National Leaders Highlight Financing Conference
|Bill Weiland, Founder and CEO,
|Andrew S. Whitman, Managing Partner,
2X Consumer Products Growth Partner
FamilyFarmed is pleased to have Bill Weiland, founder and CEO of Presence Marketing, and Andrew S. Whitman, managing partner of 2X Consumer Products Growth Partners, to provide their perspectives as early investors in the Good Food space.
Under Bill Weiland’s leadership, Presence Marketing has become the leading independent natural food brokerage in America with more than 500 employees, representing many of the leading organic and natural food brands in America. Bill was named by Fortune Magazine as one of the Top 25 Most Influential Kingmakers in Consumer and Retail Companies. Bill and Presence have put many of the best organic food companies on the shelf and turned them into category leaders.
Andy Whitman in 2001 became one of the first Good Food venture capitalists in America. He left behind a career in product development and small brand development for big food companies such as General Foods and Kraft when he started Chicago-based 2X. He is now regarded as one the the most strategic investors in the Good Food industry.
Whitman will participate in what we expect will be one of the most talked-about panels at the Financing & Innovation Conference: Big Food’s Embrace of Good Food, on which he will be joined by Dave Donnan, partner and Global Food & Beverage lead for the A.T. Kearney consulting firm; Victor S. Friedberg, co-founder of the Seed to Growth (S2G) venture capital firm (which will also receive FamilyFarmed’s 2017 Good Food Business of the Year Award at the Conference); and Julie Smolyansky of Lifeway, the Chicago-based company that is the leading kefir producers in America.
Weiland, meanwhile, will participate on a panel on one of the most important and challenging aspects of the food business: getting products to market. He will be joined on the Innovation in Food Marketing, Sales and Distribution panel by Sean O’Scannlain, CEO of Fortune Fish & Gourmet, the largest independent food distributor in the Midwest; Kimberly Bentz, managing director of UNFI Next, which focuses on emerging brands, and Laura McCord, KeHe’s senior director of category management. UNFI is the largest and KeHE (based in Naperville, Illinois) is the second-largest among natural and organic food distributors in America.
CITY IN A FOOD GARDEN
Just as Chicago led the way in the industrialization of the U.S. food industry in the 19th and 20th centuries, it has become a national center for growth and innovation in Good Food markets during the 21st century.
The Urban Impact Investing and Community Revitalization panel will address one of the major assets of Good Food: its potential to stimulate economic growth, new jobs and opportunity in economically distressed urban communities.
This panel, moderated by FamilyFarmed President Jim Slama, will feature:
∙ Michael Bashaw, president of Whole Foods Market’s Midwest region and Co-Chair of the Financing Conference. He leads a region with 54 stores and more than 10,000 employees and was instrumental in the development of the Whole Foods store that opened in the Chicago South Side neighborhood of Englewood in 2016, as well as the Detroit store in 2014.
|Rachel Bernier-Green of ‘Laines Bake Shop|
∙ Rachel Bernier-Green of ‘Laine’s Bake Shop, located in Morgan Park on the South Side, whose products are carried in Whole Foods and Starbucks stores. Rachel is a graduate of FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Business Accelerator).
∙ Malini Ram Moraghan, principal of Drawing Board and a consultant to Kresge Foundation, which recently announced a $90 million initiative in six metropolitan areas, including Chicago, to promote equitable infrastructure investments
∙ Mark Thomann, co-founder of Spiral Sun Ventures, a new fund that is investing in a number of urban food enterprises.
Year-round production is at the forefront of the Good Food movement and Chicago is home to many national leaders that are producing food 52 weeks a year. The Thursday program features Producing Food Close to Home, a panel that includes Danny Murphy, vice president of the MightyVine indoor tomato-growing company; Viraj Puri, CEO of the rooftop-growing Gotham Greens company; Chris Wheat, chief sustainability officer for the City of Chicago, who led a successful effort to get a $1 million USDA grant to promote urban food production in Chicago; and Kelly Larsen, director of operations for the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Windy City Harvest program.
Meet Investor-Ready Entrepreneurs
The panel programming will bracket two annual features of the Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference that provide selected entrepreneurs to put their best foot forward.
Pitch It! Good Food Takes the Floor: Our annual business pitch session has a snappy new name! Fellows from the Good Food Business Accelerator and other Good Food entrepreneurs will present their businesses to prospective investors and stakeholders who can help them grow. This session will be moderated by Bram Bluestein, longtime management consultant and now a Good Food investor.
Good Food Financing Fair: The afternoon Financing Fair provides a dynamic environment where innovative farms and food businesses seeking capital can engage with funders, pitch their business plans, and forge new partnerships!
This day-long networking opportunity is capped by a Networking Reception where you will enjoy local food and craft beverages while engaging with funders, investors, entrepreneurs and other attendees.