November 14, 2018

Innovative Startups Wow Judges, Investors and a Packed House at First-Ever Naturally Bay Area Pitch Slam for Natural Products Entrepreneurs in San Francisco

Siren Snacks takes home top prize as seven entrepreneurial companies vie for more than $30,000 worth of prizes; local food advocates Lisa Curtis and Chef GW Chew honored with Community Champion Awards

San Francisco, CA (November 14, 2018) – Seven entrepreneurial companies based in Northern California wowed a panel of top professionals and seasoned investors in the natural products industry and a packed house, taking home more than $30,000 worth of prizes, at the first-ever Naturally Bay Area Pitch Slam presented by Naturally Bay Area at the Presidio Officers’ Club on Thursday, November 1.

“Our first Pitch Slam was a celebration of the entrepreneurial spirit and innovation in the Bay Area natural products community,” said Don Buder, Naturally Bay Area President and Founding Board Member. “We were dazzled by the quality of all of the presentations by our finalists on the stage in San Francisco.”

The Grand Prize winner, Siren Snacks plant-based snacks in a pitch by Founder Elizabeth Giannuzzi, received $5,000, a booth at the 2019 Natural Products Expo West, an opportunity to pitch at the 2019 Natural Products Expo West Pitch Slam, a suite of professional services valued at $10,000, and 10 Naturally Bay Area individual annual memberships. Second place winner Tia Lupita Hot Sauce, pitched by Hector Saldivar, received a suite of professional services valued at $10,000 and 10 Naturally Bay Area individual annual memberships. Third place winner, Jiminy’s cricket-protein dog treats pitched by Anne Carlson, received $5,000 worth of professional services and 10 Naturally Bay Area individual annual memberships.

Pitch Slam prize sponsors include Anaya Foods, Aspect Consumer Partners, BPM LLP, Cultivate Creations, foodspace+co, Kinnenberg Management Group, Label Technology, Leavitt Group, Mattson, Mista/Givaudan, Moss Adams, New Hope Network, Trinity Brand Group, and Whole Brain Consulting.

Grand Prize winner Giannuzzi shared, “The experience helped us really narrow in on Siren’s brand messaging and challenged us to think through how we can most effectively communicate our progress to-date and long-term vision. As a San Francisco-based company, we’re grateful to be part of this incredible community and are excited about the momentum and validation to continue growing Siren Snacks into 2019 and beyond.”

“I really have to give a shout out to the tremendous Pitch Slam committee that made all the logistics at the event go so smoothly, but also all seven of the amazing Pitch Slam finalists,” said VMG Partners Managing Director Wayne K. Wu, one of the esteemed event judges.

Once Upon a Farm Co-Founder and CEO John Foraker, another judge, said, “I was very impressed by all the finalists that presented. The quality was very high and reflects well on the deep entrepreneurial food ecosystem in the Bay Area. I’m excited about Naturally Bay Area and will be a strong supporter. I only wish it had been around when I was early in my career. The network and support would have made a big difference for me personally.”

Special guests Lisa Curtis, Founder and CEO of Kuli Kuli, the first brand to bring the green superfood moringa to the U.S. market, and Chef GW Chew, Founder of Something Better Foods, which is radically changing how people eat with its Better Than Meat vegan products, received Naturally Bay Area’s first Community Champion Awards.

“Lisa and Chef GW Chew have contributed so much to the natural products community in their own special ways,” said Buder. “Lisa not only started her own company and fosters a give-back sourcing philosophy in everything she does, but also supports the Northern California food innovation community by mentoring food and beverage startups. Chef GW Chew is committed to educating the local community about healthy eating and how our food is sourced through his local restaurant and kitchen, The Veg Hub. He is now expanding that mission with his Something Better Foods brand.”

Other pitch companies included Eat Makhana (grain-free popcorn alternative), Good Co-op (cannabis-infused bakery products), Raised Real (baby and toddler-ready meals subscription service), and Ugly Juice (cold-pressed fruit juice and fruit snacks).

“We are already planning next year’s event,” Buder said, “and we look forward to supporting the next wave of Bay Area food venture entrepreneurs.”

Naturally Bay Area, with over 300 members and growing, is the first regional affiliate of Naturally Boulder, which has been the catalyst for Colorado’s dynamic natural products community and companies for more than a decade. Naturally Boulder hosted 20 entrepreneurs and 600 audience members at its 14th annual Pitch Slam in October 2018, in Boulder, CO.

In addition to Pitch Slam, Naturally Bay Area offers education, networking, industry resources, and other special events such as Networking Nights and Education Series sessions for members. For information, visit

Naturally Bay Area Sponsors

Naturally Bay Area is proud to have Premier, Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze-level Sponsors. Premier Sponsors include Armanino LLP, Aspect Consumer Partners, BPM LLP, The Burbank Hafeli Schiller Group, Clif Bar, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Mista/Givaudan, Navitas Organics, New Hope Network, New Resource Bank, and Propeller Industries. For a complete list of Sponsors, visit here.

About Naturally Bay Area

As the first regional affiliate partner in a “hub and spoke” model with Naturally Boulder, Naturally Bay Area is a new 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization created to connect entrepreneurs, investors and innovators in the food and natural products community in Northern California. For member and sponsor information, contact


Vanessa Toy, Naturally Bay Area,

Steven Hoffman, Compass Natural,