Investing at the Intersection Of Agriculture & CPG
At NOSH Live Winter 2019, Tyler Mayoras, co-manager of the Food & Agribusiness Fund at Advantage Capital Partners, discussed investing at the intersection of CPG and agriculture. Though Mayoras’ fund focuses on brands in rural areas, he offers insight into sustainability, clean labels and successful brand traits. Mayoras said it’s essential for brands to have strong management and to be willing to make changes when things aren’t working.
“Every brand has pivoted at some point,” he said. “It’s not a straight line to success.”
As a profit-focused fund, Mayoras added that brands need to have a reasonable approach to getting in doors, and avoid confirmation bias by seeking outside perspectives.
Natural Food Industry All-Stars Have Spoken at NOSH Live
Co-Manager, Food & Agribusiness Fund, Advantage Capital Partners
Tyler Mayoras has over 20 years of private equity investing experience and is currently the Co-Manager of the $155 million Advantage Capital Food & Ag Fund. Mr. Mayoras invests in and helps scale growing food and agriculture companies. He has been an investor or board member in a number of high growth companies including Shenandoah Growers, Farmhouse Culture, Fishpeople, Simple Mills, Tiesta Tea and Boca Burger.
CEO & Co-Founder, Coolhaus
Natasha Case founded Coolhaus in 2009 with Freya Estreller after she was working in architecture at Walt Disney Imagineering. They launched their architecturally-inspired, unique ice cream sandwich company from their barely driveable postal van at the Coachella Music Festival to an audience of 100,000. They built a loyal following over the festival weekend and returned to LA to an abundance of viral press, a rapidly building social media following, and an eager foodie audience. Since then, Natasha has been named a Forbes 30 under 30 Food & Beverage, Zagat 30 Under 30, Linked in 10 under 35 for Food & Leisure, as well as being featured in many national publications and radio like Cosmo, Dwell, and NPR, and TV shows including Food Network’s Chopped, Barefoot Contessa, Unique Sweets, Good Morning America, King of Cones, Andy Cohen Live and many more. The company has become one of the leading innovative small dessert businesses, growing significantly to include 4 trucks and 2 storefronts in LA, 2 trucks and one cart in NYC, and 4 trucks in Dallas, Texas. Moreover, consumers can now find Coolhaus’ pre-packaged ice cream sandwiches, hand-dipped bars, and hand-packed pints in 6,000+ gourmet grocery stores nationally, including Whole Foods and Gelson's, and larger retailers like Meijer and Safeway, and now internationally in Asia and the Middle East.
Founder, Sonoma Brands
Jon founded Sonoma Brands in January 2016 to invest in high-growth, emerging consumer brands and selectively incubate new concepts. Jon currently leads all aspects of the Firm’s investment strategy and portfolio company management. Prior to founding Sonoma Brands, Jon was the Founder & CEO of KRAVE Pure Foods (“KRAVE”). Jon has always been an avid runner, and when he was training for the New York City Marathon in 2009, he realized the opportunity to turn a commonly used training food into something truly special. With encouragement from his mentor and business school professor, Steve Blank, Jon founded KRAVE with the intent on making jerky that tastes good without chemicals and additives. KRAVE went on to become one of the fastest growing CPGs in the country, culminating in the acquisition by The Hershey Company in 2015. Prior to KRAVE, Jon was the President of Viansa, a successful destination winery in the Napa and Sonoma valleys. Jon received his B.S. in Economics from Santa Clara University and his dual M.B.A from the Haas School of Business, University of California Berkeley and Columbia Business School.
Divisional Merchandise Manager, Chilled Packaged Goods, Walmart
Sarah has spent the last 10 years in the food business at Walmart. During this time she has held roles in private brands, sustainability as well as various buying roles in merchandising. She’s currently leading the refrigerated buying teams to cultivate a new shopping experience. She is passionate about growing American entrepreneurs and creating new models for growth.
Vice President of Grocery, Whole Foods Market
Dan Epley is the Vice President for Whole Foods Market’s Grocery Team, based at the company’s headquarters in Austin, Texas. He leads the merchant teams for Dairy, Beverage, Frozen, Snacks, Candy, Meals, Baking, Essentials, and Breakfast. He’s a key leader for the merchandising evolution where Whole Foods Market has been moving from a decentralized, regionally based structure to a more centralized, hybrid model that is focused on customer-centric data-rich category management capabilities and improved execution. Previous to WFM he spent 26 years in Merchandising at Target Stores where he had leadership roles in Grocery, Domestics, Electronics, Home Improvement, and Sporting Goods. He’s known for brand development, innovative merchandising, strategic negotiations, marketing, process improvement, and sourcing. While not at work he enjoys going on adventures around the world, fishing remote Canadian lakes, and spending time with his family.
Founder & CEO, CAULIPOWER and Vegolutionary Foods
Gail Becker is the Founder and CEO of CAULIPOWER and Vegolutionary Foods. Already well known in professional circles, Gail’s career reached the highest levels of media, politics and business - including executive roles at Warner Bros., The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and Edelman. But as a mom of two boys with celiac disease, Gail was not happy with the gluten-free options available to her family. Who wants pizza that’s full of sugar and chemicals, or doesn’t taste anything like pizza, or takes 90 minutes to make? Seeing that the food industry offered no nutritious solutions for busy, foodie families to enjoy together, Gail took matters into her own hands and launched CAULIPOWER in early 2017. CAULIPOWER disrupted one of grocery’s most stagnant categories and is now the #1 gluten-free pizza and #1 fastest growing pizza brand in the U.S., with availability in over 22,000 stores. Earlier this year, CAULIPOWER was honored with Walmart’s “Supplier of the Year, Innovation” award. In 2018, Gail launched a new mother brand, Vegolutionary Foods, as a platform for innovative, approachable and convenient meal-hacking products, including the world’s first superfood toast, Sweet PotaTOASTS. Gail is a passionate advocate for new entrepreneurs, women in business and making vegetable nutrition accessible and delicious to all - especially kids.
President & CEO, The Tofurky Company
Jaime Athos is a visionary and passionate leader in the plant-based foods industry. With more than 14 years of experience building and supporting its growth, Athos is energized by the ever-increasing opportunity and adoption of plant-based foods worldwide. Prior to his current role as President and CEO at The Tofurky Company, Athos held a variety of other positions within the brand that is also his family’s business, from a college summer job making tempeh to roles in quality assurance, research and development, and operations. As a category leader Tofurky serves a purpose beyond the plate, acting as an engine for global change. Athos exemplifies and manifests this change by way of plant-based political activism, eco-friendly manufacturing, and pursuit of food innovation that helps people to make better choices for farm animals, the environment and health. Athos holds a Doctoral degree in neurobiology and behavior from the University of Washington and a Bachelor of Science degree in fish biology from the same. He is a founding member of the Plant Based Foods Association, where he currently serves as president of the Board. The association aims to ensure a fair and competitive market place for all businesses selling plant-based foods, promoting policies and practices that improve opportunities for the industry, and educating consumers.
Co-Founder & Co-CEO, mindbodygreen
Colleen Wachob is Co-Founder and Co-CEO at mindbodygreen. She graduated from Stanford University with degrees in international relations and Spanish, and spent 10 years working at Fortune 500 companies including Gap, Walmart, and Amazon. Wachob lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband, mbg Founder and Co-CEO Jason Wachob and her two daughters, Ellie and Grace.
Next Event: NOSH Live Summer 2020 in NYC
The next NOSH Live event takes place at the Metropolitan West in New York City on June 8 and 9. More than 300 natural food industry founder and executives will come together to discover what's next for the industry and move their businesses forward. Plan ahead and secure your seat at the two-day event for the natural food industry. Early registration savings of $200 per ticket ends May 1st.