Founders of the 12 startup brands participating in the Austin and Atlanta cohorts in the SKU (CPG) accelerator celebrated the culmination of the rigorous 12-week program with the premiere of their virtual pitches. The brands span multiple categories, including non-alcoholic cocktails, plant-based burgers, healthy snacks and beauty.
“Each of these companies is doing something truly disruptive in their category, whether it’s creating a prenatal bar to replace unpleasant vitamins or creating butters, flours and snacks from seeds,” said Emily Kealey, managing director, SKU. “We are so impressed with how far they’ve come during the program.”
During SKU’s program, founders participated in classes presented by some of the industry’s top experts invaluable to CPG entrepreneurs, including channel strategy, positioning and branding, packaging, labeling and safety, operations and fundraising.
One of the most valuable aspects of SKU’s program are the customized mentor teams that are hand-picked for each Founder’s unique needs and are focused on helping them scale their businesses. The mentor community is a who’s who in the CPG industry and includes successful entrepreneurs, investors as well as top executives from some of the most successful consumer product companies. This year, mentors included editors from three of the top CPG trade publications.
For the launch of the first cohort of SKU Atlanta, SKU is also partnering with Atlanta-based Goods & Services and Craft Catalyst, and Charlotte-based Silver Falcon Capital. The companies are providing access to their vast network and their experience working alongside CPG companies Coca-Cola North America’s New Revenue Streams division is a sponsor for SKU Atlanta.
“The Southeast has needed a leader like SKU to be a driving force in creating the ecosystem to provide support for emerging food and beverage players throughout the region, “ said Chris Olivier, a principal at Craft Catalyst. “The arrival of SKU has the potential to be a force multiplier in bringing the Southeast together.”
The six companies that participated in SKU Austin ‘22 are:
Happy Moose Juice: Happy Moose Juice, co-founded by Ryan Armistead, crafts premium juices and functional wellness shots from upcycled, heirloom produce sourced directly from the fields of independent, family farms.
Mesa de Vida : Founded by personal chef Kirsten Helle Sandoval, Mesa de Vida offers chef-crafted, multi-tasking meal starters and salt-free seasoning blends to easily transform simple ingredients into a healthy gourmet meal.
Raeka Beauty: Raeka Beauty was founded by Raeka Morar to bring New Generation Ayurvedic South Asian ingredients to the forefront. The company continues its mission of making Ayurveda-based beauty products more affordable and accessible through their efforts.
Realsy (Rollin' n Bowlin'): Founded by Austin Patry and Sophia Karbowski, Realsy just introduced the first and only shelf-stable whole Medjool date filled with nut butter on the market. With these healthy soy, dairy, gluten snacks are a part of their mission to make simple and nutritionally dense snacks that are focused on using real ingredients.
Tend Prenatal: Created by Behzad Varamini, Ph.D. and Hannah Varamini, the bars are made using 25 nutrients from fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, They are first real-food prenatal bar, provides an all-natural, delicious alternative to prenatal vitamins.
Yips Yogurt Chips: Co-founded by Erin Vranas - Head Yipster - Yips are the first chips made from real probiotic Greek yogurt, available in flavors like Almond Butter Banana and Superberry Chocolate.
The six companies that participated in SKU Atlanta ‘22 are:
Beyond The Equator: Founded by Kevin Bratcher and Andres Gandarillas, Beyond the Equator makes seeds butters, seed flours, and more from seeds like chia, pumpkin, hemp, sunflower, flax, watermelon, and cranberry.
Holmes Applesauce: At the age of 15, Ethan Holmes launched a company with his grandfather’s recipes to create all-natural, award-winning applesauces.
Mocktail Club: While Pauline Idogho was expecting, she found it difficult to find healthy and sophisticated non-alcoholic drinks options. Mocktail Club has created innovative, sophisticated and healthy ready-to-drink non-alcoholic cocktails.
NoBull Burger: Crissanne Raymond - known as the “veggieburger lady” - created the NoBull Burger recipe to feed her five kids a healthier. Run by the mother-daughter trio of Crissanne, Heather and Elizabeth Raymond, NoBull sells premium, hand-crafted veggie burgers made from real ingredients in five flavors,
Pulp Hot Sauce: Founded by Nicholas Gregory, Pulp is a gourmet small-batch fermented hot sauce. All sauces are raw, vegan, gluten-free, Probiotic and use Georgia grown peppers.
UP TO GOOD Energy: Founded by Lars Oltmanns, UP TO GOOD Energy uses upcycled cascara- the naturally caffeinated fruit of the coffee berry - to create a better-for-you energy beverage.
SKU was founded in Austin in 2011 and has grown into the nation’s premiere accelerator with a consumer products focus, SKU has produced a variety of interesting and successful brands, including Siete Foods, EPIC Provisions and Seaweed Bath Co. Of SKU’s more 100 alumni, more than 80 percent are still in business today.