SKU, the nation's leading consumer-product accelerator, will celebrate the culmination of its Petcare and Women & BIPOC Track with a Pitch Showcase event for eight participating brands on Nov. 14 from 4:30-8:00 pm C.T. in Austin, TX. The two cohorts feature brands that make some of the most innovative products in SKU's history--from an at-home pet diagnostic to treats that relieve the symptoms of menopause.
"We are excited for the CPG community to see these exciting brands, who all bring something unique to their categories, whether it be delicious seedy crackers or high-quality embroidery featuring your pet," said SKU Executive Director Buff Greebe. "Join us to witness the passion of our amazing founders in the latest SKU track."
The SKU Showcase celebrates the culmination of the 12-week program, providing the opportunity for founders to present their pitches to an audience of CPG leaders from around the country. The event integrates a panel of investor judges who will each have $1M in "Monopoly Money" to invest in the companies.
The eight brands participating in the Fall '23 Tracks are:
- Petcare Track D.R.E.A.M. Pet Food (Dogs Rule Everything Around Me): Jaime Cooper and Paul Paige, who grew up loving hip-hop music, noticed there were no brands that represented the people and culture they grew up loving. Leveraging their experiences from the pet food industry, they created a pet treat line consisting of the finest ingredients.
- 5 Element Food Therapy: Founded by Sharon Tuggle, 5 Elements offers fresh whole food supplements to add protein, fat and mineral-rich organic vegetables to a pet's diet.
- Innovative Pet Lab: Founded by Robert David, Betsy Redmond and Jamie Smith, scientists with decades of experience in diagnostic testing, Innovative Pet Lab is transforming pet care with advanced home testing to identify current and underlying health issues.
- Pupsentials: Started by Kyn and Jake Chambers, Pupsentials creates hyper-detailed, custom pet embroidery apparel. Pupsentials wants to redefine what it means to be pet obsessed with a wide range of items--from hats to fanny packs.
- Women & BIPOC Track Blossom Essentials: Founded by Sarah Vilenskiy, Blossom Essentials creates clean, transformative and effective face and body products for severely dry and reactive skin.
- Neeshi: Founded by Gita Vellanki, Neeshi makes functional foods based on the principles of Ayurveda and natural food healing to ease heavy and painful periods and PMS.
- Phreshly: During the pandemic, Paul Owusu and Ama Marfo founded the premium canned cocktail brand using locally sourced ingredients and premium spirits inspired by West African flavors, and Southern cuisine and culture.
- The Humble Seed: The snack food brand was founded by CPG veterans, Sarah Meis, Steve Shaffer and Jennifer Mancuso, who worked together to create a healthier and tastier cracker. The Humble Seed combines six seedy superfoods--sunflower, chia, flax, sesame, pumpkin, and hemp--to make deliciously crisp crackers.
SKU was founded in Austin in 2011 as the nation's first accelerator with a consumer products focus and has produced a variety of interesting and successful brands, including Siete Foods, EPIC Provisions and Seaweed Bath Co. Of SKU's more 90 alumni, more than 90 percent are still in business today. SKU currently is recruiting brands and mentors for the Spring '24 Track, which kicks off in March. The track will be virtual, with in-person events at the launch and conclusion of the program. Brands can be from a wide range of categories, including food and beverage, apparel and beauty. Ideal candidates are market-validated companies with compelling founders and innovative products in hot categories. Interested brands can apply here. The application deadline is Nov. 19.
While SKU's curriculum is second to none, mentors like you are what sets it apart. Our mentors are top executives at iconic CPG brands, like Coca-Cola and General Mills, as well as successful founders, investors and subject-matter experts. All of you are united by your passion for coaching and advising high-growth, early-stage businesses to help them reach their potential and achieve a liquidity event.
"I have very much enjoyed my experience mentoring Innovative Pet Labs as part of the SKU accelerator program," said Petcare Mentor Carol Frank, a highly respected founder and investment banker in the pet industry. "Not only has Innovative Pet Labs team been eager and willing to take direction from a group of seasoned mentors, but I've also gained additional knowledge from experts in areas of business I wasn't as familiar with."