In what has become one of the most compelling parts of BevNET Live, the New Beverage Showdown once again rocked the conference, dazzling attendees with a range of innovative and on-trend products, and offering some truly pulsating drama to end the show. The third installment of beverage brand competition, ultimately won by Grady’s Cold Brew, gave companies the opportunity to showcase their brands and business plans in front of a judging panel of four beverage industry veterans and CPG experts, as well as an audience of 500 entrepreneurs, retailers, distributors, and manufacturers.
This edition of the New Beverage Showdown – developed in partnership with Coca-Cola’s Venturing and Emerging Brands (VEB) Unit – featured a significant twist, with four of the six companies chosen in advance of BevNET Live, and the other two selected during a Wild Card round held a day before the finals of the competition. The Wild Card round featured 12 companies, each given three minutes to present their products to a panel of judges. The two winners were chosen via a live audience text and e-mail voting process that garnered over 4,000 responses.
While over 70 companies applied to take part in New Beverage Showdown 3, the six finalists represented a diverse range of on-trend beverage categories including Chia\Vie, an all-natural, ground chia seed and fruit smoothie; Novo, a low-calorie, low sugar organic hydration beverage; Grady’s Cold Brew, a New Orleans–style iced coffee concentrate; and Last Call, a hangover prevention drink. The two winners of the Wild Card round were Frava, a naturally caffeinated juice drink, and Black Bear Energy, an energy drink produced with a blend of B12 vitamins and no added caffeine.
Judging the competition were Seth Goldman, the co-founder and “TeaEO” of Honest Tea; Paula Grant, founding partner of Flood Creative, Mathis Martines, Grocery Marketing Coordinator at The Fresh Market, and Bridget McCarthy, Vice President, Category Commercialization at Coca-Cola Refreshments.
After two days of enthusiastic and often lively presentations, the judges declared Grady’s Cold Brew to be the winner of the New Beverage Showdown. Grady Laird and Dave Sands, the co-founders of the company, received $10,000 in cash and prizes, and in a brief victory speech the pair declared that the money would be used to purchase a forklift – certainly not the sexiest way to spend their winnings, but a clear indication that the hard work that got them the win would continue into the days ahead.