Founded in 2011, Texas-based SKU was created by lawyer Shari Wynne Ressier and entrepreneur Clayton Christopher to transform startup brands into household names by providing all the resources founders need to accelerate the growth of their brands.
The Food & Beverage Track is the first in SKU’s history to focus exclusively on F&B brands and encompasses six diverse startups, from gourmet cookies to functional beverages.
“SKU is on a mission to connect founders to CPG resources so they can create the household brands of tomorrow,” said Emily Kealey, SKU’s MD.
“The SKU Food & Beverage 2023 is another example of this mission at work. We are excited to launch this cohort at Expo West 2023 and showcase each brand at our SKU booth. Through our mentors, partners and sponsors, our unique ecosystem gives us the opportunity to accelerate these founders so they can make a lasting change in the CPG industry.”
The programme kicks off at 2023 Natural Products Expo West, running from 8-11 March in Anaheim, California. The cohort then participates in a 12-week programme of workshops covering channel strategy, positioning and branding, packaging, labelling and safety, operations and fundraising.
According to Kealey, the mentors are what truly sets the accelerator apart.
“SKU’s mentor community is a who’s who in the CPG industry and includes entrepreneurs, investors and top executives from some of the most successful consumer product companies, including Coca-Cola, 7-Eleven and Target,” she said.
“They all are united in a shared desire to help founders successfully scale these companies.”
The 2023 cohort
Sisters Claudia and Cristina Sanchez Gutierrez de Piñeres have put an innovative twist on their favourite Latin snacks. DelOrigen’s products include frozen cheese sticks and empanadas that are keto, gluten-free, plant-based and whole grain, without any additives. It a pioneer in the healthy food industry in Colombia, where it has a double-digit market share in the frozen baked goods category. It is now expanding its footprint into the US market.
RoRo’s Baking Company
The family-owned Dallas-based company specialises in handmade rolls. Amy Collins was inspired by her grandmother (known as RoRo), who gained a reputation for her Cinnamon Rolls and Dinner Rolls made in her kitchen. Collins created the company to share these treats with a wider audience. RoRo’s products now are available in the frozen sections of grocery stores across the Southeast.
Married couple Luis Gramajo and Hans Schrei built the farmer’s market cookie business on the premise that the foods we share help tell the story of who we are, Their mission is to fearlessly tell these stories, creating the Safe Spaces others may need to tell theirs. Gramajo and Schrei moved from their home country of Guatemala to Austin and their outlook on life was forever changed. They hope a box of Wunderkeks cookies will become a symbol of allyship and a marker of a Safe Space.
Founded by father-son duo (both named Austin Pittman) on their Texan family ranch, Blue Norther offers craft Ranch Water and Hard Seltzer made with real fruit and organic agave, which is “as refreshing as the Cowboy Cold Front that it was named after.”
Growth Spurt, created by Kacey Witte, is a full-fat goat milk formula that provides a follow on from breastfeeding, being naturally easier to digest than the other dairy and cow milk formulas. The most common allergy in children under age three is to cow’s milk. Growth Spurt adds essential vitamins and minerals to the formulation to meet all of a baby’s needs for growth and development.
Founded by brothers and former D1 collegiate athletes Alex and Steve Michaelsen who saw the need for hydration drinks to fuel not only physical performance but also mental wellbeing. The effects of dehydration were leaving them feeling stressed, anxious, mentally fatigued and dealing with brain fog on a daily basis – yet no products in the hydration category were made with their mental wellbeing in mind, so they created Leisure.
Coca-Cola is the lead sponsor of the Food & Beverage Track, expanding its partnership forged for last year’s SKU Atlanta track.