BevNET Live Winter 2018 kicked off with a glimpse at the next generation of innovative beverages, as 12 emerging entrepreneurs took the main stage to pitch their products during the semi-final round of the sixteenth edition of the conference’s pitch competition, the New Beverage Showdown.
After the first round, six companies were selected to advance to the finals: Riff Cold Brewed Coffee; sparkling cold pressed juice Hubble; non-alcoholic hop-infused tea HopTea; cannabidiol (CBD)-based beverage Joybird Wellness; Mother Matcha, a line of matcha lattes; and Zest Tea, a high caffeine energy tea. Those brands will face off and compete for a grand prize awareness package valued at $10,000.
The field of participants reflected a wide spectrum of beverage types. Along with new takes on familiar categories like cold brew coffee and tea, some competitors shared hybrid beverages that linked two distinct drink types, such as cold pressed juice and sparkling water, or products seeking to create entirely new segments of the market, like sesame-based milks and aronia berry juice. In addition to the aforementioned brands, candidates in New Beverage Showdown 16 included Eslena, Hope & Sesame, Kids Luv, Truronia, Joe FroYo and Split Decision.
Contestants only had two minutes to deliver pitches on stage, and all 12 brands sought to highlight their concepts and execution strategies to a panel of judges that included BevNET chief marketing officer Mike Schneider; Kelly Criswell, chief creative officer at The GRO Agency; Pat Bolden, president and co-founder of L.A. Libations; and Matt Hughes, VP of emerging brands incubation for The Coca-Cola Company’s Venturing and Emerging Brands (VEB) unit.
Judges considered factors such as taste, branding, packaging, scalability, and company structure in evaluating the participating brands. While the individual companies were clearly differentiated, the entrepreneurs positioned their brands around common themes like health and wellness, lower sugar, functional benefits and sustainability.
How these brands communicated their offerings on the package itself was of particular interest for the judges. The challenge of quickly capturing the unique ingredients or functional benefits was also noted, as judges gave advice on where cuts or additions to descriptive romance copy could be made.
The New Beverage Showdown 16 champion will be announced tomorrow at the conclusion of day two of BevNET Live Winter 2018. The winning company will join an esteemed group of past New Beverage Showdown champions, including Tio Gazpacho, RISE Brewing Co., Health-Ade, MALK, and Simply Soupreme, among others.
Catch the final round of pitches on BevNET.com. Three of the finalists will deliver their pitches at 2:00 p.m. EST/11:00 a.m. PST. A second round of pitches will begin at 4:30 p.m. EST/1:30 p.m. PST, and the winner will be announced at 5:55 p.m. EST/2:55 p.m. PST