Consumer Brands & Investment Forum
A serial entrepreneur, Ben Lewis’ experience lies at the intersection of brands, technology and food. He has worked extensively in the organic food industry, honing a well-rounded understanding of consumer facing brands and what it takes to build them. Ben has helped pioneer trends like cold-pressed juice and cold-brew coffee, taking them from obscure, emerging concepts to household buzzwords.
Ben’s first foray into business was in high school when he founded a charitable bottled water company out of the back of his car. As a student at Wharton, he co-founded The Epic Seed, a Greek yogurt brand with a national footprint and a cult-like following. Most recently, Ben built a national distribution company which acted as an incubator to up-and-coming food and beverage brands. Over the course of four years, Ben grew the company from zero to $25 million in revenue and a team of 75 people, building a nimble just-in-time supply chain spanning eight regions. Ben’s accomplishments are a direct result of his willingness to innovate and use unorthodox solutions to transform businesses. Through his many experiences, Ben has developed a deep understanding of the obstacles and demands unique to modern consumer products marketed to a younger generation—especially those related to food.
Today, Ben is the co-founder and CEO of the direct-to-consumer startup Little Spoon, the first company to offer fresh, nutritionally optimized meal plans suited to the evolving needs of growing babies. Ben is passionate about design, healthy living, food of all types, and creating processes that run smoothly. Ben grew up in Pittsburgh and currently lives in San Francisco.
Brian Rudolph is on a mission to make nutritious food more accessible. At the age of 23, Brian co-founded Banza with his brother Scott. Banza makes a high protein, lower carb pasta made from chickpeas.
Today, Banza is the fastest growing brand of pasta in the country. The product has entered over 5500 retail stores, was named by TIME Magazine as one of the 25 Best Inventions of 2015, and has been featured on Good Morning America, The New York Times, and CNBC's Restaurant Startup. The company was accepted into the inaugural Chobani Food Incubator class, and recently closed a round of funding from the same investors that backed Bai, Alex and Ani, and Vita Coco.
Mr. Rudolph is a member of the Forbes 30 under 30 and Inc 30 under 30 lists. Brian received his BBA from Emory University and is an alumnus of the Venture for America fellowship.
Carly is the founder and CEO of Beekeeper's Naturals, a natural health product company focused on superfoods from the hive and dedicated to saving the bees. Beekeeper's Naturals is devoted to sustainable sourcing and developing innovative nutraceuticals to provide effective natural solutions to modern health problems. Carly is committed to using her company as a platform to raise awareness and funding for the bee cause and promoting sustainable practices and pesticide free beekeeping.
Before founding Beekeeper's Naturals, Carly worked as an Analyst at Goldman Sachs in their Securities division and formerly spent time working at the William J. Clinton Foundation.
David Cohen - Chief Popsicle Hustler and Co-Founder of Dream Pops. He was previously a business development associate for Yeastie Boys Bagels, Los Angeles’ 1st Bagel truck which has recently become a sensation with California natives. Before this, Mr. Cohen worked at NCLUSIVE, a Creative Agency and Venture Studio in Los Angeles with digital expertise and resources to build brands, elevate talent and transform companies from ideation through development and scale.
David Greenfeld - CEO and Co-Founder of Dream Pops. Leads the finance, marketing and strategic partnership efforts for Dream Pops. He previously worked as an investment banking associate at Houlihan Lokey in their Consumer Retail and Industrials corporate finance group. He was responsible for sellside and buyside M&A as well as financings ranging from $50 million to $2 billion in value. Mr. Greenfeld also worked at Tesla Motors and at 100 Mile Group, a venture fund focused on disruptive consumer companies with investments including Zico Coconut Water, HealthWarrior, Sheets Energy Strips and Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit.
Deepa is co-founder and COO of Dagne Dover, a handbag company that perfects the combination of functionality and design. Deepa manages all day-to-day operations from supply chain management and sourcing and production, to investor relations and customer experience. Deepa has vast experience in fashion and finance, previously working for Club Monaco and Lehman Brothers. Her analytical skills and industry insight contribute to her success in driving Dagne Dover's consistent growth since the company's beginning. Deepa is a graduate of John Hopkins University and received her MBA from The Wharton School. In 2015, she was selected for Forbes' 30 under 30.
Divya Gugnani brings 17+ years of investment and entrepreneurial experience to her role as Co- founder of Wander Beauty, a brand focused on multitasking makeup essentials created with global inspiration. Prior to that, she co-founded Send the Trend, an e-commerce site focused on personalized fashion and beauty, and sold it to QVC, where she focused on digital innovation. She is a serial entrepreneur and has co-founded multiple companies.
Divya started her business career in Investment Banking at Goldman Sachs and then moved on to private equity and venture capital at Investcorp International and FirstMark Capital. Divya is a self-proclaimed startup junkie, a food and fashion lover, as well as a beauty experimenter. She has appeared regularly on several shows on CNBC, NBC and MSNBC. She has also been featured in The New York Times, Vanity Fair, BusinessWeek, TIME Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, The Deal, and Crain’s, among several other publications.
Divya has contributed to The Huffington Post, TODAYshow.com, Daily Beast, The Nest Magazine and Woman’s World. She is the author of the book Sexy Women Eat: Secrets to Eating What You Want and Still Looking Fabulous, published by HarperCollins. In addition to a B.S. from Cornell University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, Divya attended the French Culinary Institute.
Erika Szychowski is fearless. She’s also an influencer, social disrupter, solution-seeker, collaborator, world traveler, harem leader, and damn good baker. A global citizen, Erika has lived around the world, and her career has taken her to over 70 countries. She’s a global branding authority who specializes in sports and entertainment, financial services, fashion — and now food. Her impressive client work has spanned from The Rolling Stones to the Olympic Games. Over the years she has “collected” people, not things, and this trusted inner circle of dear, beloved friends is the core of Erika’s greatest adventure to date: Founder and CEO of Good Zebra.
Good Zebra is the answer to many of Erika’s questions: How can I escape the corporate jungle? Is there a better way than boring bars to get protein on-the-go? Why don’t spirit animal crackers exist? Inspired by street art, tattoos, and better-for-you ingredients, Erika merged her passion and talent for baking with her vision for a female-led company ready to fearlessly turn the snack industry upside down.
Erika has fearlessly reinvented the iconic childhood animal cracker with a punch of protein and a solution to the refined sugar rush: organic honey and coconut sugar. No longer the caged circus animals of the past, each Good Zebra cracker roams free as a spirit animal, designed by her artist cousin and transformed into true totems of taste.
Like her company’s namesake, Erika is fearless, disruptive, female-centric, loyal, and transparent. And above everything else, she’s black + white [nothing shady].
Szychowski received her Bachelor of Science from Georgia Southern University. She currently lives in New York, N.Y. She is an active mentor to females in leadership and was the executive producer on the award-winning documentary, Two Million Tears: Africa’s Silent Epidemic (2009), KBTV Productions.
Renowned for her expertise in domestic and international product development, sales, and brand marketing.
Founder and CEO of HFactor, Gail is a successful serial entrepreneur in a wide range of industries. As one of the first Internet retailing pioneers, Gail created a design and fulfillment company of home décor, gifts and outdoor lifestyle products that became one of the most lucrative resources for commercial giants such as 1-800 Flowers, FTD, Pro Flowers, Hallmark, and Garden.com. Gail then transferred her start-up prowess to designing fashion hard goods for celebrity notables, such as Martha Stewart, Katie Brown, Christopher Lowell and Jaclyn Smith, in the tabletop, home and office décor, and garden industries. Gail’s work has been featured in numerous trade publications, as well as on Oprah, CBS, and NBC. Gail has also been a prominent voice in politics and the green movement, founding the White House Millennium Green Committee, a national project of the White House Millennium Council. In this role, Gail brought together public and private groups, including the Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy, the Department of Justice, the US Forest Service, and countless corporations. In December 1999, after leading the initiative shepherded by First Lady Hillary Clinton, Gail was honored at a formal ceremony in Washington, D.C. Now Gail’s main focus is HFactor, another company she founded in 2013. HFactor is a truly functional beverage company that provides hydrogen infused water. Not only the product is award winning, its ergonomic and eco-friendly hydro-pack is an innovative and iconic package designed to deliver the best in hydrogen water. Developed by a team with dynamic achievements in entrepreneurship, professional sports, global marketing, and regulatory health, HFactor is more than a functional water. It’s a movement designed to change the way we think and drink.
Hamutal founded Schieber Research in 2009 to support decision-makers with integrative, concise, hands-on research. With 17 years of market research experience, she has consulted hundreds of clients and had served as VP for a competitive intelligence firm and for an investment company. Hamutal has written about consumer and industry trends for the leading Israeli newspapers and has lectured at business schools, companies, NGOs, and government agencies. She graduated from the Hebrew University Faculty of Law and was admitted to the Israeli Bar.
Heather McDowell is the founder and CEO of Tickle Water, a brand of naturally flavored sparkling water designed for kids. A New York-based entrepreneur, Heather launched the company to provide a fun but healthy, sugar-free, preservative-free beverage choice for families. Before building Tickle Water, she worked with different organizations in the food, beverage and luxury goods industries, providing marketing and management consulting. For ten years, she managed the auctions for Antiquorum, a prestigious auction house specializing in timepieces.
Heather is a longstanding fitness and nutrition advocate, using her business platform to communicate the value of healthy lifestyles for people of all ages, including kids. She has a BA in Spanish and a minor in Fine Arts from Westmont College, in Santa Barbara, CA. Heather lives in New York with her husband and son, the original inspiration for Tickle Water.
Holly Becker Zimmerman has been a Managing Director of Golden Seeds since 2012 where she is the co-head of the investment firm’s consumer practice. Golden Seeds, which invests in woman-lead, early stage businesses is a venture capital firm that also has an active angel network of nearly 300 members. For the past 20 years, Holly has worked with companies across consumer-related industries at various stages of growth; as an investor, a research analyst and as a consultant. She worked in the Equity Research Department at Citigroup and Lehman Brothers as a Managing Director where she lead the firms consumer products research before transitioning to the technology and media sectors. She has been recognized by Institutional Investors’ All American Research Team for seven years, ranking No, 1 in each of her coverage areas including: Cosmetics, Household Products, Internet portals and E-Commerce.
Holly has also held positions at Jennison Associates, a New York based Money Management Firm, and as a Consultant with McKinsey & Company. Prior to graduating from Business School, she worked in Brand Management at Proctor & Gamble and in Mergers & Acquisitions at First Boston.
Mrs. Zimmerman received a B.S. in Economics from the University of Illinois and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
Jeremy is a finance and accounting professional with over fifteen years of experience in corporate consulting. Along with his wife, Katy, Jeremy is both a co-founder and acting CFO of Stage 1 Financial, an outsourced accounting and finance solution for investor backed brands. Jeremy commits fully to client services through elevated strategies for growing companies of all backgrounds.
His first introduction into the world of accounting and finance began with a four-year tour in the Navy, instilling in him the building blocks of discipline and organization. Through the course of his career, Jeremy has lived in two countries, four states and seven cities allowing him to experience the world and nurture the ability to see potential in the diversity of ideas.
Jeremy previously worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers and DryBar - a company that experienced a 500% growth during his tenure as their Controller in which he supported the organization in four separate fundraising rounds. His primary objective is to focus on young fast-growing companies, and more importantly, their owners. Helping to make individuals successful in achieving their dreams is the founding principle on which Stage 1 Financial was created.
Philadelphia millennial Jess Edelstein created and co-founded PiperWai Natural Deodorant along with her childhood friend Sarah Ribner. United by their passion for using toxin-free products as part of an overall healthy lifestyle, the pair was desperate to use a natural deodorant that didn't, well, stink. Because PiperWai was the first of its kind in a market saturated by ineffective and irritating natural formulas, it only took a couple of years (and a stint on ABC's Shark Tank) for Jess and Sarah to grow PiperWai from a small, bootstrapped side-hustle they handcrafted at night into a multi-million dollar, award-winning company that to this day has taken no investment and is still run by the original founders. PiperWai has been featured in publications from Forbes to Inc to Cosmopolitan with endorsements from The Today Show, Girlboss, iHeart's Skeery Jones, Adrienne Moore (Orange Is The New Black), and Actress Shannon Elizabeth. Jess and Sarah have appeared on HSN, CNBC's Squwakbox, AOL Build, WBEN FM's "Her Story" series and received a 2016 Best of Philly Award and honored as Entrepreneurial Winning Women class of 2017. Jess, a 2011 Pitt alum who is a self-proclaimed theatre nerd and dog lover, lives in South Philadelphia with her husband Marc and their rescue mutt Velma.
Jomaree Pinkard is an African-American male entrepreneur who was raised in New York City. His career has been a journey that has taken him from helping develop and implement the Salvation Army's September 11th World Trade Center Disaster Relief Program to providing his consulting company’s services for the National Football League, with BS and MBA degree pit stops at the University of Virginia and The Wharton School of Business at UPenn. Currently, he is a co-founder and CEO of craft cocktail company, Hella Cocktail Co. In 5 years, he and his partners have grown a hobby into a nationally distributed premium quality food manufacturer. While his business acumen serves Hella from a strategic, marketing and financial operations standpoint, he continues to learn about the life of a food entrepreneur as an end-to-end experience in the creation and growth of a premium lifestyle beverage brand. LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram: @jomareepinkard
Kaivan Dave is a growth marketer. He nourishes brands by providing them with healthy nutrients they need to grow into big, strong corporations that make the people who hired him very healthy and happy that they found him.
At Lifes2Good Kaivan was responsible for quadrupling their revenue and growing their Direct-to-Consumer business. During his time at Lifes2Good, he was the Director of the E-commerce, and he grew his team from a one-man show to an in-house agency. His creative vision and expertise allowed the entire company (every brand under the Lifes2Good label) to benefit from his new strategic direction. Lifes2Good, brand Viviscal was recently sold to Church & Dwight for a reported €150m.
After his departure from Lifes2Good, he Joined RXBAR and within three months he was able to break the company's B2C sales record in Jan 2017. Additionally, in May of 2017, he spearheaded the completion of an entire website redesign project and in October 2017 Kellogg acquired RXBAR for $600M.
In June 2017, Kaivan's pursued his American Dream one more time with Glyder.io. Glyder creates beautifully designed personal care products made from real ingredients that inspire confidence in the world. It took Kaivan 3 years to research and develop these products. He is currently transforming the grooming industry one shave at a time.
Karsten makes Asian-inspired savory snacks with good ingredients and no added sugar. He grew up in Hong Kong, where he became enamored with multiculturalism through the lens of food. He came to the US to study anthropology at Yale, then attended Harvard Law School. After dabbling in Islamic law & finance and dipping his toes in corporate BigLaw, the delicious call of food became too strong to ignore.
Research in food policy and public health inspired Karsten to be an agent for a better food system. After graduating from law school, he became a brand strategist for a marketing agency to build some fundamental skills required for entrepreneurship in the snack business. In the spring of 2014, inspiration struck, and the idea for Yumami Food Company was born.
Lilly Wunsch grew up near Los Angeles, CA. Her passion for simple, delicious, wholesome foods originated after she graduated from UCLA and was finally forced to cook for herself. She spent 8 years working for PwC in accounting & consulting, and still considers herself an Excel nerd. As a lifelong Californian, she loves nothing better than biking to the beach in the summertime. She became the co-founder & COO of 4th & Heart in 2015 and believes in learning something new every day.
Michael is a dynamic and innovative entrepreneur, who is especially passionate about working with kids and the millennial generation on a vision to drive healthy and sustainable change in the food industry.
Michael is a two-time alumnus of Johnson & Wales University (JWU), holding degrees in Culinary Arts & Food Service Management and Entrepreneurship. Currently holding over 20 different food safety certifications, he has continued education through various food safety and regulatory compliance courses, and, has also studied food sustainability and graphic design.
After completing his formal education, Michael went on to found several multimillion-dollar companies, including Global Food Solutions, which develops brands and products for the Food Service and School Food Service industry; LineCor Distribution Solutions, which provides scalable third-party logistics and distribution services; and most recently, the LVYN Angel Fund, which focuses on investments in social impact business models. His companies – which collectively realize over eight figures per year in sales – follow a self-funded approach, with each free of investment dollars, bank funds, or debt. Michael's expertise in navigating and developing food products to rigorous USDA regulations and standards has lead to him to working with some of North America's largest food manufacturers. His core work focuses on developing healthy, sustainable products for the Food Service Industry, aimed at supporting local producers to maintain fresh, nutritious foods, and to sustain community building through supporting local business to the regions in which he operates. Through this work, Michael has developed and launched over seven category specific brands and more than 150 products in the Food Service & School Food Service Industry, including Right Start Foods (devoted to creating wholesome, clean breakfast products for the healthcare trade and School Food Service) and Alfresco Italian Specialties (responsible for one of the largest brand-specific programs to support local sustainability sourcing for New York State Schools). His products span the fresh, frozen, shelf-stable, and packaged goods categories, and focus on supporting local communities. One example is pasta, sauces, and bread items all produced by New York State businesses specifically for New York State Schools – with a goal of driving local sustainability and fresher, higher quality ingredients. The result is feeding tens of millions of students in schools per year, and also providing meals to those in need through government assistance programs.
Michael is also passionate about his community and empowering students through anti-bullying campaigns. In 2016, he launched a campaign in partnership with Monica Lewinsky, reaching millions of students with anti-bullying emojis and messaging incorporated on school food packaging. He is an outspoken supporter of providing meals to school kids across the United States and is actively involved with the #BESTRONG Foundation, No Kid Hungry, and various food banks in America. Most recently, he partnered with Mentoring USA to provide over 50,000 meals and snacks annually to students needing access to after school programs.
After receiving invites to attend five Forbes Under 30 Summit events the U.S. and overseas, Michael was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in the Food and Drink category for 2017. Shortly following, he was one of thirty distinguished chefs and food bloggers invited to the National Peanut Council's Millennial Food Summit and the National Peanut Council’s Harvest Summit. He regularly speaks to students and kids on changing the future of food, often returning to his alma mater (JWU) to share advice and expertise. He has served as a podcast guest on The Unconventional Life series airing on Forbes Media, which was ranked #1 by CIO as the podcast for entrepreneurs in 2017. Michael’s company Global Food Solutions was recently ranked by Inc. Magazine for the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing List of Private Companies in America with a rank of #1354.
Tommy co-founded SOUND Sparkling Tea -- a line of completely unsweetened, Certified Organic sparkling teas made with only sound ingredients. With a mission to redefine the sugar-laden carbonated beverage landscape, he teamed up with then co-worker, now co-founder, Salim Najjar to launch the product in 2015.
SOUND was recently selected as the Best New Organic Beverage at a large industry trade show, and praised by Bon Appetit as their “new favorite bubbly sip”.
Tommy received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Loyola College in Maryland, and worked as an engineer in the nuclear power industry prior to founding SOUND
Vanessa Phillips grew up in a New York family of restaurateurs and immersed herself in the city’s diverse culinary culture from an early age. But, a celiac disease diagnosis in her late teens meant strict adherence to a gluten-free diet and the realization that her favorite foods – bagels and Chinese food – no longer had a place in her future.
In 2010, on a whim and with lofty hopes, she sent blind samples of gluten- free dumplings, sealed in a ziplock bag, to Whole Foods Market. Just three weeks later, Whole Foods emailed her that the dumplings were accepted into the northeast region. That was the birth of Phillips company, Feel Good Foods. Fast forward to today and the company is sold in 5,000 grocery stores nationwide with more than 15 SKUs. Feel Good Foods is a woman-owned business and Vanessa is an advocate and champion for young woman turning their struggles into dreams.
Prior to Feel Good Foods, Vanessa operated Friedman’s Restaurant, a popular eatery in Manhattan’s Chelsea Market where she created an entirely gluten-free menu. Today there are five more Friedman’s locations all operating under her concept. Early in her career, Vanessa spent time on everything from restaurant menus and employee training to design and brand development at her family’s various establishments.
Phillips graduated from The New School in Manhattan with a degree in writing. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her son Finn.
Whitney Tingle is a wellness entrepreneur, healthy living expert and co-founder of Sakara Life, an organic, plant-based meal delivery program that sources fresh, nutrient-dense ingredients to help clients achieve transformative, healing and lasting results.
After gaining 15 pounds while working on Wall Street and suffering from chronic cystic acne, Whitney decided to take her health and happiness into her own hands. She had gone to see every dermatologist in the city and tried everything from Ayurveda to Accutane. When her dermatologist recommended another round of Accutane (after it didn't work the first time), she decided there had to be a better way to heal. She partnered with her long-time best friend and holistic health coach, Danielle DuBoise, to create a meal program that targeted the root cause of her problems, not just the symptoms. The Sakara Life program was born - allowing her to drop the weight and finally clear her skin while still maintaining her busy lifestyle.
Yosef’s love for innovation led him into the box subscription phenomena. In 2013 BoxyCharm was developed and launched. BoxyCharm is a full-size beauty and makeup subscription box. The Business model consists of paying beauty companies full manufacturing costs for their products. In addition to that BoxyCharm, provides beauty brands a $0 cost marketing campaign and engagement with a highly enthusiastic consumer base. BoxyCharm has allowed Yosef to engage the Millennial and Generation Z market. He has built relationships with major beauty brands and influencers also known as YouTube “vloggers.” He has utilized these relationships to catapult BoxyCharm’s success.
Yosef core values in business are: attention to detail in every aspect of the business, the use of technology is paramount, never compromise on anything and stay innovative based on trends.
As an investment opportunity Yosef sold a piece of BoxyCharm however, he is the majority shareholder.
It started back in 2005 as a concept focused on making iconic American snack foods better for you, offering a potato based puff and a line of extravagantly flavored low carb popcorns. In 2011, Charles Coristine took ownership of LesserEvil and realized that these initial products weren't truly healthier snack choices, that what wasn't good for our customers, wasn't good for the company either. So a more holistic mission to provide true options to consumers that actually made their world a little less evil was begun.
The virtue, cost and type of beneficial ingredients we wanted to use for our new line of snacks were not embraced by co-packers, long the go to choice for many companies. In 2012 a LesserEvil factory was born. By opening our own manufacturing facility, we were not only able to use better ingredients but control the integrity of our products and provide local jobs. In the very beginning of our new ownership, family and employees worked side by side sometimes right through the weekend. By seeing our company as a large extended family, we feel very strongly about providing an integrated message about the potential and discovery of LesserEvil.
It is not surprising that our company didn't finally flourish until we put everything aside from the initial company. In many ways our journey to find our place in the world along with our improved company mantra was all about what inspired customers. It took years to fine tune our approach and in doing so we became a much better company and we hope as people, too. While the roots of the company featured snacks that were lower in fat and calories, we believed in providing organic and natural choices that weren't just about quality ingredients but that also provided real sustenance. Choices that were good for the planet, too. There isn't a single product we produce that we don't think has the best possible ingredients. We invite you to join the LesserEvil life! It tastes, looks and feels really good on you.
Jodie Cohen has been marketing books and audiobooks to readers, parents, and educators for more than 17 years. She has extensive expertise in planning and implementing innovative multi-channel marketing campaigns that build brand awareness, maximize ROI, and increase revenue. Jodie has worked on initiatives to promote literacy including Hear Diversity, Guys Listen, and TryAudiobooks. She loves coming up with creative ideas to connect with new audiences and builds beneficial partnerships. Jodie is the Director of Marketing at Algonquin Young Readers.
Jonathan Greenhut is a serial entrepreneur, starting over 10 companies in the past 25 years with combined sales of over $900 million. Jon’s expertise is in the development and marketing of health and cosmetic products through direct-to-consumer efforts. He currently is the Chief Executive Officer of True Earth Health Products and Health Solutions Marketing. These companies have been recognized by Inc. Magazine and Ernst & Young, The Golden Bridge Awards and the American Business Awards.
Mike Indursky is a dynamic, exceptionally creative and well-known strategic global brand and business builder and leader. He is a proven, highly successful C-level global executive with an entrepreneurial spirit and marketing expertise with extensive experience across a breadth of high image categories and channels in public and private equity-owned companies. Mike has spent the last 26 years of his career in the beauty and wellness business and has worked across virtually every category and channel of distribution, here and abroad. He last served as President of Bliss World, LLC, the leading global spa skincare and service brand overseeing 32 spas and 3,000 wholesale doors across 40 countries. Mike helped in the December 2015 sale of Bliss and its parent Steiner Leisure for $920 million. Previously, Mike was CMO of Burt’s Bees, the leading global natural personal care company, where he helped lead the growth of this small but special brand, driving strategic and executional direction around making a statement for the importance of natural products. The result was a sale to Clorox for $950 million, which increased enterprise value $775 million in 4 years. He recently founded and is running Audacity, a company with separate new ventures in wellness, beauty, fashion and entertainment. Prior to that Mike had leadership positions at L’Oreal where he was VP of Marketing for Maybelline and Garnier and before that over 11 years at Unilever where he was last SVP of Strategic Planning and Marketing for all of the fragrance and cosmetics brands including Calvin Klein, Vera Wang, Valentino, Lagerfeld and others.
Mike is a two-time winner of Advertising Age’s Top Marketers of the Year, WWD’s Most Innovative Marketer, Beyond Beauty’s Honoree of the year and is a frequent public speaker. He has appeared on AMC’s “The Pitch” (Season 2 Episode 2), WB’s “The Starlet”, and has appeared on TV several times including Fox Business, “Mystery Guest” on Bloomberg News, CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, ABC, etc.
Mike was born in the Bronx, NY and holds an MBA with a concentration in Marketing from New York University and a BA Degree in Business Administration from Baruch College. He lives in SOHO, New York, has a daughter Emma who works at Burt’s Bees Baby in CT, plays guitar (won Battle of the Bands), is a karaoke king and boxes.
Sandra Sokoloff is the Senior Director of Global Public Relations at A&M. She works with executives to create communications initiatives that support their business development goals and enhance their marketplace position.
Ms. Sokoloff has an extensive background leading effective communications teams and developing game-changing campaigns. She leverages social media, digital analytics, research and design functions to create executive thought leadership and corporate visibility initiatives that deliver on metrics and help drive results.
Prior to joining A&M, Ms. Sokoloff led the media relations team at the international public relations firm Porter Novelli, where she counseled clients across multiple industries, including consumer packaged goods (CPG), personal technology, healthcare and manufacturing. Ms. Sokoloff's expertise also includes creating and leading executive media and LinkedIn training, developing and distributing content, and designing new communications offerings.
Ms. Sokoloff earned a bachelor's degree in history and economics from Douglass College, Rutgers University.
Trent Moffat, is the owner at Gotham Brand Managers LLC, an independent sales, marketing and merchandising company for emerging growth snack and beverage brands. After spending 20 plus years of experience in beverage sales, operations, manufacturing, marketing, and finance with global brands such as Nestle and Heineken, he recognized the need for an effective and affordable option for new and existing brands in the NY metro area.
Trent began his career in 1992 with the largest US Heineken distributor and quickly became a top seller in their organization. After finishing his MBA, he was recruited by Nestle Waters in 1999 to manage corporate planning for their Home and Office division in Metro NY. In his last position with Nestle, as National Sales Manager for Home and Office division, Trent brought in new national business including JP Morgan Chase and successfully negotiated million dollar contracts with both the MTA and New York City Government offices. Seeking more entrepreneurial challenges in 2005 he discovered his first start up, a small juice company for kids based in CT called Waddajuice, co-founded by one of the founders of Snapple. Trent and his team quickly grew sales, adding large key accounts such as Toys-r- Us, CT Schools, Whole Foods, Fairway, and several key distributors. He was also responsible for sales with startup New Leaf Tea, helping drive sales in 2 years from $450,000 in 2007 to $4 Million in 2009 until its sale to Baywood International, a publicly traded Company in 2009. He subsequently founded Gotham Brand Managers in 2010. Trent currently lives with his wife and two boys in Westchester, NY and is a graduate of Syracuse University.
Yinon Horwitz is the Director of BD and Data Strategy at StartApp, an insight driven mobile tech company. Yinon leads StartApp's data strategy and working with fortune 500 companies on their strategy and data solutions. Yinon has been at StartApp for over 5 years and moved to the company’s HQ in 2016. He is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and seminars. Yinon has been nominated by Geek Time, The Israeli tech magazine, as one of 2014’s top-ten business development people in the tech industry.
Ian Wishingrad is an entrepreneur and award-winning creative director specializing in branding, advertising, social media and digital development. He is the founder and creative director of BigEyedWish whose clients include telecom giant AT&T, the NJ Devils, Dos Toros, FreshPet and many other businesses and brands. In 2015 he launched Nobituary.com, an anti-smoking web-app, with Oscar-winner and “The View,” co-host Whoopi Goldberg.
Prior to forming his own company, Wishingrad served as the Director of Creative Development at United Entertainment Group working on leading brands including P&G Beauty, Frito-Lay and General Mills. Before leading the creative department at UEG, Wishingrad served as the Sr. Manager of Creative Development at Vimeo. There he helped craft the Vimeo brand, established partnerships with Hollywood studios, and collaborated with the ad sales team to create custom campaigns for their advertisers. Before Vimeo, Wishingrad served as the youngest Senior Copywriter at TracyLocke. While there, he created the award-winning Wisk-it Facebook app, SoBe Skinsuit campaign, and “The Land of &” for Buffets Inc.
Wishingrad has won many accolades throughout his career including a Best in Show and Gold & Viral Promotion for the Wisk-it Facebook app. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and holds a Bachelors of Science in Television, Radio and Film. Wishingrad is a board member of the esteemed Newhouse Network.
When he is not working, Wishingrad enjoys discovering new cities, flavors and people with his wife. He currently resides in Manhattan, New York.
Join YJP for the Consumer Brands + Investment Forum, an event designed to bring together top investors, entrepreneurs, and consumer brands industry insiders for an afternoon of intimate roundtable discussions. These sessions will facilitate the new collaborations and ideas necessary to take your careers and companies to the next level. Less focused on individual products themselves, this Forum will provide attendees opportunities to forge strategic partnerships and cultivate new ideas so that they can make better decisions and take their companies to the next level.
This forum is a perfect event for Founders of consumer brands looking to connect with each other and investors to discuss their personal journey, challenges, and triumphs. We hope to see you at what is sure to be a great event filled with inspiration and entrepreneurial spirit!
This event starts on November 16th at 4:30 PM.