a Chicago native turned San Diegan who wanted to create something that combined her passions: brand building, a health-conscious lifestyle, nature and her intrinsic ability to bring people together. Bridget flexed her entrepreneurial spirit and launched Luna Bay Booch in the summer of 2019. Bridget comes with a background in brand and community building with experience both in the US and overseas. She’s contributed to the success of brands like lululemon, CLIFbar, Ironman, Powerbar, Gillette, Mizuno, Rose and Fitzgerald (based in Uganda), and more. She graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison with a bachelors in marketing and communications.
Laboratory Technician, The Lab
Director Of Innovation and Pilot Services, The Lab
Matt Hall is the Director of Innovation & Pilot Services at The Lab. Matt has spent more than 20 years in the beverage and brewing industry and has held positions across the operations spectrum to include Quality. Matt is passionate about transforming ideas into reality and bringing about “positive change” whether related to beverages, being part of a community, raising two kids, or his hobbies.
Director of Sales, BevSource
Kathy Evgen, Director of Sales at BevSource, has more than 25 years of experience helping brands in a wide range of industries enhance their customer experience. For the past ten years, she has helped beverage companies develop, validate, and produce products that stand out in the market. With a passion for building relationships and improving client satisfaction, Kathy is an advocate for continuous learning, solid strategy, and powerful networks. She puts quality and trust at the center of her approach to partnering with visionaries as they bring new beverage concepts to life.
Supply Chain Manager, BevSource
President and Co-Founder, Zipline Logistics
Andrew Lynch is President and co-founder of Zipline Logistics, an award-winning North American 3PL that specializes exclusively in the transportation of retail consumer goods. He works alongside clients ranging from some of the largest food and beverage businesses in the world to the brightest up-and-coming CPG brands in North America. Lynch and his team leverage data intelligence and strong industry relationships to help clients uncover transportation savings, build scalable supply chain strategies, and ace retailer compliance programs. Starting his career in carrier procurement and management within a Fortune 100 logistics company, Lynch has held positions of responsibility in all areas of third party logistics.
Founder/CEO, Lil Bucks
Chicago-native Emily Griffith was living her best life surfing and working a marketing job in Sydney, Australia, when she came across her new favorite superfood, sprouted buckwheat. Blown away by the texture and next-level nutrition of sprouted buckwheat on top of an acai bowl, Emily became obsessed with this sustainable superfood, and is on a mission to share the love of buckwheat with crunch-lovin’, health-conscious Americans! Emily graduated from Indiana University Kelley School of Business in 2014, and then worked in digital marketing for 3 years at agencies in Chicago and Sydney, Australia. She then ran her own marketing and graphic design business for 2 years before transitioning to Lil Bucks full time. Emily loves travel, adventure sports, smoothie bowls and cocker spaniels.
VP of marketing, BDSA
Trade Marketing Manager & Special Projects, Cooper Spirits
Director of Trade Advocacy and Innovation , Cooper Spirits
Director, CPG, Shopify Plus, Shopify
Jason Badal is Director, Consumer Packaged Goods at Shopify Plus, the leading global multi-channel enterprise commerce platform. In this role, Jason manages the CPG segment within Shopify Plus to bring mass adoption of e-commerce to the industry. Prior to Shopify, Jason led business affairs and development at Rogers Sports & Media, a multiplatform media company that generates more than $1.2 billion in revenue per year, encompassing leading networks such as Sportsnet, NHL, FX and Citytv. He was also a technology and corporate lawyer at McCarthy Tetrault LLP and serves as an advisor to a number of startups in the sports and DTC industries. Linkedin and Twitter @jbadal.
Investors Participating in Speed Dating
Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Selva Ventures
Kiva Dickinson is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Selva Ventures, leading all deal sourcing and execution efforts and working closely with portfolio brands. Prior to founding Selva Ventures Kiva was a Partner at CircleUp, where he joined during the launch of the Company’s first discretionary equity fund CircleUp Growth Partners. While at CircleUp Kiva led Series B investments in Nutpods and Liquid I.V., working closely with both companies following investment. Prior to CircleUp, Kiva was a private equity investor in San Francisco at TPG Capital. There, he focused on a combination of consumer and digital media companies. Kiva was involved in TPG’s Series B investments in Lynda.com (subsequently acquired by LinkedIn) and Ipsy. Prior to TPG, Kiva began his career in Los Angeles at Barclays in consumer-focused investment banking.
Managing Director, Encore Consumer Capital
Robert co-founded Encore Consumer Capital in 2005. He is Chairman of Encore portfolio companies Ancient Harvest and Tender Belly and a director of butter LONDON, Navitas Organics, and Supergoop!. Robert was the Chairman of former Encore portfolio companies Aidells Sausage Company, Atlantic Aqua Farms, California Splendor, Caterina Foods, Isopure, PhillySwirl and tarte and was a director at Thanasi Foods.
Founder and Managing Director, Blueberry Ventures
Arif invests in and works with innovative brands and companies led by inspiring entrepreneurs and management teams, and collaborates closely alongside similarly focused co-investors and value chain partners. Bringing two decades of consumer and retail experience to the table, Arif partners with teams building the next generation nutrition landscape by providing early & growth stage capital and operational support to help empower growth and build great businesses. Select investments and board responsibilities include Vive Organic, Flying Embers, REBBL, 4th & Heart, High Brew Coffee, Ripple Foods, Barnana, Revive Kombucha (acquired by Peet’s Coffee), Rhythm Superfoods, Fishpeople Seafood, Biena Snacks, Sufferfest Beer Company (acquired by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company), Bonafide Provisions, Nutriati, Austin Eastciders, Pique Tea & RightRice.
Director, Encore Consumer Capital
Kate joined Encore Consumer Capital in 2016. Kate is a Director of Kyla, Lion Beverages and Murry’s and helps manage Encore’s investment in Full Sail. She was a Director of California Splendor, ThunderWorks and Van Law. Kate is responsible for deal origination and execution as well as portfolio company oversight. Prior to joining Encore, she worked at Lineage Capital where she focused on investing in owner-managed businesses in the lower middle market. Kate received a BA in Economics from Boston College and an MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Kate lives in San Francisco with her husband and son. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, running, hiking, and getting out of the city to explore Northern California.
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, Vita Coco, Hint and LifeAID where he serves (ed) as a Director. He has also advised companies including Bai, Califia Farms, Recess, and Dyla Brands (makers of Stur and Forto). Ken is also the senior beverage advisor for Verlinvest (investment vehicle of Belgian InBev family) in the USA. He is also the executive director of NIDA, a group of independent beverage distributors in the Northeast part of the USA.
Partner , 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners
Liz Myslik is driven to help mission-driven brands and the people who create them. She has spent 20 years leading and investing in emerging consumer brands across the food, beverage and fitness industries. In her role at 2X Consumer Growth Partners, she funds and supports great brands to transform their categories and grow. Her operating and leadership experience make Liz a valued partner to the entrepreneurs she works with, because she has faced many of the same challenges they do; including building and managing supply chains, running in-house and outsourced manufacturing, driving product trial and consumer loyalty, achieving distribution growth, developing new products, leading teams, and financing working capital and growth. Liz has been named as a Kingmaker in Consumer & Retail by Forbes, one of the Most Influential Woman in Food & Drink by Fortune, and a Wonder Woman in the Natural Products Industry by New Hope Media.
Vice President, AF Ventures
David is a Vice President with AF Ventures, where he supports the investment activities of the Fund, including sourcing and due diligence. He also works with the founders of our investments building their financial plans. Prior to joining AF Ventures, David worked at Incentrum Group in a strategic advisory role for select life sciences & healthcare corporate clients and pursued private equity and venture-oriented investing. Before that, David worked at BNP Paribas in both their M&A and capital markets groups. David holds a B.S. in Business Administration from Bucknell University.
Partner, NextWorld Evergreen
Tiffany is a Partner at NextWorld Evergreen, a San Francisco-based private capital firm that provides growth capital to companies in the branded consumer and retail ecosystem. NextWorld Evergreen is investing out of a $400 million, 100-year evergreen fund and seeks majority or minority investments in consumer companies that are pioneers in their categories (portfolio company examples include Credo Beauty, Alter Eco Chocolate and Van Leeuwen Ice Cream). Tiffany has over 15 years of private investing experience. Prior to joining NextWorld Evergreen in 2020, she was a Managing Director at Insignia Capital Group, a Bay Area, lower middle-market private equity firm, where she served on the boards of Century Snacks and Tillamook Country Smoker. She started her private equity career at Lake Capital in Chicago where she focused on investments in marketing services companies (examples include Hyper Marketing, ORC International and Respond2 Communications).
Managing Partner, Barrel Ventures
Nate started Barrel Ventures out of a passion to help others disrupt the status quo. Surrounded by entrepreneurs at a young age, Nate became an operator himself as a founder of L3 Hospitality Group and later Wise Apple, a company that set out to change kids' lunch. Nate is a graduate of the Goizueta School of Business at Emory University and received his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management where he was awarded a Kellogg Scholarship and named a Zell Fellow.
Senior Vice President - Wealth Management , UBS
Mr. Huntsman joined UBS Financial Services in February 2013. He advises high-net-worth families, family offices and institutions, and brings a wealth of expertise in high-net-worth investment consulting. Michael has substantial experience working with asset allocation, portfolio modeling, concentrated stock and restricted securities issues.
Founder and Managing Partner, Beechwood Capital
Larry Kahn is the Founder and Managing Partner of Beechwood Capital, a Boston-based investment fund that identifies and invests in venture and growth stage branded consumer product companies. Beechwood’s approach blends a unique background as former operators with significant experience in helping disruptive brands scale across food/beverage, beauty and retail categories. Beechwood’s recent and exited investments include Banza, Once Upon a Farm, Flying Embers, Revive Kombucha and Urban Remedy. For more information, please visit www.beechwoodcap.com
Principal, Beechwood Capital
Brian Locklear is a Principal at Beechwood Capital, a Boston-based investment fund that identifies and invests in venture and growth stage branded consumer product companies. Beechwood’s approach blends a unique background as former operators with significant experience in helping disruptive brands scale across food/beverage, beauty and retail categories. Beechwood’s recent and exited investments include Banza, Once Upon a Farm, Flying Embers, Revive Kombucha and Urban Remedy. For more information, please visit www.beechwoodcap.com
Director of Ventures, SnackFutures
Mel Gaceta is the Director of Ventures. He oversees and executes early stage investments as part of their innovation hub, SnackFutures. Previously, Mel helped establish and was Managing Director for Synchrony Ventures, the venture arm of GE Capital’s former retail finance business. Mel started his career in corporate venture in 2000 as part of the founding team at Motorola Ventures.
Head of Innovation , SnackFutures
Brigette Wolf is the Head of Innovation for SnackFutures, Mondelez’s new innovation hub that will play a critical role in the company’s aggressive global growth agenda. In this role, Brigette is a key architect in the building of a multi-functional ecosystem consisting of internal experts around the world and cutting edge external partners to drive innovation in a new and different way. In the SnackFutures model of Invent, Reinvent and Venture, Brigette’s focus is driving the development of new brands and businesses in the Well Being and Premium Space. Brigette has been with Mondelez for 6 1/2 half years, and in that time served as the senior director of Global Platform Innovation for Gum, Candy and Biscuits as well the brand manager for Belvita. Brigette was with the company when it was Kraft Foods, and for 10 years under that umbrella served as the Global Innovation Manager for Oreo and also worked across several of the pizza and meal brands.
Managing Director and General Partner, CircleUp Growth Partners
Ben Lee is a Managing Director and General Partner of CircleUp Growth Partners, an early-stage consumer fund with a scalable, data-driven approach to investing in visionary entrepreneurs and products. Ben has spent the last 15 years working with early stage consumer brands, with experience as an investor and operator across a broad range of industries, from food and beverage to personal care, home goods, direct marketing, and e-commerce. He previously led CircleUp's investing marketplace, which connected high-growth consumer companies with accredited investors. Prior to CircleUp, Ben was an investor at JH Partners, a consumer-focused private equity firm. Ben currently serves on the boards of HUM Nutrition, 4505 Meats, and Liquid I.V. and led CGP's investments in Barnana, Fort Point Beer Company, and Cali'flour Foods. Ben received a BS in Physics from Stanford University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Managing Partner and Co Founder, RCV Partners
Andrew Reynolds is Co-Founder and Managing Partner RCV Frontline along with Jeff Grogg of JPG resources, LLC. RCV Frontline is an operationally focused venture fund investing in early stage food and beverage companies. In addition to RCV Frontline, Mr. Reynolds is the Co-founder and Managing Partner of Reynolds & Company Venture Partners (RCV partners). Mr. Reynolds founded RCV partners in 2010 because he saw the need and opportunity to provide capital and professional support to emerging consumer product and service companies. Mr. Reynolds views early stage emerging brands through a unique lens. Not only from an investing point of view but also from an operational perspective gained from his time as President of Icebox Water where he helped build every aspect of the business, from supply chain, operations, sales and finance.