Sept 11, 2014
Los Angeles, CA
Launch Your Food or Beverage Company the Right Way
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Speaking At FBU LA: Califia CEO, Fresh & Easy Buyer, Investors

Greg Steltenpohl, Califia Farms

Greg Steltenpohl, Califia Farms

From legendary – and still successful – entrepreneurs, to key retail accounts, to a raft of professionals focusing on early formulation and positioning advice, the new group of speakers unveiled as part of BevNET’s Food and Beverage University (FBU) in Los Angeles on Sept. 11 will offer unrivaled assistance for attendees.

The event will take place at the Skirball Cultural Center at 2701 North Sepulveda Boulevard, Los Angeles.

Joining already announced speakers will be food and beverage visionary Greg Steltenpohl, the founder of brands like Odwalla and Califia Farms, which is currently one of the fastest-growing companies in the country.

Steltenpohl, like many of the speakers added today, has a deep set of skills and experiences that are vital to entrepreneurs, including thoughts on alternatives to the current fund-raising norms as well as ways that innovative brands can develop devoted audiences.

Additionally, entrepreneurs will get a chance to hear about the best way to access and grow within key supermarket accounts when Joe Ragusa, a senior category manager of grocery at Fresh and Easy, speaks to the group. Ragusa has more than 20 years of experience in purchasing for two successful global retailers, including 17 years with Costco Wholesale and 7 years with Fresh and Easy.

Debbie Wildrick, MetaBrand

Debbie Wildrick, MetaBrand

Bolstering the discussion of retailing and distribution will be Debbie Wildrick, the Chief Advisory Officer of MetaBrand, LLC. Wildrick, who has run entrepreneurial beverage companies and currently is the key advisor to food and snack companies working with MetaBrand and has worked for 7-Eleven as the Senior Director for Vault and Proprietary Beverages and as Director for Snacks and Grocery.

Also joining the event to speak on investment and board formation will be Brad Barnhorn, a board member and advisor to multiple food and beverage companies, including Krave Jerky, Kevita, Rhythm Superfoods and Health Warrior. Barnhorn, who as an entrepreneur started and sold Fantasia Juice Company, is an advisor to investment bank Silverwood Partners as well as several independent private equity and venture capital funds.

Brad Barnhorn, Barnhorn Growth Advisors

Brad Barnhorn, Barnhorn Growth Advisors

He recently became the head of  a $3 million early-stage investment fund that will be composed of capital raised from investors on the CircleUp crowdfunding platform to in turn invest into companies raising capital on CircleUp.

Additionally, Food and Beverage University will benefit from the presence of Lyric Group founder Rob Leichman, a band management and business development expert for emerging food brands. Leichman will speak to the key challenges facing entrepreneurs who are trying to move a product from their kitchen into a commercialized format, including finding co-packers, working with commercial kitchens, and other key product development challenges. With the Lyric Group, Leichman, a veteran of companies like Ciao Bella Gelato, where he was VP of Sales & Marketing, works with emerging national brands across multiple categories and channels.

Alongside panelists and speaker presentations, FBU will also feature several networking opportunities for attendees to meet with speakers, BevNET’s own experts, and the system of retailers, distributors, investors and suppliers that form the primary contacts of the food and beverage entrepreneur.

Early registration for the event is now open.


Discounts are available for active subscribers. To learn more about this opportunity, please contact Jon Landis at (617) 231-8834 or

Sponsorship opportunities are still open for FBU Los Angeles 2014. Interested parties should contact John McKenna at (617) 231-8825 or

About BevNET Food and Beverage University (FBU)

FBU is an expansion of the educational platform that BevNET first formed via Beverage School, a business development series that it has run for the benefit of new beverage entrepreneurs and their employees since 2009. BevNET’s track record in providing relevant business development content is evident through its video subscription service at Food & Beverage University (, a collection of focused interviews with CPG experts that offer insight into all levels of strategy for food and beverage product entrepreneurs.