Raising a round of funding is no easy task. There’s a lot to worry about and a lot to prepare for. Your pitch deck needs editing (again), there’s always one more networking event to attend, and you still need to prepare answers to tricky questions about your business.
You also need to land meetings with investors. The good news is that, attracted by big exits, corporate activity, and new brands, the number of investors backing food & beverage startups has tripled in four years. This includes a wide range of investors, including venture capital funds, private equity firms, corporations, and angel investors. The challenge is knowing what are they looking for in an investment. What can you do to maximize your visibility and desirability? Come for happy hour and learn from our panelists how to increase your chances of landing the next big deal!
Steve Gaither, Advisor, Spiral Sun Ventures. Steve Gaither is the founder of JB Chicago, an integrated marketing agency whose clients include DMI, Tetra Pak, and Hershey’s. A mentor at the Good Food Business Accelerator, ICNC and The Hatchery, his relationships with the financial sector led him to start Windy City Troublemakers, an early-stage food brands group in Chicago. Steve is also a partner at Windy City Food Brands, a food advisory and investment group, where he and his fellow CPG experts provide the operational know-how and go-to market strategies that help brands accelerate their growth.
Lenny Lebovich, Founder & CEO, PRE Brands. Lenny Lebovich is CEO and Founder of PRE Brands, a Chicago-based premium fresh food startup focused on bringing consumers the world’s best tasting beef. Launched at retail in early 2015, PRE is now the country’s #1 fastest growing consumer beef brand among brands selling greater than $1 million. Lenny’s professional experience spans food, healthcare, retail, telecom, technology, and finance. With more than 15 years of experience and a passion for bringing trust back into food, Lebovich drives the vision, mission, and strategy underlying PRE.
Michael Schopin, Partner, Zenfinity Capital LLC. Michael Schopin has been a principal investor for more than 15 years. During the last 13 years of his career, Michael has been leading private investment transactions on behalf of ultra-high net worth individuals and families where he has been instrumental in founding and growing three separate private investment efforts. Zenfinity Capital was founded by Kevin Easler, the co-founder of Sprouts Farmers Market, to identify, finance, and develop the growth of promising better for your businesses in retail, food and beverage. Michael has completed more than 40 private transactions during his career across a variety of industries.
Jason Starr, Managing Director, Company First. Jason Starr has over two decades of experience spanning operations, technology, venture capital, and private equity. Before founding CompanyFirst, Jason was the fund manager at CircleUp in San Francisco, through which he invested in dozens of consumer ventures. Prior to CircleUp, Jason spent over eight years at Winona Capital Management, a consumer-focused private equity firm in Chicago with over $300 million under management. Before Winona, Jason worked at venture capital firm Opus Capital in Silicon Valley and was a founder or early employee at several high-tech start-ups in Denver including BoldTech Systems, a “Deloitte Tech Fast 50” and “Inc. 500” company that was acquired by Perficient (NASDAQ PRFT). Prior to his entrepreneurial ventures, Jason spent over five years at Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) where he was a project manager and software engineer. Jason graduated from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business with an MBA and holds a BSBA and MAS from the University of Denver, where he was an alumni scholar and graduated summa cum laude.
Randy Bridgeman, Partner, Perkins Coie. In his counsel to public and private companies, Randy Bridgeman often serves as outside corporate counsel and deal steward, quarterbacking the deal process from pre-sale preparations through to closing and positioning clients for expansion, strategic partnerships and changes in ownership.
Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network
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