Pitch Slam Volume 4: Your Brand Center Stage
Winter 2017 Competition
Past Pitch Slam Judges
Founding Partner, VMG Partners
Director, Retail Brand Partnerships, Starbucks
Deb joined Starbucks 5 years ago, and for the past year has led the Retail Brand Partnerships team. She and her team run the snack category across North America and have the enviable task of finding new food brands for Starbucks stores that customers can feel good about—ones made with simple, pure ingredients and crafted with love and care. Prior to working with food entrepreneurs to build a snack business for Starbucks stores, Deb spent 12 years in traditional consumer packaged goods. At Starbucks she created the shopper marketing and shopper insights function from the ground up, and managed various coffee brands for the FDMC channel including Starbucks packaged coffee, Seattle’s Best, and VIA Instant coffee. At Kimberly-Clark she worked in various brand management and innovation roles. There she managed the creation of multi-brand marketing programs and the brand and shopper marketing efforts for the U by Kotex® launch, which won numerous awards including an IRI product Pacesetter, a Silver Effie for Shopper Marketing, and a Gold Hub Prize. Prior to Kimberly-Clark, Deb worked as a consultant with several leading retailers for Kurt Salmon. Deb has an undergraduate degree from Texas A&M and an MBA from Goizueta Business School at Emory University.
Founder/Co-CEO, Halen Brands
Jason Cohen, Founder/Co-CEO, co-founded Mamma Says, Inc. in 1999, a food manufacturing company that produced biscotti. He grew the business from concept to gaining distribution at retail giants such as Costco, BJ’s and Trader Joe’s. In a few years, the company was able to establish a national brand where sales volume doubled year-over- year. In 2005, the business was sold to NONNIS Inc., a portfolio brand of Windpoint Partners for 4x revenue. In 2005, Jason co-founded World Gourmet Marketing, creating better-for- you snacks under the flagship brand Sensible Portions, which included all-natural, low-calorie snacks such as Veggie Straws, Pita Bites and Multi Grain Crisps. Again, his strategic plan was to sell into large format retailers such as Costco first. He then moved on to vendors such as BJ’s, Wal-Mart, Sam’s, ShopRite, Safeway, SuperValu, etc. Under his management, the company achieved double-digit growth and became one of the fastest rising snack food industry purveyors. The company went from $4MM in sales in 2005 to just under $100MM in 2009. In 2010, World Gourmet (and the Sensible Portions brand) sold for $110MM to The Hain Celestial Group, one of the leading providers of organic and natural foods. While at Hain Celestial, Jason served as President of Club and Snack Division, and was responsible for executing the sales strategy for brands such as Terra, Garden of Eatin’ and Sensible Portions. In 2011, Jason founded Rickland Orchards, the first shelf stable Greek yogurt brand. In October 2013, after sales soared to $50 million in just 18 months, the company was sold for $57.5 million to B&G Foods, a public company. In 2013, Jason partnered with the founders of SkinnyPop. SkinnyPop successfully went public in 2015 for 1.4 billion in shareholder value. In 2014, Jason received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the Excellence in Emerging category in the New Jersey region. In January 2015, Jason co-founded Halen Brands, Inc., which quickly funded Chef’s Cut Real Jerky in March 2015. Halen Brands then purchased Rex’s Outrageous Road Crew Crunch in September 2015 and most recently partnered with Core Hydration in June 2016. Jason has also invested, raised capital, and previously or currently holds Board Member positions for various companies, mostly in the consumer products space including : Dippin’ Chips and Mrs. Thinster’s, Voli Vodka, Pearl Media, and two apparel companies - Trukfit and Asphalt Yacht Club.
Founder, Revelry Brands & Bear Naked
Brendan Synnott is the Founder of Revelry Brands and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of PACT | ORGANIC, makers of super soft organic cotton apparel. Synnott is leading his team to change the apparel industry for good. Synnott has built multiple lifestyle brands from scratch. His work has produced a unique signature across product categories that align with the millennial generation’s evolved relationship with consumption. In 2002, at the age of 23, Synnott co-founded the healthy snack company, Bear Naked that was later acquired by Kellogg. In 2009, he founded Revelry Brands as a vehicle to provide strategy, people and capital to new ventures including co-founding EVOL Foods. Currently, Revelry holdings include the pet care brand I and Love and You, candy brand Little Secrets as well as apparel brand PACT | ORGANIC. With a degree in economics from Vanderbilt University, Synnott has levied his strengths to not only follow his passions, but tap into his competitive and energetic nature, which has included a role with the talent department at Saturday Night Live and a stint as a cast member on CBS’s Survivor.
COO & Co-Founder, Foodstirs
Greg has created and grown some of the world's largest and most successful brands during his 20- year career - launching 1,500+ items across 17 food and beverage categories into 12 countries - focusing primarily on the “green space.” A seasoned veteran with deep knowledge of the natural & organic products industry, Fleishman plays an integral role as COO and co-founder of Foodstirs Modern Baking where he oversees corporate strategy, sales, marketing and operations. Prior to joining Foodstirs, Fleishman co-founded Modern Alkeme Japanese Supertonics along with Real Housewife of NYC, Jules Wainstein and industry leader Larry Praeger. He currently serves as Co-founder of Purely Righteous Brands (PRB), a boutique advisory firm dedicated to fostering the growth of green space companies some of whom include Bonafide Provisions, Once Upon a Farm, Hail Merry, REBBL, Chameleon Cold-Brew, and GT’s Kombucha. Under PRB, Fleishman has served as chief marketing & strategy officer for Suja, the #1 cold-pressured fresh juice brand in the US where he led business strategy, marketing, innovation, and retail customer development. Prior to that, he served as chief marketing officer at Sambazon, the maker of fresh amazon superfood-based beverages. As CMO, Fleishman led marketing, strategy, innovation and business development for Coca-Cola's FUZE & Energy portfolio. He also worked for more than 14 years as an executive marketer at Kashi/Bear Naked and Kelloggs. In 2016, Fleishman was named to Forbes List of Top Consumer Catalysts. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Demeter Biodynamic, Nuun, Modern Alkeme, 4 th & Heart, and Foodstirs.
Chief Executive Officer, Twin Cities Co-op Partners
Josh Resnik has spent two decades in the food industry, and the last five years as CEO of Twin Cities Co-op Partners (TCCP) – one of the leading food co-ops in the country. In his role at TCCP, Josh oversees four natural/organic food businesses based in Minneapolis – two grocery stores (Wedge and Linden Hills Co-ops), a food distributor that serves a seven-state area (Co-op Partners Warehouse), and a food production business that sells prepared foods wholesale, as a Caterer, and at the Wedge Table – a mini market and café. In his role, Josh works closely with many up and coming local vendors in helping them prepare for retail, grow their in-store presence, and start up with a distributor. TCCP’s mission is “Build community by developing a strong local food system.” Outside of work, Josh serves as a judge in the Food and Agriculture Division for Minnesota Cup – the largest statewide startup competition in the US. He also is on the board of Mill City Farmers Market, and was previously a board member of Midtown Global Market and Twin Cities Taste of the Nation. Prior to running TCCP and the Wedge, Josh was CEO of Wild Idea Buffalo, a grassfed meat company based in Rapid City City, South Dakota Also, he spent 13 years in marketing and general management at General Mills – working on American icon brands like Cheerios, Yoplait, and Betty Crocker. There, he helped lead two $50+ million startups of new products at General Mills. Josh is also a passionate foodie, who loves exploring new cities and finding the best BBQ, tacos, or hole-in- the-wall markets.
Brand Manager, Food Marketing, ADM
Founder & Managing Partner, Boulder Food Group
Founder and Managing Partner of Boulder Food Group, Tom previously co-founded EVOL Foods and was the COO of Bear Naked Granola. Under Tom’s management, both businesses were successfully sold to public companies. In addition to his role at BFG, Tom proudly serves on the board of directors of three non-profit organizations including Chef Ann Foundation, Just Label It and Growe Foundation. Chef Ann Foundation and Just Label It are focused at the national level on critical food related issues. The Growe Foundation works with Boulder Valley elementary schools to provide learning opportunities in school gardens. Tom is also the co-founder of the 929 Non-Profit Summer Series which takes place in Boulder, CO each summer. The event series benefits at least five non-profits each year and raises funds on their behalf. Tom was born and raised in Santa Fe, NM. He attended Santa Fe Preparatory School and then Vanderbilt University where he graduated Magna Cum Laude with honors and dual degrees in Economics and Spanish. Tom lives in Boulder, CO with his wife and family.
Past Pitch Slam Presentations
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Want more information? Ready to apply? A member of the Project NOSH team will respond promptly with the requested information and/or access to the Pitch Slam 4 application. The deadline to apply is Friday, May 11, 2018.