to all our team members
Larisa is an audit partner with a focus in the manufacturing and distribution industry, including consumer products and food and beverage, as well as the technology industry. With over 20 years of experience, she has served middle-market privately held companies in a variety of industries. Her experience has been developed through her work domestically and internationally, with years of accounting experience in Israel.
- Areas of expertise include accounting and financial reporting, internal controls and fraud risk assessments, agreed-upon procedures, acquisitions and consolidations
- Assists clients with audits, reviews and accounting matters such as share-based payments, revenue recognition,variable considerations, software capitalization, equity transactions, debt restructuring and recapitalization
- Provides strategic business advice to management and technical accounting support to controllers and CFOs of privately held organizations
- Performs assurance engagements and coordinates additional services for her clients, including corporate and individual tax and business advisory
- Performs various business consulting engagements such as CFO advisory and mergers and acquisition projects
- Named one of the Most Influential Women in the Bay Area by the San Francisco Business Times in 2017
Kuli Kuli Foods
Ericka has over 25 years of marketing, sales and general management experience in the consumer goods industry. She holds an MBA from the University of Chicago and a BA from UCLA. Ericka’s career has included positions at large companies like Kraft and Nestle, but start-ups have been where she feels most at home for the last decade. At Kuli Kuli, Ericka’s focus is to drive profitable growth through innovation and strategic sales expansion. She is passionate about the Kuli Kuli mission to improve the lives of women across the globe with both business opportunities as well as healthy food options.
Lynn Yako Graham founded, scaled, and exited Beekeeper Marketing, an agency that helps natural and organic foods reach their potential on Amazon and other online retailer platforms. While at Beekeeper, she built a data analytics platform that ingested Amazon data and provided actionable insights for her clients and company. Prior to founding Beekeeper, she led brand marketing initiatives at natural foods companies, was a tech product manager, and was a strategy consultant. Lynn has a BA in Economics from Stanford University and an MBA from Haas Business School. She loves to play tennis, is a mom of boys, and loves hip hop.
Bank of America
Noel McArdell is a Senior Vice President and Market Manager for the Bay Area Business Banking team at Bank of America. In this capacity, Noel leads a team of financial specialists focused on delivering strategic advice with an emphasis on understanding a client’s industry and unique needs to ensure delivery of integrated financial solutions to help them attain their goals no matter how simple or complex. Noel’s mission is to help companies and local communities thrive by making financial lives better.
Bringing over 20 years of banking experience, Noel joined Bank of America in 2007. Prior to her role as a Market Manager, she worked as a Middle Market Client Manager with the Greater Bay Area. Throughout her banking career, Noel has served many mid-sized companies throughout the Bay Area to support their commercial banking needs.
Originally from Marin County, Noel graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Economy of Industrial Societies from University of Berkeley. In addition to her degree from Berkeley, Noel also attended the University of California, Paris, where she conducted a n economic comparative study of France and the European Union while studying French. She now resides in the Marin area with her family.
One Step Closer
Cynthia Billops, VP of Operations, Membership, and Belonging at One Step Closer, oversees, among other things, J.E.D.I Collaborative “Pathways to Action” – an OSC programming vehicle that offers action-oriented trainings; enabling organizations to set and achieve measurable DEI commitments using curricula designed by industry experts; a robust, online learning management system and a unique, interactive peer-to-peer support structure.
Cynthia is a 20+ year veteran of the IT tech/Non-profit world. Throughout her career she has focused on optimizing organizational and strategic leadership practices for C-suite individuals; designing efficient and effective business systems; creating/leading efforts to better align “vision-to-practice” and operationalizing/integrating J.E.D.I (justice, equity, diversity and inclusion) into org-wide policies and procedures.
Simultaneously believing that policies that are thoughtfully engineered, distributed and supported can: foster employee engagement; help effect systemic change and enable organizations to sustain themselves and thrive AND that some of the brightest minds in our country are being underutilized simply because they come from communities that are marginalized and/or vastly underrepresented; it is her personal mission to open as many doors as possible so that more people from a diversity of backgrounds are able to bring their “whole” selves to careers, conversations and solution-finding networks within the Natural Products and CPG industry.
Thuy Nguyen is a Category Manager at Thrive Market, the health-first membership for conscious living, with a mission of making healthy living easy, affordable and accessible to all. At Thrive Market, Thuy is building out the assortment in Dairy, Deli and Refrigerated Grocery in preparation for their Fresh launch. Prior to Thrive Market, she was the Forager at Good Eggs and focused her time on finding unique and differentiated grocery products to bring onto the platform.
Thuy graduated summa cum laude from New York University and has over 12 years of experience working within all facets of the food industry and supply chain from farmer’s market manager, to wholesale coordinator, to small business owner. Throughout her years working within food companies like Hot Bread Kitchen, FarmBox, and Good Eggs, she found the most joy in discovering small emerging brands and helping them grow. When she isn’t focused on trying the latest innovative ready-to-drink beverage, she spends time baking and thinking about ways to increase representation and diversity in the food world.
Karen Ivanis-Rogers is the Senior Director of the Business Ventures program at Albertsons. She loves her work there identifying disruptive brands in the natural and emerging food and beverage space, forming strategic partnerships to accelerate their growth and helping with their expansion and success. Prior to this job, Karen learned a ton working in CPG with Nestle, Johnson and Johnson, Clorox, Del Monte and Pharmavite in Sales, Strategy, Trade Marketing and Sales Planning roles. Karen lives in the Oakland Hills with her husband. In her free time, Karen loves anything in the kitchen from challenging baking projects, dinner parties new cocktail recipes to “putting up” jam and pickles.
David Davick is a seasoned finance executive energized by helping early-stage businesses grow successfully and establish a more sophisticated approach to their finances. Since joining Propeller in 2016, Dave has served as CFO and/or transaction advisor for over 75 SaaS, CPG, Blockchain and Tech clients.
Dave has 25 years of professional experience in Investment Banking, Corporate Finance, Investor Relations, and Public Accounting. In addition to his client work, Dave has leadership responsibilities for Propeller’s West Coast operations including its Business Development efforts and as Co-Lead of Propeller’s Transaction Advisory practice.
Prior to joining Propeller, Dave spent more than a decade at Gap Inc. During his tenure at Gap, he led the global apparel company’s Investor Relations program that was ranked #1 in the industry in Institutional Investor magazine’s 2015 survey of Buy-Side investors. Dave also oversaw teams responsible for Financial Planning and Analysis, Real Estate finance and capital allocation. He also served as Gap brand’s financial lead on strategic initiatives including mobile platforms, marketing effectiveness and third-party partnerships.
Dave began his career in Investment Banking, working in J.P. Morgan’s technology investment banking practice (then Hambrecht & Quist) and in audit and advisory services for PricewaterhouseCoopers. In those roles, he worked with organizations ranging from early-stage startups to large-cap public companies.
Dave is on the advisory board of HomeRunIQ, a real estate and financial technology startup. He is a former board member of the San Francisco chapter of the National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI) and is a Certified Public Accountant (inactive). He earned a B.S. and M.S. from the University of Virginia.
Outside of work, Dave and his wife, Natalya, report to their board of directors: their son, Felix, and daughter, Sasha.
Abby Pledger serves as Senior Director of Enterprise Strategy for Clif Bar. In this role Abby partners with the executive leadership team to develop and drive corporate strategy across all five of Clif Bar’s Aspirations – Business, Brand, People, Community and Planet by creating cohesive and integrated plans, managing for performance, and leading enterprise initiatives. Previously, Abby held a leadership role in business transformation/process improvement for Clif.
Prior to Clif Bar, Abby tested the waters as an entrepreneur by founding Goodness To Be. A company designed to unite and inspire women to be fit and healthy while building a network of support and community in the San Francisco Bay Area.
With a passion for leading organizations through points of transformation, Abby has served as a management consultant, both internal and external, with a focus on organizational development, strategic planning, change management and operational excellence. She has worked in many industries ranging from CPG to financial services to retail to technology at major Fortune 500 companies like Microsoft, Wells Fargo, Chase, and Landor Associates.
Abby calls Marin County home and as a nationally ranked US Masters swimmer and open water marathon swimmer can often be found in our local waters training and racing. She is a mom of two and loves adventures big and small with her teenage kids and husband. She is an alum of the University of Washington, earning a BA and a MBA with a focus on marketing and organizational development.
Janal is the VP of Operations at Guayaki. She is an experienced operations professional with a demonstrated history of working in the Food & Beverage industry. She is skilled in a broad spectrum of operations: Supply Chain Management, Cross Functional Team Leadership, Customer Service, and Project Management. Dedicated to building high performing teams and developing potential.
BRAUNHAGEY & BORDEN LLP
Dan Harris is a partner and head of the Corporate Practice Group at BraunHagey & Borden. Dan works closely with a wide range of innovative food system technology, CPG, software, hardware, and marketplace-based companies throughout their life cycles, advising on general corporate and commercial matters, equity and debt financings and mergers and acquisitions. Dan’s core practice also involves representing a number of leading investors in the CPG and technology sectors. Dan focuses on providing his clients commercially-grounded advice geared towards achieving their ultimate business goals and has represented companies and institutional investors in transactions totaling more than $3 billion over the past two years alone.
Dan lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his family. He enjoys exploring the world with his family and embraces his role as culinary guide on their trips. When in the Bay Area, you may find Dan reliving his days of playing competitive sports, perusing local farmers’ markets or cooking with his daughter and son. Dan is also a self-proclaimed oenophile.
Eric Munguia Saldaña
As CEO and an integral member to the Sabor Mexicano team from day one, Eric Munguia Saldaña embodies the company’s core values of local community, environment, quality and sustainability. In 2011, he first began selling their homemade salsas and chips at farmers markets which lead eventually into placement at the local Whole Foods Markets. Presently, Sabor Mexicano’s products are sold nationally in an impressive list of grocers nationwide. Taking pride in each ingredient of every recipe, Eric has been there every step of the way dedicated to offering the highest quality and most authentic flavors in every product developed and sold. Eric applies his comprehensive knowledge, attention to detail and deep connection to the Sabor Mexicano mission to make farm-to-table foods accessible to communities all over the world, to every partnership and relationship he helps to build on behalf of the brand. After 10 years at Sabor Mexicano, seeking a new challenge, Eric has joined the Buffalo Market team. The leading distributor of major food and beverage brands who are focused on improving the world. Buffalo Market is mission driven to make organic affordable and accessible in cities and food deserts. Buffalo Market is scaling a food movement built on quality, health for humans and for the planet.
OPEN HEART MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS
Drew is a purpose-driven leader with strategic communications, brand marketing, influencer marketing, and partnership experience with an emphasis on driving change through authentic storytelling that connects brands with consumers’ hearts and minds. He brings a unique perspective to marketing via his diverse career path including corporate, agency, nonprofit, and government organizations. Drew previously worked at Mezzetta where he lead communications and focused on planning and executing communications at the company, brand, and product levels via PR, partnerships, messaging, and storytelling. He also ran a consulting practice helping brands develop marketing and communications programs working with brands such as MasterClass, and e.l.f. Beauty. Previously, Drew led influencer marketing and communications at Clif Bar & Company, partnerships for Another Planet Entertainment, as well as entertainment marketing for The Clorox Company. He also spent 9 years in the agency world and helped start a nonprofit building playgrounds across the country. Drew serves on the Board of Directors of the Influencer Marketing Association, is a Council Member for Chico State’s Digital Marketing Program, and a Board Member of Town Business. Drew lives in Oakland, Calif. with his wife, 2 boys, and a rowdy dog named Rowdy. He continually thinks about sustainability, particularly around the evolution of food and how it affects our society. He’s also a member of a competitive BBQ team that’s won 3 world championships while living a plant-based lifestyle.
Andrew Hollingsworth is a globally experienced financial executive who has a passion for helping organizations achieve superior performance.
Andrew has broad experience in leading organizations in financing, strategic planning, performance measurement, valuations, mergers, acquisitions, treasury management, enhancing operational efficiency, and implementing financial and client development systems.
He has worked with a wide range of industries including financial services, consumer products, food and beverage, manufacturing, technology, non-profits (art museums, higher education) and the arts.
Andrew is the author of Danish Modern, published by Gibbs Smith in 2008.
Andrew is a co-author of The Practice of Risk Management published by Swiss Bank and Goldman Sachs, 1998
Alyssa is the CFO of Propeller Industries with experience in the consumer goods, e-commerce, and technology space. Alyssa has over a decade of financial planning & analysis experience and was the founder of a furniture e-commerce business. As a founder, Alyssa understands the entrepreneurial journey and enjoys supporting clients through their financial strategy to achieve their end goal.
Alyssa started her career at Yahoo! as a Financial Analyst before joining Ghirardelli Chocolate in 2009. At Ghirardelli, she managed the company-wide budget and forecast process, monthly financial reviews, trade spend analysis, cost accounting, customer and product P&Ls, and investment analyses. In between the first and second year of her MBA, she worked at Apple in the Corporate FP&A department. After business school, she transitioned into a general management role as Director of E-Commerce at Ghirardelli where she had full P&L responsibility of the business unit. There she managed direct-to-consumer SKU development, marketing, customer service, and in-house fulfillment, and led the relaunch of the website platform and order/inventory management systems. After Ghirardelli, she left to launch her own startup in the furniture e-commerce space with a zero inventory model.
Alyssa holds an MBA from Stanford, successfully passed the CMA exams, and has dual degrees in Finance and Economics from Santa Clara University.
Alyssa is a Seattle native but lives in the Bay Area. She loves adventure, is certified as a rescue scuba diver, and has backpacked or traveled through more than 50 countries. On weekends, you can find her exploring Marin with her husband and her son.
Ryan leads the consumer business group at BPM, a CPA & advisory firm based in San Francisco. He focuses on assurance work in the consumer space, and additionally provides technical accounting advisory services across industries. He also has expertise in SEC reporting, business combinations and similar complex accounting areas. Ryan has a personal interest in finance and helping clients achieve their business and financial reporting goals.
Davis Wright Tremaine LLP
Don is a strategic legal advisor and corporate counsel to emerging growth and middle-market Food & Beverage, Food Tech, and Ag Tech innovators and investors. His clients are based in the major U.S. food hubs, including the Bay Area, Boulder, Brooklyn, Austin and Los Angeles. His law firm, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP (DWT), has one of the largest food & beverage practices in the United States, with over 40 attorneys serving food venture entrepreneurs, emerging brands, larger food companies, and the private equity firms that invest in them, at every level of the food chain from “Farm to Label”. Don is a Founding Faculty Member and member of the Advisory Board of the Food Business School at the Culinary Institute of America (Napa Valley). He currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the board of Directors of KCETLink TV, the public television station in LA, and is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Technion Society – San Francisco Chapter.
Dianna Tremblay is the Chief Program Officer at ICA. She is responsible for scaling the impact of the ICA’s programs and cultivating the support and capital ecosystem necessary for entrepreneurs to scale their businesses. With expertise in program design and implementation, small business support, accessing capital, and ecosystem building, Dianna strives to use these skills to increase equitable access to capital, coaching, and networks for entrepreneurs of color. Leading ICA’s program work, Dianna continues to explore, test, and build programs that ultimately prepare companies to become more resilient and investment-ready.
Prior to joining ICA, Dianna’s professional experience included sales, corporate relationship management, and business development roles in e-commerce and textbook publishing. Dianna received a MBA from the Lorry I. Lokey School of Business and Public Policy at Mills College and a Bachelor’s in English from California State University, East Bay.
Shannon Toyos carries more than 18 years of innovation, brand and business building experience. Currently, she is the Chief Marketing Officer at Kite Hill. Shannon has a deep passion for driving awareness that the plant-based company crafts delicious artisan chef-inspired foods that enable consumers to feel good about what they eat while making a positive impact on the environment one bite at a time.
Prior to joining Kite Hill, Shannon was Vice President of Marketing for The J.M. Smucker Company where she led the business operations, marketing strategy and the innovation agenda for the on-trend pet ~$3 billion business unit. During her tenure, she launched many platforms including one of the largest new brand entries in the history of the pet snacks category “Milo’s Kitchen.” Additionally, she was part of the core team to develop the growth strategy to expand into the pet premium space that resulted in a ~$1 billion increase within the brand’s portfolio through focused M&A.
PURE CULTURE BEAUTY
Joy is a CEO, board member and advisor with over 25 years driving sales and profit growth through innovative brand building, global expansions, and digital transformation. She is known for both scaling businesses for accelerated growth and turning around troubled businesses in complex and demanding situations in small companies and large corporations. Joy transforms the retail and marketing landscape to online and digital, with extensive experience in brick and mortar retail across all channels. Her international expertise includes North America, Asia and European markets.
Most recently, Joy served as the Board Chairman and CEO of H2O+ Beauty, a leading brand in the premium skincare category. Joy turned around this global company that had lost relevance, made sweeping strategic shifts to its business model, revitalized its branding and launched entirely new, performance-based product line. She transformed its marketing strategy to online and digital. Additionally, Joy shifted retail strategy from relying only on branded stand-alone retail outlets to include online and prominent beauty distribution through Ulta, Amazon, Dermstore, Sephora Asia, and TMall. This resulted in reversing the declining business to +25% sales growth and +30% margin improvement.
Previously, Joy served as CEO and Board Director of Yes To, Inc., overseeing the global expansion and accelerated growth of its natural skin and bodycare portfolio. Amid the economic downturn, she scaled the start-up, catapulting the brand to the #2 ranking in the natural personal care category. She expanded the distribution of Yes To products globally and broadened the company branding to Yes To from the limited Yes To Carrots. Under Joy’s leadership, the business successfully grew +450% in revenue growth and the company valuation increased by 5x. During this time, the Yes To brand also won nearly 70 product and business awards including the top 100 fastest growing company. She launched the brand into mainstream channels, including WalMart, Target, Kroger, CVS, Ahold, Amazon, Sephora.
Before joining Yes To, Joy spent 17 years at the Clorox Company, serving as Vice President and General Manager of the laundry business, overseeing P&L for a $1B+ division, handling the company’s most valuable brand equity, Clorox, and managing a large multi-functional organization. At Clorox, she turned around the Laundry business to +4% growth, a +10% profit improvement in a mature, declining category, and securing Clorox’s market position as #1 brand in segment. During her tenure at Clorox, Joy also held other senior leadership roles including VP Marketing and VP Sales. In addition to her CEO roles, Joy finds time to support the community. From her immigrant upbringing, she values the importance of education to her own career. She has served as a board member on Junior Achievement, and most recently on Girls Inc, an organization whose mission is to help underprivileged girls to reach college. She is active on the Harvard Business School’s Advisory Council. Joy’s strong strategic and transformational skills have also led her to serve as a board member and advisor for tech and health and wellness businesses like Mezzetta and Visolis. She is frequently a judge for global startup competitions at Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley. She is an invited keynote speaker at many conferences and has been a content contributor to ENTREPRENEUR magazine. She was awarded Most Admired CEO and named Most Influential Woman Forever Honor Roll in the San Francisco Bay Area. She was honored with Stevie Awards for Women in Business in both the Executive of the Year and Mentor of the Year categories, as well as Executive of the Year from Best in Biz awards. Joy received her BS from the University of California, Berkeley and a MBA from Harvard University.
THE BURBANK GROUP AT MORGAN STANLEY
Willis Davis is a partner at the Burbank Group at Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management, a team focused on financial planning and the management of permanent capital for the founders of food, beverage, and consumer products companies and private equity and investment banking professionals. Willis and the Burbank Group manage over $2.0 billion and have been recognized by the Financial Times as one of the Top 400 Advisory teams in the United States every year from 2013 to 2020. Willis holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation (CFA) and graduated summa cum laude from Hampden-Sydney College. Prior to joining the Burbank Group, Willis worked for Morgan Stanley in New York and Washington DC where he advised high net worth families and institutions.
Willis enjoys running, reading and fly fishing and is actively involved with the San Francisco Riptide youth lacrosse program. Originally from Virginia, Willis currently resides in the Russian Hill neighborhood of San Francisco.
ASPECT CONSUMER PARTNERSIan Malone is a Director and a founding member of Aspect Consumer Partners. He has over 18 years of finance, investment banking, M&A and operational experience in consumer products, food & beverage, real estate and technology. Ian specializes in advising growing consumer products companies on mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance and other important strategic matters, with a particular emphasis on companies in the food, beverage, wine, beauty and personal care sectors.Prior to co-founding Aspect Consumer Partners, Ian was a Senior Vice President with Global Wine Partners, where he led execution on a number of M&A transactions in the wine and craft beer industries. Previously, he was a Managing Director at Premier Pacific Vineyards, one of the largest developers of premium vineyards, where he worked in corporate strategy, finance and portfolio management. Ian began his investment banking career at UBS Investment Bank advising companies in the Technology sector on M&A and corporate finance.Ian received his Bachelor of Arts from Kenyon College, and also attended Oxford University (St. Catherine’s College).
An experienced CPG Executive with a love for building brands and a drive to positively impact communities through natural & organic mission-driven businesses that inspire a shift forward in the food system and the world around us.
Pete currently sits as Chair of the Naturally Bay Area board and brings 20+ years of Consumer Packaged Goods experience to his role as Vice President of Innovation at Mattson. Having worked and learned at small and large companies like Kellogg’s, Foster Farms, Del Monte, Zola, Purely Righteous Brands, and the E. & J. Gallo Winery – he has led & developed iconic food & beverage brands including Kashi, Morningstar Farms, Gardenburger, Eggo, Foster Farms Fresh Chicken, and most recently his own husband-wife startup, Soñar! Organic Grain Free Tortilla Chips.
When Pete isn’t working or talking natural products, you can find him riding one of his bikes or teaming up with his wife to chase after their daughters on the soccer field or around the house in Oakland, CA.
BIG ROCK GROWTH ADVISORS
Kevin Cleary is a results-driven, people leader with a successful track record at private and public companies. His focus on vision and strategy is brought to life by successfully aligning all executional elements throughout an organization. He’s an effective team builder and inspirational leader who believes strong culture is the key ingredient to long-term success.
Currently, as Principal at Big Rock Growth Advisors LLC, he helps CEOs and companies drive and manage growth, while developing healthy cultures to ensure long-term success. Much of his advisory work is in leading organizations through the strategic planning process while also helping them create highly effective C-Suite teams.
Previously, as CEO at Clif Bar & Company, Kevin was instrumental in building Clif from a small company to the leader in the healthy snack food category. With a relentless focus on strategy, execution and culture, he built a multiple bottom line organization that won awards for green business, “Great Places to Work” and sustainable agriculture.
Jen Berliner is the General Manager of Moonshot, a new line of climate-friendly crackers made with regeneratively grown ingredients. She’s passionate about creating behavior change that makes people and the planet healthier.
Prior to Moonshot, Berliner was the CEO of Medlie, a leading fresh vegetable snacking platform incubated by Sonoma Brands. Berliner joined Medlie (formerly ZÜPA NOMA) in late 2016 from PepsiCo, bringing strong experience in growth strategy, insights-driven innovation, and channel and customer specific marketing programs. During her time at PepsiCo, she grew Mug Root Beer, Manzanita Sol, and SoBe; commercialized multiple “better for you” Foodservice innovations, and led Shopper Marketing at top retailers for three of PepsiCo’s $1.5B+ food & beverage portfolios.
Before joining PepsiCo, Berliner developed integrated marketing campaigns at GMMB, a communications strategy firm in Washington, D.C. She has also consulted for Google Food, where she led qualitative research into employee eating habits and provided recommendations implemented at the corporate level to improve food choices. Berliner earned a B.A. in Political Science and French from Vanderbilt University and an MBA from the Yale School of Management.
Mary Tarczynski has 25+ years of experience leading cross-functional teams to build equity and drive sales for CPG brands including Coca-Cola, Kraft, Clorox and Campbell’s. She left corporate marketing to spend four years in emerging ad tech; then in 2016 co-founded Parabolic, a shopper marketing agency offering “ideas with trajectory” – integrated strategies, concepts and activations to help established and emerging natural brands sell in and sell through at retail.
Mary is an advocate for diversity in leadership and serves as Co-Chair for the Network of Executive Women Northern California Region and as an Executive in Residence at Plug & Play Tech Center, advising consumer brands and ad tech startups.
She and her husband live in Rockridge (Oakland) and are the parents of a Brown University graduate, UCLA student and high school senior. When not working, volunteering or traveling for fun, Mary can be found running or hiking on Bay Area trails.
Robyn Rutledge’s nearly two decade-long career in finance and investing has been concentrated in the consumer industry, with focus on food, beverage, and wellness-oriented companies. Robyn is the Founder & CEO of SBG Growth, a consumer-focused investment and advisory business. Through SBG, Robyn invests directly in consumer-facing businesses, often serving on the Board of Directors and as a regular advisor to the leadership team. Robyn also currently advises investment firms, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders on the consumer market landscape. Under the SBG umbrella, Robyn has also been serving a leadership role in CALM, an innovative startup backed by the University of California, which seeks to marry best-in-class consumer engagement, healthcare and technology. Prior to launching SBG, Robyn spent close to a decade with TSG Consumer Partners, a leading investment firm, where she was a Managing Director and Partner and subsequently an Operating Partner. Prior to TSG, Robyn was a member of the investment team at Thoma Cressey (now Thoma Bravo), and prior to that, worked in M&A at Goldman Sachs in New York. Robyn was born and raised in Canada and received a Bachelor of Commerce with First Class Honors from Queen’s University in Kingston. She subsequently earned an MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, where she was an Arjay Miller Scholar. Robyn is a passionate believer in life-long learning and is pleased to have been part of the The Food Business School’s formation team at the Culinary Institute of America.
Jim Taschetta is the co-founder and CEO of Akai Life, LLC and a member of the Naturally Bay Area board. He is a 30-year CPG veteran with mix of large company and start-up experience. He started his career in brand management at Procter & Gamble. During his 10 years at P&G, including 7 overseas, Jim built a variety of brands and categories. While at Coca-Cola, Jim led a $2 billion-dollar portfolio of brands, including the Sprite, PowerAde and Minute Maid brands. As an SVP at Visa, Jim led the repositioning of the Visa brand and introduced a brand management system to the marketing function. Over the last several years he has focused on bringing his experience to helping small to medium sized companies scale. He was one of the first executives at the fin-tech start-up Yodlee, which went public in 2015. While at Bare Escentuals, he led product and marketing and helped position the company for a successful sale to cosmetics giant Shiseido. Most recently, he led the expansion of start-up Caveman Foods, helping them to become a leading provider of Paleo snacks. Jim received his MBA from Cornell University and lives with his wife and two children in Burlingame, CA.
Vanessa is the Founder of Cultivate Creations, a boutique marketing, strategy, and innovation consulting firm focused in driving expansive growth for emerging and established natural and organic brands. She is consummate advocate for the consumer perspective and loves smart design, breakthrough integrated marketing, and innovative ideas. Cultivate Creations has a deep appreciation for a 360 approach to everything it does, and takes the time and thought necessary to ensure that its work and ideas speak to consumers, retailers, sales organizations, trade partners, press, and internal audiences.
New Hope Network
Carlotta Mast is the Senior Vice President of Content and Insights for Informa’s Global Health & Nutrition Network, which includes the New Hope Network in Boulder, Co. She is also the current board president for Naturally Boulder and sits on the boards of the Climate Collaborative, whose mission is to leverage the power of the natural products industry to reverse global warming, and of the Supplement Online Wellness Library (OWL), an industry-wide, self-regulatory initiative designed to create a rich and more complete picture of the dietary supplement marketplace for regulators, retailers and industry. Carlotta is a frequent speaker at natural products industry events and conferences and has been interviewed about natural products trends and market performance by The New York Times, NPR, ABC News, Business Week and numerous other media outlets. In 2013, Carlotta co-founded a paleo snack company called Wholly Bites, which hit the market well before Whole Foods Market and other retailers began adding paleo sections to their stores. Wholly Bites was sold in 2016 and is now marketed under the Thrive Tribe brand.
The Intertwine Group
Elliot Begoun is a 30-year industry veteran, author, podcast host, founder of TIG Brands, and a champion of Tardigrades. TIG Brands supports a community of entrepreneurs interested in building nimble, capital-efficient, resilient brands that become Tardigrades, not Unicorns. Learn more about TIG Brands’ programs here and catch Elliot at FoodBytes, the Hirshberg Entrepreneurship Institute, and the Natural Products Business School. Tune into the TIG Talks podcast and find Elliot’s articles in publications such as The Huffington Post, SmartBrief, and New Hope.