Recap: Food and Beverage University Chicago 2015

We had our second Food and Beverage University event of the year in the amazing city of Chicago this past Thursday.  The industrial Moonlight Studio space was transformed into a chic and modern food and beverages classroom for nearly 100 entrepreneurs.  As we always do, both speakers and attending entrepreneurs had the chance to show their products at our sampling station, which featured innovative Chicago brands like Argo Tea, RxBar and Autumn Berry Inspired jams and fruit leathers, as well as the work of southerners like Dr. Pickle and Yaupon Asi Tea.

Round Table Talks with Trevor Nelson and Bruce Nieremberg

Round Table Talks with Trevor Nelson of Alliance Consumer Growth and Bruce Nierenberg of BIN Consulting Group


A unique development for this Chicago event was the incorporation of “Round Table Talks,” a new dedicated networking portion in which we set aside time for groups of entrepreneurs to speak with our presenters in a more intimate setting.  Also, FBU had its first-ever pitch panel, in which three local brands pitched to our panel of financial experts in a Shark Tank-esque setting, and we’re happy to report that according to feedback from our attendees, the session was both helpful and entertaining.

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Lou Thoumann of Yaupon Asi Tea in Front of Our Pitch Panel

Indeed, our pitch panel was a much awaited segment, strategically nestled in the time slot after lunch.  We knew for this event that we wanted to incorporate an element of entertainment that would teach entrepreneurs something they would need to eventually do, if they haven’t already.  The speakers’ presentations were raw and genuine.  For most of them, it was their first time presenting up on stage in front of a panel of financial experts, an experience which judge and panel expert Trevor Nelson, managing partner at Alliance Consumer Growth, lauded.

The three presenters included Dustin Kelly from Autumn Berry Inspired jams and fruit leathers , Carol Knowles of Wojo portable liquid supplements, and Lou Thoumann of Yaupon Asi Tea.

Bruce Nierenberg of BIN Consulting

Bruce Nierenberg of BIN Consulting Group

Speakers included experts like Bruce Nierenberg from BIN Consulting Group, who is longtime food and beverage broker and offered insider advice on how to bring your product to market; Andy Whitman from 2x Consumer Products Growth Partners, who talked about how to attract early-stage investors, and more importantly, the top 10 mistakes that will turn them away; and Mary Ellen Lynch, director of consumer insights and strategic partnerships at SPINS, who brought along category-specific data reports from SPINS for all our entrepreneurs.

So, there you have it!  Two down, two to go for FBU one-day seminars this year.  We’ve been extremely happy and proud of the feedback we’ve received so far for both of our events. If you want view our roundup video, click here.  To view the entire Chicago seminar, visit the BevNET FBU Chicago 2015 page (subscription required).

If you’re interested in attending one of our FBU events either in Boston on September 30, 2015 or LA  on November 5, 2015, check out the events page on FBU.  Early registration is currently open for both.


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