BOULDER, Colo. — IZZE Beverage Company has announced that SoBe founder and former CEO John Bello joined the company’s board of directors. Bello is also a partner with Sherbrooke Capital, the venture capital group that led the $6.35 million equity-financing round for IZZE this past January.
“I am excited to be on board with IZZE, and the timing couldn’t be better,” said Bello. “This brand has it all — taste, positioning, and a special cache will enable it to rise above the competitive clutter. IZZE has the potential to add a new dimension to the new age category that we haven’t seen since Snapple, Arizona and SoBe. IZZE is exciting, new and different and presents a healthy alternative to carbonated soft drinks.”
IZZE co-founder and CEO Todd Woloson is very enthusiastic about the addition of Bello. “I am thrilled to have the additional expertise on our board,” said Woloson. “What John Bello brings to the table is invaluable. His proven success with SoBe, along with his knowledge, insights, and passion for the beverage business and his broad industry contacts will help us drive and accelerate current growth. With John’s guidance, we will extend IZZE’s leadership position within the sparkling juice market, and help IZZE establish a new category of ‘healthy sodas.'”
Currently, Bello is CEO of Firefighter Brands, a business he founded in 2003 in which a substantial share of profits go to firefighter-related causes through the company’s Firefighter Brand Foundation. He is also chairman of The Original SoupMan, a line of super premium soups based on the recipes of the New York soup maker that inspired the famous Seinfeld “No Soup for You” episode.
In 2001, Ernst and Young named Bello national Entrepreneur of the Year in the consumer products category for his work with SoBe. Prior to founding SoBe, Bello spent 14 years at National Football League Properties, the marketing arm of the NFL, where as president he is credited for building NFL Properties into a sports marketing leader and creating the model by which every major sports league now operates. Before the NFL, Bello worked for Pepsi-Cola in marketing and strategic planning capacities and at General Foods where he held product management roles on the Sanka and Maxwell House Brands.
Bello joins current IZZE board members Sherbrooke Capital managing general partner John Giannuzzi, Tango partner Jerome Contro, and S.M. “Hass” Hassan, co-founder of Alfalfa’s Market (now part of Wild Oats Markets, Inc.) and London-based Fresh & Wild (now part of Whole Foods Markets, Inc.). Hassan also sits on the Whole Foods Market board of directors.