Industry Stars Speak on Lessons Learned & The Future of the Industry
All-Star speakers from established and up-and-coming brands inspire action through topics your business can apply now, like: lessons in growth, branding and marketing, how to raise and use capital, navigating the ever-changing state of retail, harvesting and harnessing customer insights and using data to make decisions. Industry experts drop knowledge on innovation, the investment climate and the future of the industry.
You’re running a business. Our on-stage content is curated for co-founders, CEOs, CMOs, COOS, revenue leaders and decision makers from across your organization.
Past NOSH Live Speakers
NOSH Live Winter 2020 speakers will be announced closer to the event. Check back for updates!
Founder & CEO, RightRice
Proven entrepreneur and innovator, Keith Belling is the founder and CEO of RightRice, the breakthrough vegetable rice grain that launched nationally in February 2019 with Whole Foods Markets and on Amazon and is now available in all Kroger banners nationwide and other leading retailers. Keith is also the founder and former CEO of popchips, the innovative popped-snack company that launched in 2007 and was named one of “America’s Hottest Brands” by Advertising Age. Keith is on the Board of Directors of Restoration Hardware and has launched and led a variety of businesses including AllBusiness.com and has been an advisor, providing strategic counsel and/or an investor in a variety of innovative consumer and technology companies ranging from AllBusiness.com, Olly and Modern Meadow to JUST Foods and Ripple. Like popchips, which Keith led to almost $100 million in revenues in just over five years, RightRice redefines another household favorite. RightRice is a complete, plant-based protein that’s made from vegetables and has more than double the protein, five times the fiber and almost 40% fewer net carbs than a bowl of white rice, and comes in Original and four already seasoned flavors (Lemon Pepper, Spanish, Garlic Herb and Thai Curry). RightRice is quickly gaining awards and acclaim, including being named “Best Plant-Based Food” by PEOPLE magazine in 2019. Keith, based in San Francisco, is a graduate of the University of California at Davis and holds a J.D.from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.
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.
Co-founder and CMO, Brazi Bites
Junea Rocha is the Co-founder and CMO of Brazi Bites. She moved to the US in 2005 after graduating from college in Civil Engineering and took a job in construction management in Portland, Oregon. She rose through the ranks quickly and hit a career-high, yet she felt unfulfilled. It would have been easy for Junea to lean into the success she found in engineering, but when she imagined her future she knew she would rather take a risk on a career she was passionate about than look back with regret. Although she did not have experience in the food industry, Junea’s love and passion for her homeland ignited an idea. In 2010, she and her husband started Brazi Bites with the hopes that Americans would love Brazilian Cheese Bread (“Pão de queijo”) as much as they did. In a few short years, they grew into a nationally distributed brand with a cult-like following after appearing on ABC’s Shark Tank in 2015, and were then included twice in the Inc.5000 list of “America’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies". She remains just as passionate and more excited than ever to continue Brazi Bites growth as a better-for-you Latin Foods platform, and making their products a staple in North America.
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.
Grocery Merchandising Coordinator, CSD, Kroger
In 2000, Andrea began her career with Kroger in Raleigh, NC, as a Management trainee. A couple of years later, she was promoted to Store Manger where she went on to manage several stores in the Raleigh area. In 2007, Andrea joined the Human Resources Team as the Division Recruiter for Management. Andrea recruited for Kroger’s Mid-Atlantic division until she was promoted to the Benefits and Administration manager. After working in this position for several years, Andrea had the opportunity to work in the Produce Department as a Sales Plan Manager. Then, in early 2012, Andrea was able to gain further knowledge of the operational side of the business when she was promoted to District Operations Coordinator. Andrea accepted a position as the District Manager in Little Rock, Arkansas in 2012. In 2016, Andrea joined the General Office team as a Division Promotional Coordinator. While working as a DPC, she worked very closely with the Louisville and King Soopers divisions. She was named to her current role in 2016.
Founder and CEO, Purely Elizabeth
Elizabeth Stein is the founder and CEO of Purely Elizabeth, an all natural and organic food company based in Boulder, Colorado. Stein launched the company in October 2009, with a goal to create foods you obsess over, made with innovate, nutrient-rich ingredients. Elizabeth is a certified holistic nutritionist with a background in business marketing from Boston University. She is passionate about building a company that is dedicated to helping consumers thrive on their wellness journey.
SVP of Commercial Development, BDS Analytics
Jessica leads the Sales and Consumer Insights Divisions at BDS Analytics, the premiere market research firm serving the global cannabinoid market. Together with her team, she works with brands, retailers, and investors to deliver unmatched insights and analytics. Prior to joining BDS Analytics and the wild world of cannabis data, Jessica Lukas spent over 10 years working with and for top global CPG and beverage alcohol companies.
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.
Vice President, Divisional Merchandise Manager, Frozen Foods, Walmart
Laura Rush currently serves as Vice President, Divisional Merchandise Manager of Frozen Foods for Walmart Stores, Inc. Laura has been with Walmart since 2010. She began her career as the Sr. Director of TV, Home Audio Video & iPod/iPad business. In 2013 she moved to the Fresh Services Bakery Department as the Sr. Director on that team. She stayed there four years, and was most recently promoted to VP/DMM of Frozen Foods in Feb. 2017. Prior coming to Walmart, Laura worked for Sears Holdings (2008-2010), CompUSA (1996 – 2008) and Game Stop. She was always in electronics merchandising for those companies.
Founding Partner/CIO, Legacy Knight Multi Family Office, Former Managing Director, Mark Cuban Companies
Abe manages the portfolio of early stage investments at Mark Cuban Companies with a focus on technology, logistics, and consumer product goods. Abe is also actively engaged as an advisor and board member with a number of companies leveraging his expertise in strategy, operations, and capital allocation to help accelerate their growth. Additionally Abe is a member of Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), Texas Family Office Association (TFOA), advisory board member at Institute of Excellence in Corporate Governance (IECG), and global advisory board member at Earth Day Network.
Co-Founder & Managing Director, VMG Partners
Kara co-founded VMG Partners in 2005 and focuses on all aspects of the Fund’s investment strategy, sourcing, execution, portfolio company oversight and exit management. Since its inception, VMG has partnered with entrepreneurs and management teams to provide a breadth of value-add resources in the areas of sales, marketing, branding, finance, operations and legal support which enable its partner companies to rapidly increase brand awareness, accelerate growth and build equity value. Kara serves, or has served, on the boards of babyganics, Bare Snacks, Drunk Elephant, Health Warrior, Humm Kombucha, KIND Snacks, Pirate Brands, Pretzel Crisps, Quest Nutrition, Solid Gold Pet, Sun Bum, Waggin’ Train and Vermont Smoke & Cure, among others. Kara has been an investor in emerging, lower-middle-market branded consumer companies for the last 18 years. Prior to her private equity career, Kara was an Analyst at the investment bank of Schroders plc and received her Bachelor of Arts in Economics and German from Colgate University.
CEO, Lily's Sweets
Jane Miller has 30-years of executive experience in the food industry. She has worked with both start-ups and Fortune 500 companies. She is also the founder of Janeknows.com, a career advice website geared towards young leaders starting their careers. Jane is the author of Sleep your Way to the Top (and other myths about business success), a sassy business book targeted at Millennials. Jane is currently the CEO of Lily’s Sweets and has held several other CEO roles in the natural and organic industry, including Rudi’s Bakery, ProYo High Protein Ice Cream, and HannahMax Cookie Chips. Over the course of her career Jane was part of an executive team that brought Hostess out of bankruptcy, worked for HJ Heinz as the Chief Growth Officer and then the President of the UK & Ireland Division. She also ran the Western division of Bestfoods Baking. Jane spent the first fourteen years of her career at PepsiCo, where she rose to be the President of the Central division of Frito-Lay. Jane currently serves as a board member at the University of Colorado Leeds Business School and Eldorado Springs Artesian Water. In 2013 the Denver Business Journal named Jane the Lifetime Achievement Award Winner for her work mentoring young professionals and start-ups. Her other honors include the Boulder Chamber of Commerce’s Women Who Light the Community Award in 2015 and the Naturally Boulder Industry Leader Award in 2016. In 2015, Jane established the Jane Knows Scholarship Fund at Leeds supporting students who are the first in their family to go to college. In 2018, Leeds recognized Jane with a non-alumni service award. Jane has a degree in Russian Studies from Knox College in Galesburg, IL, where she received a 2017 Alumni Achievement Award. She earned her MBA degree from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX.
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