A Two-Day Virtual Event for the Food and Beverage Industry
On June 23 and 24, let’s take some time together to reset, taking a break from our widespread separation. Gathering within a unique virtual event environment, BevNET and NOSH’s Virtually Live welcome food and beverage professionals to an event filled with refreshing opportunities to interact, learn, and partner with colleagues who are both familiar and new. It’s time to connect and share knowledge, even from home.
Free Presentation: The Black Experience in the Food and Beverage Business
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Main Stage Speaker Lineup: Industry Leaders & Innovators
Chef & Owner, Crafted Hospitality; The Jersey Tomato Co. Ambassador; Food Activist,
Tom Colicchio is the chef and owner of Crafted Hospitality, which currently includes New York’s Craft, Riverpark and Temple Court; Los Angeles’ Craft Los Angeles; and Las Vegas’ Heritage Steak and Craftsteak. Born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Tom made his New York cooking debut at prominent New York restaurants including The Quilted Giraffe, Gotham Bar & Grill and Gramercy Tavern before opening Craft in 2001. Outside of his fine dining restaurants, Colicchio opened ‘wichcraft – a sandwich and salad fast casual concept rooted in the same food and hospitality philosophies as Craft – in New York City in 2003. In late 2018 Tom and his team opened Small Batch in Garden City, NY, a casual dining restaurant celebrating pride of place through commitments to local ingredients, purveyors and people. In an effort to broaden his long-standing activism around food issues, Tom served as an executive producer to the 2013 documentary “A Place at the Table” about the underlying causes of hunger in the United States. This eye-opening experience led Tom on a journey to Washington DC where he has been a mainstay in our nation’s capital in the years since. From holding members of Congress accountable on their voting records around food to working with former FLOTUS Michelle Obama on the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, Tom has established himself as the leading “Citizen Chef” advocating for a food system that values access, affordability and nutrition over corporate interests. Tom and his restaurants give back to the community through their impact partnership with FEAST and by serving on the boards of Children of Bellevue, City Harvest, and Wholesome Wave. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife Lori Silverbush and their three sons. When he’s not in the kitchen, Tom can be found tending to his garden on the North Fork of Long Island, enjoying a day of fishing or playing guitar.
CEO & Co-Founder, Hella Cocktail Co.
Jomaree Pinkard’s career journey has taken him from helping to develop and implement The Salvation Army's September 11 World Trade Center Recovery Program to consulting for the NFL. In 2012, he became the Co-Founder and CEO of a minority-led craft cocktail company, Hella Cocktail Co. In eight years, he and his partners have grown a hobby into a nationally distributed premium-quality food manufacturer producing a line of nonalcoholic cocktail mixers, bitters, and newest innovation Bitters & Sodas that make it easier and more accessible to craft delicious drinks at home or behind the bar. Jomaree is a graduate of the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce and also earned his MBA from The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.
As Co-Founder and CEO of Koia, Chris Hunter is currently focused on scaling the brand which has become the most productive protein beverage in retail. Launching in 2016, Koia’s initial product offering was a craveable, ready to drink, plant-based protein shake. Current offerings have extended into plant-based keto shakes and a line of planted-based elevated coffee. All products deliver on Koia’s mission to provide easy access to convenient, nutritious, and delicious plant-based nutrition. Hunter is a successful entrepreneur focused on creating, investing in, and scaling pioneering brands. He is the Co-Founder of iconic alcohol brands Four Loko and Not Your Father’s Root Beer. Furthermore, Hunter founded Perspective Projects, his private equity arm, in 2016 and Co-Founded Graze Provisions & Libations in 2018. Perspective Projects currently has investments in brands that are leading their space, including Vive Organics (functional shots), Beanfields (bean based chips), Factor (fully prepared healthy delivered meals), and Roar Organics (electrolyte infusioned drinks and powders). Graze Provisions & Libations is a locally driven food and beverage collective in the heart of Minneapolis’ North Loop. Hunter grew up in Northeast Ohio and graduated from Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration & Marketing. He currently lives in San Diego with his wife and three young sons, where he maintains an active lifestyle by practicing yoga, cycling, running and surfing.
Founder & CEO, Partake Foods
Denise Woodard is the Founder/CEO of Partake, a line of allergy-friendly snacks inspired by her daughter’s experience with food allergies. Since launching in July 2017, Partake’s first product - delicious, nutritious, allergy-friendly cookies - can be found in over 2,500 retailers including Target, Sprouts, and Whole Foods Market. The company has been featured by People, Black Enterprise and Entrepreneur and, in June 2019 closed a seed round of funding led by JAY-Z’s Marcy Venture Partners. Prior to launching Partake, Denise spent a decade in consumer packaged goods at various Fortune 100 companies. Most recently, she held the title of Director, National Sales in Coca-Cola’s Venturing & Emerging Brands division. Denise holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and an MBA from Arizona State University. She lives in Jersey City, NJ with her husband, Jeremy, and their 5 year old daughter, Vivienne.
President + Head of Strategy, Retail Voodoo
David Lemley, author of the new book, Beloved & Dominant Brands , has had a creative and strategic hand in shaping some of the world’s most iconic and fastest-growing brands including Essentia Water, Sahale Snacks, Yakima Chief Hops, Starbucks, REI, and Dry Soda. As the Founder and Chief Strategist of Seattle-based Retail Voodoo, David is on a mission to help better-for-you brands win customer’s hearts, minds, and souls. He partners with marketers, investors, and founder-owners to unlock the power of their brand’s promise to engage consumers, spark innovation, identify opportunity, and drive exponential growth.
Chief Innovation Officer, Vertosa
Austin in the Chief Innovation Officer at Vertosa. He leads all commercial activities, including sales, marketing, and new business development. Prior to joining Vertosa, Austin leveraged his bio-tech experience building the regulatory Hemp/CBD testing program for Eurofins Scientific - a world leader in food, environment, and product testing services – where he built and designed quality testing protocols for CVS and other retailers who carried Hemp/CBD products. For over 10 years, Austin has advised start-ups, built businesses, and launched hundreds of new products in finance, technology, and cannabis cpg industries. With an undergraduate degree from Columbia University in New York City, and a Masters of Science from the University of Bath in the United Kingdom--Austin is passionate about creating impact around the world through new business development, and designing products that consumers love.
CEO & Founder, Black Bamboo
Eric is the CEO and Founder of Black Bamboo, a growth agency that helps marketers, investors and entrepreneurs develop and activate their brands with a forward-looking view on the world. A specialist in brand and innovation strategy he has advised numerous brands from Fortune 500 (Pepsi, Mars, Unilever, Heineken, Smucker…) to PE-backed or independent brands (e.g. Bragg, VEGA, Spindrift, Health Warrior, Dang, Saffron Road to name a few). Eric often writes in marketing and business publications and has been guest lecturer at Columbia Business School and NYU.
Founder & CEO, Simple Mills
Katlin Smith is the Founder and CEO of Simple Mills, a Chicago-based company at the forefront of a clean food movement that is shaping the next generation of natural foods. Named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 Class of 2017, Smith launched Simple Mills in 2013 to provide a cleaner alternative to the natural baking mixes then on the market. Today, despite a crowded market space with long-established competitors, Simple Mills ranks as the #1 fastest-growing natural baking mix and cracker brand. Additionally, Simple Mills ranks as the #1 natural baking mix, the #1 natural cracker, and #2 natural cookie by dollar sales, according to SPINS syndicated data. Simple Mills products are currently distributed in more than 13,000 conventional and natural grocery stores including Whole Foods, Sprouts, Target, Kroger and Safeway as well as through Amazon and Thrive Market. All products are free of gluten, grain, dairy, soy, GMOs, excessive sugar, and artificial flavors and fillers, addressing consumer concerns about food sensitivities and the safety of the food supply chain. The current lineup includes baking mixes, frostings, almond flour crackers, sprouted seed crackers and ready to eat crunchy cookies. Smith is a former Deloitte Consulting management consultant, winner of the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business New Venture Challenge, and a columnist for Inc. magazine.
Kevin Rutherford is the President and CEO (Chief Eternal Optimist) of nuun and Company headquartered in Seattle, Washington. He joined nuun in December of 2013. In his first year Kevin led the company to 30 percent growth and record setting revenue celebrating the brands 10 th anniversary. That growth was accelerated in 2015 growing an additional 40 percent on another banner year. This was led by across the board category growth in sports specialty, grocery and the natural space including the brands entrance into every Whole Foods in the country. In 2016 Kevin led the overhaul of the entire nuun line to 100% plant-based ingredients also certified as vegan and gluten free. And, in April of 2017 the brand launched the first sports drink product that is both Non-GMO Project Verified and Informed-Choice Safe for Sport. The focus on product purity has ushered in continued financial success and in Kevin’s first three years the brand grew by over 150%. Rutherford brought an impressive 18-year CPG marketing background to nuun. Previously, Kevin was President and CEO of Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day (The Caldrea Company) where he successfully grew the business by over 85 percent and was awarded Target’s Vendor of the Year 2012. Prior to Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day, Rutherford was Director of Marketing for Kashi Co. (subsidiary of Kellogg, Co.) where he managed the Bear Naked brands, successfully innovating the product line from granola into energy bars, cereal, and cookies. Kevin also worked for Miller Brewing Company as senior brand manager on the Miller Genuine Draft (MGD) business. He was responsible for re-launching MGD Light into MGD 64, considered one of the most successful launches for conventional beers in the last 10 years. Prior to MGD, Rutherford was a Senior Brand Manager at S.C. Johnson, Inc. where he managed a $200 million home cleaning product business. Rutherford started his career as a grocery-merchandising manager at Loblaw Co. Inc., the largest grocery retailer in Canada. Rutherford is a values based, mission driven, hands on leader. He communicates the biggest accomplishment of his career as Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day being selected for the Outside “Best Places to Work “ in 2012. He is personally driven towards living a healthy, active lifestyle and being a steward for the environment and sustainable living.
Stew Leonard Jr.
President & CEO, Stew Leonard's
What should businesses be doing to support their black employees right now? All business leaders should take the time to have one on one conversations with their black employees. The conversation is the starting point. During these one-on-one conversations, it’s important to ask how they are feeling, what can you as a leader do to help, and what the organization can do to show support to the community. Many black employees might feel an overwhelming amount of emotional fatigue during this time. It’s important to be sensitive to this and give space where needed. Even if you don't know the right words to say, at least reach out. Even something as small as a heart emoji, just to show that you actually care, because the silence speaks louder. What’s your advice for a founder of color first starting out? Many people are not open to changing the way things have already been done. The best thing that has worked for me is to work very hard and stay true to your values. There will be people who will reject you, people naturally fear the unknown. But there will also be people who accept you and be more than willing to help you succeed because you are a genuine person. Try a common phrase, “Just do you.” Avoid getting caught up in the negativity of those who won’t or are not open to accepting you. If you stay true to your path, it’s inevitable that you will attract the right people to help you along your journey. What can businesses do more to hire black workers? It’s a really difficult subject. I've only had one other black person apply for a job and honestly they weren't the best fit for the position and we chose someone else. It wasn't because of race. It was just, at the end of the day, you have to choose the best person for the job but have not had a lot of people apply. Is there a way that the industry can seek out talent in underserved communities or at least have some type of internship program to help give opportunity to people of color? That's the way that we can combat that because I just don't see a lot of people applying and I'm guessing it's because you only know what you know. What should businesses be doing to support their black customers right now? Be sensitive to the matter, and show you care. Something that was really strong for me in the beginning: we were working with a social media agency and they would use all of their employees for the photo shoots and they had no black employees. So we would never get photos featuring black people or even people of color other than one Asian person every once in a while. I said it was ridiculous. We need to represent people of color through the photos. We need to represent all of our customers. This thing I like to say is black hands matter. Because, you know, we have to do food shots with hands. Representation matters. Do a better job. If someone or a brand messes up, what should they do? I’ve definitely seen this a lot this week. The best thing that I've seen is when people actually own up to their mistakes and they state their reasoning, both sides, and then get educated on what they did wrong and talk about it. I know people hate to admit fault, but that's the best way to do it is just own up to your shit. There's many different ways to support and not feel pressure to show up the way everybody else does. As long as everybody's contributing in some way, that should move everything forward. What about some industry-specific actions? How can the food and beverage industry better support black founders and black-owned businesses? Investors: Angel investors, VC and PE really need to step up and make an effort to seek out these founders. Having training courses or even a recruitment firm that helps to place minorities in the industry - it starts there because there are a lot of people like me personally. I know, because a lot of them reach out to me. They want to start food and beverage companies, but they just really don't know where to start, who to talk to, or anything. It's very intimidating. If we can ease that and open the doors, we're moving in the right direction. There has been some progress in supporting women's participation on board of directors. The same initiative should be taken for people of color. Investors can also pledge a certain amount of dollars per year to fund minority-owned businesses. I notice a large gap in awareness between both the investors and the founders. Many founders lack the resources to secure a meeting and many funds don't know exactly where to find these impactful, minority-owned businesses. Grocery Buyers: I'd suggest they make it a priority and policy to take meetings with brands and product companies that demonstrate diversity and maintain leadership or ownership with people of color. One company that does this well is Target TGT. Target values inclusivity in business and aims to expand opportunities for diverse suppliers. They also prioritize working with these suppliers to find innovative solutions that positively impact the communities they serve. Distributors: Distributors should identify these same brands, share the diversity of the brands that they carry, identity, and clearly communicate those brands to their channel partners.
Former Chairman and CEO, Nestlé Waters North America
Kim Jeffery is the retired Chairman and CEO of Nestlé Waters North America, the leading bottled water company in North America and the third largest non-alcoholic beverage company in America. Nestle Waters owns 7 of the top 10 bottled water brands as well as Perrier and San Pellegrino, and had sales of $4.7 billion and 8,000 employees at the time of his retirement in 2014. He has over 45 years of experience in all facets of the consumer products industry including sales, marketing, M&A, manufacturing, logistics, sustainability and finance. Additionally, he managed the journey from entrepreneurial startup to mature multibillion market leader by focusing on organizational development and utilizing a values based leadership model which created a high performance culture.
VP, Brand Marketing, good2grow
Edzra Gibson, vice president of brand marketing at the #1 kids’ beverage brand in the U.S., good2grow, brings 14 years of brand marketing and CPG experience to the company. Prior to joining the good2grow team as director of brand marketing in 2015, Edzra supported multiple brands at Fortune 500 companies Abbott Laboratories and Kraft Heinz. In his current role at good2grow, he leads the brand marketing team in identifying future consumer-based growth opportunities that deliver against brand and financial objectives – including portfolio development and consumer activation strategies for national scale and customer-specific shopper marketing initiatives.
Founder & CEO, Saffron Road
Mr. Durrani is the founder and CEO of Saffron Road Foods. According to IRI/SPINS Scantrak, Saffron Road is the fastest growing natural frozen entrée brand in USA and nationally ranked #2. Mr. Durrani is a serial food entrepreneur and venture capitalist for almost 30 years. Mr. Durrani founded Vermont Pure in 1991(sold to COTT beverages) and his venture firm Condor Ventures was a principal shareholder in Stonyfield Farms, Inc. , sold to Groupe Danone in 2001. He was also a principal of Delicious Brands, Inc., which he scaled, with the financial backing of Carl Icahn, to become the 5th largest cookie brand in the U.S. Saffron Road is sold nationally, in over 25,000 major US retail food stores, including Whole Foods Markets, Walmart, Costco, HEB, Target, Kroger, and all 14 banners of Albertsons/Safeway. Saffron Road is the leading world cuisines brand in the Natural/Organic sector, as well as being the #1 organic chickpea snacks brand. Whole Foods has noted Saffron Road as one of the most successful new brand launches in recent history, having made the Inc 500’s list of fastest growing co.’s for three years. Adnan has been recognized as one of the entrepreneurs who engineered “20 Ideas That Changed The Way The World Does Business”. The select list of these inductees include: Ben Cohen (Ben & Jerry’s), Gary Hirshberg (Stonyfield Farms), Muhammad Yunus (Nobel Peace Prize, Grameen Bank), and Steve Case (AOL). Mr. Durrani is the Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Columbia University’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and is also Co-Chair of Columbia’s SEAS Entrepreneurship Advisory Board. He was recognized by the Vatican and Ambassador to the Holy Sees for his “Interfaith In Business” model, where the Pope hosted him as a speaker at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Italy.
CEO, President, Founder, Rustic Crust / American Flatbread
As President/Founder of Rustic Crust, the company that produces Rustic Crust Shelf stable pizza crust and American Flatbread frozen pizzas, Brad continues his personal mission of offering healthier options to the over-processed foods crowding America’s supermarkets and expanding America’s waistlines. “We know people want to eat healthier, but they may not have the time. Eating healthy has to be simple, easy and convenient,” says Brad. “That’s why American Flatbread and Rustic Crust appeal to so many. I believe that your family, like mine, deserves more than the processed food mentality.”? With more than 28 years in the food industry, Brad’s experience includes food manufacturing, franchise development, sales/marketing, loss control and restaurant management. In 2014, Brad brought the company back from a devastating fire that caused a total loss for the business. The turnaround included building out two facilities in one year while maintaining YOY growth. When he’s not covered in flour, you’ll find Brad strolling through farmers’ markets, visiting local growers, and creating new recipes for both Rustic Crust and American Flatbread. Brad is passionate about sourcing local and organic ingredients and purposefully blending them in interesting ways to create new and exciting flavor profiles. Publication Appearances: Frozen Refrigerated Magazine (2007–2019) Business NH Magazine (2006–2018) USA Today (2014) Wall Street Journal (2014) Brad is remarried, has two children, recently out of college and employed!
Founder, TIG (The Intertwine Group)
Elliot Begoun a 30-year industry veteran, author, and the Founder of TIG, a 1:1 customized alternative accelerator focused on helping emerging natural product brands grow. TIG works with its entrepreneurs to build nimble, capitalefficient, resilient brands that become tardigrades not unicorns. Catch him at FoodBytes, the Hirshberg Entrepreneurship Institute, the Natural Products Business School, and find his articles in publications such as the Huffington Post, SmartBrief, and New Hope.
President Emeritus, Founder and former CEO, INFRA
Corinne has over 38 years’ experience in the natural products industry and is a leader in organizing and facilitating partnerships that successfully strengthen all stakeholders. She has the vision to see what is needed, the tenacity to fight for what is right when others doubt and the diplomatic and business skills to make it happen. After 15 years of profitable retail management she was the Executive Director of two regional co-op grocers’ associations. Simultaneously she founded the Midwest Purchasing Co-op. In 2004 all three merged into National Co+op Grocers, of which Corinne was the founding President. She has spent her recent 15 years as the founder and former President/CEO of INFRA (Independent Natural Food Retailers Cooperative). According to NFM “She built community and collaboration among retailers that makes the whole industry stronger” Corinne has served on numerus Boards, including MSI, (Mutual Service Insurance), NCDF as Chair for 10 years (now Shared Capital) and Chair of the Non-GMO Project for the past 10 years. Currently she is serving on the Climate Collaborate board, is a member of J.E.D.I. leadership initiative and is providing guidance to INFRA as its President Emeritus.
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