Dec 7 - 8, 2015
Santa Monica, CA
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BevNET Live: Leadership and Growth Explored with Alan Murray, Kent Pilakowski

MurrayPilakowski_970BevNET is delighted to announce that two industry experts will be speaking at BevNET Live in Santa Monica next month to share important strategic ideas about the growth and structure of rising beverage companies.

Attendees will hear from Kent Pilakowski, the President and Founder of Ignite Sales Management and Consulting, to discuss “push points” in the growth of beverage companies and brands. Key to devising long-term sales growth and leadership strategies that can fit any company structure, push points create a series of decisions that place growth milestones within the structure of overall strategy and alignment.

Banking on a long career in category management and channel-specific retail execution, Pilakowski will not only cover sales and marketing partnership models but also the ways that brands with home-grown teams can reach their goals for growth. Pilakowski, who is an expert at developing top-down strategies that measure and extend the strengths of beverage brands, will discuss these push points in terms of talent management, funding, channel and route-to-market strategies and overall sales and marketing tactics for companies that are trying to grow their scale.

Additionally, Alan Murray, the CEO of GoodBelly, will be on hand to brief the audience on ways that the leaders of growing beverage companies can easily manage the flow of information between their boards, investors, employees and other stakeholders in their success.

For the leaders entrepreneurial brands that can sometimes face challenges in both growing and failing to grow, the loss of the board can mean the loss of the company, while the loss of employee confidence can signal the beginning of the end. In discussing communicating up — and down — company ranks, Murray, who has experience leading both manufacturing and supply companies and is a highly sought-after board member, will give the the audience the tools they need to keep stakeholders productively engaged in company growth.

BevNET Live in Santa Monica will take place on Dec. 7 and 8 at the Loews Beach Hotel. The event will also feature a one-day Beverage School for interested brands on Dec. 6.

BevNET Live events sell out. Register now.

About BevNET Live

BevNET Live Santa Monica will be held on Dec. 7 and 8 at the Loews Beach Hotel. It is a two-day conference for beverage entrepreneurs, suppliers, distributors, retailers and investors to gather, speak, exchange ideas through interactive panels and lectures, and enhance their sales, marketing, growth and product development strategies. Attendees can tap the expertise of investors and investment professionals who can help them realize growth capital or exit opportunities, explore and discuss strategies from business owners with inspiring success stories, and otherwise absorb case studies curated by, which has spent a decade dedicating itself to careful reporting on the fast-moving beverage industry. More than just a conference, BevNET LIVE includes networking options including the BevNET LIVE Expo, beverage breaks, cocktail receptions and, most of all, community.

About Alan Murray

NextFoods CEO Alan Murray has worked with the beverage industry for more than 20 years, having held various international marketing and general management roles within packaging giant Tetra Pak. As CEO in North America, he worked closely with many leading beverage brands and played a key role in bringing new packaging formats to the U.S. In 2010 he decided to step into the startup world by taking on the CEO role at NextFoods, makers of probiotic juice, GoodBelly. Murray was instrumental in licensing the brand’s patented probiotic technology from Sweden and participated in early activities such as brand creation and pitching to investors. Murray is also Vice Chairman of the publicly listed company SunOpta, a $1 billion global provider of natural and organic foods ingredients. His experience includes board work for private equity and venture backed companies in the packaging and food industries. He has worked closely with CEOs as coach and sounding board in companies ranging in size from pre-revenue all the way to $1 billion. He was the founder of the North American Carton Council, an industry body that serves to promote the recycling of cartons in the US. A graduate of the University of Cape Town, South Africa with a degree in Biochemistry and Applied Statistics, Murray participated in the Unilever Management Development Program and has attended various courses at the Business School IMD in Lausanne Switzerland. He is a Guest Speaker at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business and has taught case studies of his work at London’s Ashridge Business School.

About Kent Pilakowski

After 13 years with General Mills, Kent had covered all aspects of the CPG industry. Winning awards throughout his career, his experience spans from category management to channels strategy to trade optimization to customer management to retail execution and more. A “category captain” in the natural/organic space, his final role at General Mills was directing the sales operations, trade marketing, and category management for the Small Planet Foods organic division. In 2007, he created IGNITE to take advantage of what he saw as the most significant white space in the industry: strategic sales management. During his tenure with Small Plant Foods, he witnessed many brands who needed more than what was at that time offered in the food space for emerging brands. What was missing was a more holistic view of growth and the strategy that drives it – focused on sales, but including all aspects of brand and product development. IGNITE’s partnership model of shared goals amplifies the power of this broad strategic vision. Through IGNITE, Kent has developed a team and a structure that right sizes corporate process to small business. That same team also provides strategic leadership and management on the manufacturer side, in order to take full advantage of the ever-important broker, retailer, and distributor relationships.