SKU, an accelerator for consumer packaged goods (CPGs), has selected six companies for the second cohort of SKU Dallas. The startups represent a range of categories, including a cashew vegan queso, inventive mocktails and a subscription company that provides unique games for couples to connect.
The companies in the cohort were selected based on the innovation of their products, their traction in the market and the strength and coach-ability of their founders. All are later-stage startups with 2021 revenues ranging from $900K to more than $5 million.
“This cohort includes some of the most innovative brands in some of the hottest categories,” says SKU managing director Kirstin Ross. “These founders each have compelling stories behind their brands, and they all have such tremendous growth potential.”
Actor and CPG investor Patrick Schwarzenegger is the keynote speaker for the August 24 virtual kickoff. While he is primarily known as an actor, Schwarzenegger started his own CPG investment firm in 2019. The health and fitness enthusiast is involved with a wide variety of brands in the better-for-you space. He joined Justin Bieber, Usher and more celebrities in investing five million in Liquid IV, a wellness brand that makes hydration drink mix packets. One of his recent investments includes SKU Track 9 brand HA! Snacks.
SKU Dallas 2021 Participants
Bohana — Popped Water Lily Seed Snack
Bohana grew out of a strong friendship between Priyal Bhartiya and Nadine C. Habayeb as well as a love for health, wellness and snacking. On a trip to India, Priyal rediscovered a favorite childhood snack - popped water lily seed. Knowing how much Nadine loved popcorn, she brought back several bags for her to try. They discovered that they were much more nutritious and easier to digest. They decided to introduce the power of these mighty seeds to US consumers. Bohana was featured on Shark Tank last year.
Core & Rind — Cashew Cheesy Sauce
Founders Candi Haas and Rita Childers started selling healthier-for-you items at their local Farmers Market. Their customers loved their Cashew Cheesy Sauce so much they spent years perfecting a perfect a shelf-stable recipe to make the journey to healthy eating easier and tastier. The dairy-free plant-based sauces are clean label, paleo, vegan and keto friendly.
Crated with Love — Date Games Subscription Box
Tyler and Michelle Turk founded Crated with Love after seeing how important date night was to their own relationship. Their goal was to help couple connect more through laughter and play using Crated with Love’s date night products to help. Recent boxes include Summer of Love, Destination Space and Perfect Harmony. Not only do they create each theme, but do each date together, every single month.
Daily Crunch Snacks — Sprouted Nuts
Daily Crunch got its start 15 years ago when Diane Orley learned about the health and taste benefits of sprouted almonds from India. Inspired by these health benefits as well as the “sprouted-nut-crunch”, Diane began sprouting and dehydrating almonds. Her niece Laurel Orley - a healthy food lover herself - realized sprouted snacks were truly unique compared to snacks already on the market. Vegan, keto, paleo, and gluten-free, they want everyone to enjoy Daily Crunch Snacks!
Hella Cocktail — Bitters and Mixers
Hella Cocktail Co. is a mixology company that sits at the intersection between the better-for-you movement and the cocktail culture. The company’s goal is to create an all-natural cocktail experience to anyone along the continuum of adult drinking - booze optional. Hella Cocktail makes a full line of bitters, mixers and most recently launched a Bitters and Soda ready-to-drink line.
wildwonder — Gut-Health Drink with Prebiotics and Probiotics
While growing up, Rosa Li’s grandma brewed healing tonics that instilled in her the philosophy of food as medicine. Over 50 percent of consumers nowadays are drinking beverages to boost their health, but options like kombucha may be too vinegary for many people’s taste. Li decided to create low-sugar delicious beverages combining gut-healing superfoods and the Eastern herbal wisdom inspired by her heritage in whimsical flavors like Guava Rose, Peach Ginger and Turmeric Pea.
SKU Dallas founders will go through a 12-week program, which concludes with a showcase pitch event on November 16. The program offers programming that covers a wide range of topics of high importance to CPG entrepreneurs and taught by some of the nation’s industry experts.
One of the most valuable parts of SKU’s program are the mentors. Each founder is surrounded by a hand-picked team of mentors focused on helping them scale their business. The mentor community for this Dallas track is a who’s who in the CPG industry; including the entrepreneurs and top executives from some of the most successful consumer product companies such as PepsiCo, Amazon and Land ‘O Lakes.
Over the past two years, SKU has embarked on a national expansion. SKU Dallas is supported by DFW CPG, an organization cofounded in 2019 by Richard Riccardi and Rick Jordan to connect and build Metroplex-based food-and-beverage companies.