Office Hours: Corporate VC During Covid-19 with General Mills, Pepsi, Distill Ventures

The state of strategic venture units during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic will be explored during Office Hours on Tuesday, Aug. 11 at 3 p.m. ET when our guests will be the John Haugen, Heidi Dillon Otto, and Daniel Grubbs, the leaders, respectively, of 301 INC (General Mills), Distill Ventures North America and PepsiCo Ventures Group.

The three executives will share insights and lessons drawn from the experience of their portfolio brands during the pandemic, both with regard to those companies’ challenges and the ways they have operated to overcome them. They will also discuss their views on entrepreneurial brands’ best practices when it comes to overcoming surprise roadblocks and the kinds of strengths and weaknesses developing companies have shown in recent months.

Haugen, Otto, and Grubbs will also discuss the current outlook and past record for corporate accelerators and VCs, giving viewers a snapshot of the kinds of relationships that they can expect with regard to these much-discussed strategic partnerships.

Participate in the livestream! Office Hours viewers are encouraged to submit questions before and during the show, and will be invited to join the discussion live. It’s an unprecedented chance to get insights and guidance from experienced executives with regard to business challenges facing food and beverage businesses.

Daniel leads the PepsiCo Ventures Group with the aim of identifying, securing, and nurturing PepsiCo’s partnerships with emerging Food & Beverage companies. The Ventures Group mission is to champion the founders vision while also supporting PepsiCo’s transformation and long term market position. Previously, Daniel helped lead PepsiCo’s Premium Beverage/Emerging Brands division, encompassing Naked Juice, IZZE, O.N.E. Coconut Water, and KeVita. During his tenure Naked Juice became a $1B retail business for PepsiCo, while KeVita was successfully integrated into the PepsiCo family after a period of investment. Before PepsiCo, Daniel held a number of key roles with IRI, including co-leading the Strategy Growth Consulting practice with a focus on Corporate Portfolio Strategy and M&A Due Diligence. Daniel holds an M.B.A. from the University of Southern California.

As Managing Director of North America, Heidi Dillon Otto brings more than 20 years of expertise in the natural and organic beverage and food categories to Distill Ventures’ growing presence in the U.S. market, overseeing the direction and operation of its team of highly specialized drinks executives. Since joining in 2018 as Portfolio Director, Heidi has spearheaded North American portfolio brand marketing and consumer strategy and led the U.S. Non-Alcoholic drinks acceleration portfolio and program. She plays a lead role in category development initiatives, and provides crucial digital and e-commerce support across the full portfolio of Distill Ventures brands. Heidi also serves as a key advisor and mentor to entrepreneurs within the portfolio across multiple spirits categories, from white spirits to whiskeys.

John Haugen has driven innovation and growth during his 30-year tenure at General Mills. He currently leads 301 INC, a new business development and venturing unit he founded within the company. In this role, he has led strategic investments in Beyond Meat, Rhythm Superfoods, Tio Gazpacho, Good Culture Cottage Cheese, Kite Hill, Farmhouse Culture, Purely Elizabeth, Urban Remedy, GoodBelly Good Catch and Pet Plate. He was also instrumental in the 2016 GMI acquisition of EPIC Provisions. In 2016, Haugen was named to Forbes Magazine’s Consumer Catalyst Awards: The Consumer Industries’ Top Dealmakers and Influencers list and also Crain’s 100: 100 Innovators, Disruptors and Change-Makers in Business.

Office Hours is an exclusive show for subscribers of BevNET and NOSH. Subscribe today and tune in every Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET to hear from industry experts and get your questions answered.

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About Office Hours

Office Hours brings industry thought leaders in Food and Beverage into conversation with the community to offer advice, answers, and discussion that can help brands and their associates overcome the challenges of both the present days and those to come.

About BevNET is the leading media property dedicated to the non-alcoholic beverage industry. Founded in 1996, BevNET provides comprehensive, cross-channel, up-to-the-minute information about the beverage industry and reviews of non-alcoholic beverages. BevNET attracts brands, suppliers, ingredients providers, service providers retailers, distributors.

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NOSH is the leading source for informed, comprehensive coverage and context for the growing community of businesses with Natural, Organic, Sustainable, and Healthy packaged food. As the food-focused extension of, NOSH offers products in a variety of media that reaches engaged brands, retailers, investors, distributors, suppliers, and service providers.