KRAVE founder on his incubation plans: 'The hardest million to make is the first million'

By Elaine Watson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Winter fancy food, Entrepreneurship

KRAVE Jerky founder Jon Sebastiani - who sold his business to Hershey last year – has already identified some entrepreneurs he hopes to mentor – and fund – as part of his new incubator, Sonoma Brands.

Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA at the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, Sebastiani said: “We have found a few that we’re talking to right now and we are very hopeful that they will work out and expect them to, but we are here at the show ready to meet many people that are interested in working with us.”

(Having problems watching the video? Watch it on YouTube instead​.)

Sebastiani, who has already “raised a significant amount of capital” ​(one of his partners is VMG Partners), said money was just part of what entrepreneurs needed: “The hardest million to make is the first million – to get the brand off the ground into distribution, to really prove out the selling story and really build the DNA of what the brand means to the market place…

"Me and my team are entrepreneurs first and investors second; we’ll invest but we will mentor, advise and assist in these crucial first decisions that brands have.”

As to what he is looking for, he said: “We have no boundaries or set formulas, but I am only interested in things that are entirely new, that stretch the boundaries of better for you foods, not launching me-too concepts.  I am tracking many emerging trends and have developed several concepts that I intend to introduce in the first half of the year.”

He added: “We’ll be incubating our own brands and investing in other early stage brands. We’re looking for strong leaders and unique – but high velocity – products versus differentiated products in very slow moving categories.”

 Check out our beverage trendspotting gallery​from the show.

Watch our video​ with EPIC Provisions co-founder Taylor Collins, on bone broth, and tying the knot with General Mills...

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