As an entrepreneurial “greenhorn” to the Natural Product’s Expo West scene, I thought it would be economical to scout the competition before investing in a sexy DrinkTru booth for our own functional shot line.
Keeping in mind that almost ANY "How to's" in one area of business can convert to something applicable to another space. I decided to keep my eyes peeled here at this Expo.
A Great Opportunity to Take a Look at My Company From a Different Angle
In doing so, I had 72 hours to look at the food and beverage landscape from a different lens and meet some of the most inspiring players in the business. As I am biased towards the young guns battling behemoths in the industry, I focused my attention on the small game changers among the 3,300 companies in attendance who are aiming to disrupt big food.
From all walks of life around the country, these entrepreneurs are poised to take the industry by storm.
Below is my list of the Top 10 Emerging Brands changing the game in Food and Beverage:
Question: How would you market each of these companies?
Founder(s): Krik Angacian & Ryan Wiltse
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Category: Protein Chips & Popcorn
Past Life: Investment Banker, Rabobank
College: Boston College
My Favorite: Sweet Cinnamon Popcorn
Expo West Highlights: Launched First Ever Protein Popcorn that is out of this world good.
Where to Buy: GNC, Vitamins Shoppe
Get It Now: https://amzn.to/2GnRDs9
#2 Drink Simple
Founder(s): Kate Weiler & Jeff Rose
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Category: Hydration Beverage
Past Life: Sports Nutritionist
College: Colby College, Northeastern MS
My Favorite: Maple Water
Expo West Highlights: Rebranded to Drink Simple for added versatility to launch new SKUs.
Where to Buy: CVS, Wegmans etc.
Get It Now: https://amzn.to/2GlFU19
#3 Siren Snacks
Founder(s): Elizabeth Giannuzzi & Abby Giannuzzi
Location: San Francisco, California
Category: Protein Bites
Past Life: Investment Banker, Goldman Sachs
College: Brown University, Stanford MBA
My Favorite: Dark Chocolate Brownie, Lemon Poppyseed
Expo West Highlights: These delicious bites are changing the way we snack on protein.
Where to Buy: Canyon Market
Get It Now: https://www.sirensnacks.com/
Founder(s): Dan Aziz
Location: Providence, Rhode Island
Category: Prenatal Vitamins
Past Life: College Student
College: Brown University
My Favorite: No Comment
Expo West Highlights: Released their next generation Apple-like minimalist packaging.
Where to Buy: Target, CVS
Get It Now: https://amzn.to/2GEcvyv
#5 Sound Sparkling Tea
Founder(s): Tommy Kelly & Salim Najjar
Location: New York, New York
Category: Ready-To-Drink Tea
Past Life: Engineer
College: Loyola College in Maryland
My Favorite: Sparkling Rose Tea
Expo West Highlights: Unveiled their super clean RTD can prototypes for future production runs.
Where to Buy: Whole Foods, Fairway
Get It Now: https://amzn.to/2pR5zoi
#6 Three Trees
Founder(s): Jenny Eu
Location: San Francisco, California
Category: Almond Milk, Cold Brew Coffee
Past Life: Category Manager, Ebay
College: Stanford University, Stanford MBA
My Favorite: Vanilla Almond Milk
Expo West Highlights: Their booth design was one of the best with an even better product.
Where to Buy: Whole Foods, Gelsons Market etc.
Get It Now: http://threetrees.com/
#7 Alpen Dough
Founder(s): Sarah Spence
Location: Durango, Colorado
Category: Cookie Dough
College: Western State Colorado University
My Favorites: Snickerdoodle
Expo West Highlights: These gluten-free cookies are ridiculously delicious and super addictive.
Where to Buy: Natural Grocers
Get It Now: http://alpendough.com/
#8 Zest Tea
Founder(s): James Fayal & Rickey Ishida
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Category: Tea Bags & Ready-To-Drink Tea
Past Life: Founder, LauncHive
College: University of Maryland College Park
My Favorites: Mojito Green Tea
Expo West Highlights: Launched their first RTD with three really unique flavors and designs.
Where to Buy: Whole Foods, Harris Teeter
Get It Now: https://amzn.to/2GmiXXE
#9 Three Jerks Jerky
Founder(s): Jordan Barrocas & Daniel Fogelso
Location: Venice, California
Category: Beef Jerky
Past Life: Vice President, In California Inc.
College: Emory College, University of Miami MBA
My Favorites: Memphis BBQ Spicy and Savory
Expo West Highlights: A Shark Tank standout, their filet mignon cut is the Capital Grille of jerky.
Where to Buy: Mollie Stones, Alfred Coffee
Get It Now: https://amzn.to/2pRnYBn
#10 Creation Nation
Founder(s): Karen Nation
Location: Calabasas, California
Category: Protein Bar and Energy Bite Mixes
Past Life: Realtor (still active)
College: UC Irvine
My Favorites: Cocoa For Coconuts Energy Bite Mix
Expo West Highlights: These delicious and original protein mixes are a must for any kitchen.
Where to Buy: Whole Foods coming soon
Get It Now: https://amzn.to/2Grm7t2
Honorable Mention: Wildway
Founder(s): Kelli Koehler & Kyle Koehler
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Category: Granola, Smoothie, Hot Cereal
Past Life: Social Media Strategist,
College: Texas A&M University
My Favorites: Grain Free Cinnamon Roll Hot Cereal
Expo West Highlights: Their instant hot cereals are the best tasting in the game hands down.
Where to Buy: Whole Foods, Wegmans
Get It Now: https://amzn.to/2IdZ9q8
International Stand Out: Beyond
Founder(s): Russell Lipton
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Category: Watermelon Water, Coconut Water
My Favorites: Beyond Melon
Expo West Highlights: With a USA expansion, Beyond Melon is sure to catch the attention of many.
Where to Buy: National distribution in Australia
Get It Now: https://beyondmelon.com/
Hopefully, you will be able to get some ideas for building your own startup -- in whatever space happens to be in your entrepreneurial heart. These are a few ideas in the food and beverage industry. But take a quick look where each of these companies were in their "past lives." It's inspiring!