The presentations for Day One of BevNET Live Summer 2018 may have begun at 10 a.m., but the real action kicked off two hours earlier with the semifinal round of the fifteenth edition of the conference’s pitch competition, the New Beverage Showdown.
Out of a field of 12 contestants, six brands — NITRO Beverage Co, Simply Soupreme, Sip City, Cusa Tea, Drink Peloton and Element Shrub — advanced to tomorrow’s final round, moving one step closer to winning the grand prize: $5,000 in cash and an advertising package valued at over $5,000.
The participants reflected a broad range of products, from upcycled coffee waste beverages to bold drinkable soups. Along with the aforementioned brands, the group included Bevea, Waku Inc., Bold Brew Coffee, Origin Almond, Liquid Death, and Poppilu.
Each brand gave a two minute pitch — covering topics from taste to bottle design to retail strategy — to a panel of judges comprised of BevNET CMO Mike Schneider, BIGR Managing Partner Carole Buyers, Big Geyser COO Jerry Reda, and VP of Incubation Matt Hughes, VP of Incubation VEB.
“I appreciated the passion of each of the founders and I thought they did a great job bringing that to the stage,” Schneider said. “This was one of the most competitive New Beverage Showdowns that we have had to date and I’m excited about the possibility of each of the contestants.”
Many of the presentations focused on functionality, highlighting low sugar content and digestion-boosting ingredients like apple cider vinegar and whole fruits and vegetables. Sourcing methods and sustainability were also key to many of the companies’ brand stories.
The panel of judges were interested in how products labels communicated their unique qualities and brand stories to consumers. They also praised competitors for their passion on stage, and urged them to capture that excitement in their designs, marketing and pitches to retailers.
“I think if they [a brand] can bring the passion through in messaging and the label, it will pay off with the product,” Reda said. “You need passion. Sometimes people forget brands are built one bottle at a time, pedaling up a down the street.”
According to the judges, the eventual finalists stood apart from the rest thanks to strong branding, the ability to platform and overall great taste.
Of the six brands moving on to the final round of New Beverage Showdown 15, only one will claim the grand prize. Thursday’s champion will join a select group of past winners such as Bear Squeeze, Rise Coffee Company, Health-Ade, MALK, and Tio Gazpacho.
You can catch all the action streaming live on BevNET.com with the first round beginning at 10:40 p.m. EST. The second round of the finals begins at 1:30 p.m. EST.
Stay tuned to BevNET.com for more coverage from BevNET Live Summer 2018.