The top podcast for food and beverage professionals, BevNET’s Taste Radio features interviews with the leaders and rising stars of our fast-evolving industry. The shows also include discussion on emerging trends, innovation and news of the week from our regular cadre of hosts from the BevNET and NOSH teams.
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This VC Firm’s Special ‘Touch’ Is Helping Founders Build Iconic Brands
When evaluating funding pitches, Touch Capital founder and CEO Anna-Lena Kamenetzky doesn’t pull any punches.
Her straightforward style is shaped by over two decades of global experience as a brand operator and board director at multinational companies, including Keurig Dr. Pepper and JAB Holding Company. She’s helped incubate and build billion-dollar brands, and understands what it takes to succeed in the highly competitive food and beverage industries.
That perspective guides the vision and funding strategy for Touch Capital, a recently launched venture capital firm led by Kamenetzky that invests in consumer brands across food, beverage, pet and personal care. Touch Capital was founded on the thesis that CPG conglomerates “will continue to need to ‘buy-in’ innovation through strategic acquisitions.” By leveraging their collective operational experience, Kamenetzky and her team support portfolio company founders, including those of fast-growing brands Super Coffee, Lesser Evil and Catalina Crunch, by bringing “buyers'-side experience to the builders.”
We spoke with Kamenetzky during Taste Radio’s live podcast and meetup event in Austin, where she discussed the formation of Touch Capital, how global trends help inform the firm’s investments, how she evaluates innovative brands and their scaling potential, and the impact of a talent shift towards entrepreneurship. She also explained why investor feedback and input only works “if it's a pull and not a push,” how founders can mitigate risks for investors and offered a candid perspective on trendy concepts, ingredients and food and beverage categories.
0:45: Interview: Anna-Lena Kamenetzky, Founder & CEO, Touch Capital – Kamenetzky and Taste Radio editor Ray Latif chatted about Miami’s entrepreneurial food and beverage community before discussing how her experience as a beverage operator and an observer of global trends has impacted her perspective as an investor. She also discussed the value of entrepreneurs with prior industry experience, why an “‘A” idea doesn’t work with a “C” team, how she identifies potential for mainstream appeal in early-stage brands, and why “can they pull it off?” is a key question in how she evaluated founders and their plans. Later, she shared her take on notable trends, ingredients and emerging categories, including keto, gut health, cannabis and RTD cocktails.
Brands in this episode: Super Coffee, immi
The Best New Products And Brands We Saw At Expo East 2022 (So Far)
On location at Natural Products Expo East 2022, the hosts shared their respective takes on standout products and brands exhibited during the first two days of the annual trade show, which is being held at the Philadelphia Convention Center. The roundup highlights several brands that are using better-for-you, innovative and plant-based ingredients to disrupt legacy food and beverage categories.
0:39: Getting The Band Back Together. Everyone Loves Bryan Adams. What Can’t You Milk? – Former BevNET brand specialist Melissa Traverse returns the show as a special guest co-host, and it’s as if no time has passed. The hosts applauded the launch of and team behind Just Ice Tea, riffed on notable brands exhibited at Expo East’s Harvest Festival and debated whether Mike should be whispering about brownies. Later, Melissa named her “plant-based milk of the show,” Ray’s praised a pouch-packaged soup brand and John highlighted several premium sparkling tea brands.
Brands in this episode: Eat The Change, Just Ice Tea, Munchrooms, Lupii, Good Food For Good, Spero Foods, Supplant Co., Dalci, Elmhurst Naturals, Nitro Beverage Co., Small Batch Organics, bettermoo(d) Milk, Rip Van, I Eat My Greens, Pocket Latte, Fabalish, Sarilla, Tama Tea, Reishi Sparkling Botanicals, Inner Love Foods, Aqua ViTea, Eastern Standard Provisions, Fila Manila, Nara Foods, Oat Haus, Caulipower, Joolies, Chubby Snacks, Lil Bucks, Oba Snacks
How Do You Build A Profitable Business That Generates Millions In Annual Revenue? Think ‘Petit.’
The letter “p” carries special significance for Maxime Pouvreau. His last name, of course, begins with “p,” as does his company, Petit Pot, a producer of single-serve premium puddings that, according to the brand’s website, are “potted to perfection.” However, it’s Petit Pot’s focus on profitability that Pouvreau points to with particular pride.
A former pastry chef at Michelin starred restaurants, Pouvreau launched Petit Pot in 2014. The brand markets “pot de creme,” a traditional French pudding known for its sweet and creamy texture, in 3.5 oz. glass jars and typically sold in packs of two. Made with organic ingredients, the puddings are available in several flavors, including dark chocolate, lemon and butterscotch, and are also available in plant-based varieties.
In the years since its debut, the brand has charted a careful growth strategy focused on strong unit economics and a lean production model. That strategy has paid off, and today the brand’s puddings are distributed in over 6,000 retail locations, including Whole Foods, Safeway and Costco. Petit Pot is expected to generate $17 million in sales by the end of the year.
In this episode, Pouvreau spoke about his initial vision for Petit Pot and why he has stressed frugality and cautious spending since the beginning. He also explained how the hire of an experienced operations executive and planning strategy helped the company scale production and achieve profitability and how being ahead of the curve on permissible indulgence has benefited its development.
0:45: Interview: Maxime Pouvreau, Founder, Petit Pot – Povvreau met with Taste Radio editor Ray Latif in Austin, Texas where they riffed on the entrepreneur's previous career as a pastry chef before discussing Petit Pot’s partnership with UNSTUCK and the company’s work with the Women On Boards (WOB) Project. They also discussed how the brand gradually built a national presence at Whole Foods, aligning short-term execution with a long-term planning strategy, why “watching every dime” enabled the company to become profitable and why his decision to hire a COO was a game changer. Later, he explained why self-manufacturing gives the brand a significant advantage, how he considers innovation, why great taste is the best way to build consumer loyalty and the elements of Petit Pot's upcoming rebrand.
Brands in this episode: Petit Pot
The Most Asked Question We Hear From Founders. Jacqui Has A Hot Take.
In this episode, Taste Radio’s hosts reflected on recent networking and live podcast events at BevNET’s San Diego office and Super Coffee headquarters in Austin. They also addressed an often asked question from early-stage entrepreneurs and highlighted a few unusual products before Jacqui Brugliera took on one of the hottest of challenges.
0:39: So Great To See You, Even For 10 Seconds. Support With Scaling. All Hell Breaks Loose. – Ray admits to an issue with intros before the hosts chatted about conversations and connections from last week’s meetup events. They also offered advice on scaling strategies, riffed on a marshmallow-flavored bourbon, functional spices and a new mood-centric beverage line. Later, Jacqui took on Paqui’s one-chip challenge, eliciting sweat, tears and screams… among all the hosts.
Brands in this episode: Paqui, Super Coffee, Marquis Beverage, Good Sunday, Recoup Wellness, Pocket Latte, Seoul Juice, Courtside Beverages, Somi Energy, Kimbala, Petit Pot, Shmallow, Spicewell, Kentucky 74, Vybes, Honey Mama’s
$1M To $8M In Less Than 12 Months. How Brazi Bites Thrived Under Pressure.
When Junea Rocha launched Brazi Bites in 2010, she thought its success would hinge on being a first-to-market brand of frozen traditional Brazilian cheese bread. Fortunately, she was wrong.
Despite launching just a few weeks after another similarly positioned product, Brazi Bites has since developed into a household name. A major inflection point came in 2015 when the brand gained national recognition following an appearance on the ABC show “Shark Tank.” Within 12 months of the episode airing, annual sales surged from $1 million to $8 million. The cheese bread is now sold at more than 16,000 stores nationwide including those of Whole Foods, Target, Costco, Wegmans, Publix, Kroger and Sprouts.
In 2018, investment firm San Francisco Equity Partners acquired a majority stake in Brazi Bites after which Rocha transitioned from CEO to CMO and helped direct the company’s foray into several other food categories, including empanadas, pizza bites and breakfast sandwiches, all of which are based on the brand’s original cheese bread dough.
In this episode, Rocha spoke about the value of peer mentorship, getting up to speed as a food entrepreneur and how she’s utilizing her experience and resources to support early stage Latin business owners. She also discussed how Brazi Bites managed production challenges following its appearance on “Shark Tank,” the company’s thoughtful innovation strategy and how she and her co-founder/husband Cameron MacMullin evaluated potential equity partners and decided to sell a majority stake of their business.
0:45: Interview: Junea Rocha, Co-Founder, Brazi Bites – Rocha spoke with Taste Radio editor Ray Latif about the launch and mission of her Latino Entrepreneur Accelerator Program, why her advisory network was critical to Brazi Bites’ formative years and how entrepreneurs should consider the pros and cons of self-manufacturing. She also explained why appearing on “Shark Tank” was a double-edged sword, why innovative brands need to scale quickly or risk being left behind and why consumer trial has been the key to consistent growth. Later, she discussed how the launch of new products such as pizza bites is introducing Americans to the brand’s cheese bread and why she describes herself as “the opposite” of entrepreneurs that are great at raising money.
Brands in this episode: Brazi Bites
Brooklyn, She Did It. Her Way. And With No Outside Capital.
Chitra Agrawal had no experience in CPG prior to launching Brooklyn Delhi in 2014. Nevertheless, she has built the brand of Indian-inspired pantry staples into an admired and profitable company that generates millions of dollars in annual revenue. As remarkable as those accomplishments might seem, they weren't goals when she started out.
The daughter of immigrants, Agrawal envisioned Brooklyn Delhi as a brand that could connect Americans to authentic Indian cuisine through products rooted in culture and designed for modern consumers.
The brand’s flagship product is achaar, a staple Indian condiment made from pickled ingredients and is often prepared spicy. Chitra developed her own recipe for achaar, one that eventually caught the attention of a Whole Foods global buyer and also meal kit company Blue Apron, both of which became key partners in the brand’s rise to national prominence.
Brooklyn Delhi has since expanded its product offerings to include simmer sauces like its Golden Coconut Curry Simmer Sauce and Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce, as well as condiments including Curry Ketchup, Curry Mustard, and Guntur Sannam Hot Sauce. The products are sold in natural and specialty retailers across the U.S., online and via foodservice.
In this episode, Agrawal spoke about her vision for achaar as a pantry staple in American homes, the influence of her popular blog in the early development of Brooklyn Delhi, why consumer education requires patience and how she leveraged the brand’s strengths to win over Whole Foods. She also explained why the company has no outside investors, why profitability has always been top of mind, creating favorable contracts with co-manufacturers and how an omni-channel sales strategy has benefited the company.
0:45: Chitra Agrawal, Founder & CEO, Brooklyn Delhi – Agrawal spoke with Taste Radio editor Ray Latif about her recent transition from Brooklyn to the suburbs and the benefits of having a bigger kitchen and gave a primer on achaar and its versatility in cooking. She also explained why she is frustrated with Trader Joe’s, how she incorporated her personal story into the brand, why she didn’t pay herself a salary for the first four years of the business and how a remarkable meeting with a Whole Foods buyer changed the brand’s fortunes. Later, she discussed Brooklyn Delhi's partnership with Blue Apron, why she has been adamant about not taking outside capital and how thoughtful planning and ingredient sourcing is key to the company’s operational strategy.
Brands in this episode: Brooklyn Delhi
Insightful and entertaining!
Love hearing these valuable conversations and getting to pull back the curtain on what goes into building and growing a successful CPG brand. A must listen for any entrepreneur!
Loved it and great insight
Must listen if you are an industry participant
The bevnet team does an incredible touching on poignant topics while providing some humor along the way. Great show.