I hope you’ve used this weekend to rest up and get pumped and energized for Expo week. It happens twice a year, and there is nothing like it. It’s an amazing coming together of folks who are trying to do right by people, planet, and profit. This is the last year it will be held in Baltimore. Next year it will be in Philadelphia.
What I am about to share sounds like a shameless plug, but it is not intended as such. I am excited about the sessions in which I am participating this week. I believe the insights and information shared will be actionable and meaningful to those in attendance.
On Wednesday the 11th, I will be moderating and leading a panel discussion on the role of empathy in choosing the right channel for your brand. I’ve written about the power of empathy before. It is an essential arrow in a founder’s quiver. However, please don’t take my word for it. I will be joined on stage by some industry experts like Ryan Pintato-Vertner, Founder of Smoketown Strategy; Tapan Shah, Principal with Pepsico Ventures Group; Sara Tesoriero, Merchandising Manager with Barnes and Noble College and Susie Weintraub, CEO of Envision for Compass Group.
On the afternoon on Friday the 13th, I will be interviewing Jason Voorhees, who will be on stage wearing his famous hockey mask. Just kidding and sorry for the lame horror movie reference. I am going to be the master of ceremonies for a session titled “Meeting Consumers Where They Are.” With my penchant for being somewhat irreverent, it could be dangerous. Again, I’ll be in the company of industry experts including Andrea Donsky, Founder of Naturally Savvy Media; Ryan Mulvaney, Founder of Quiverr, and Danielle Vogel, Founder of Glen’s Garden Market. I will also be moderating a panel titled “Driving Discovery in Alternative Channels.” This panel will include Ana Yoo, Senior Food Category Manager at Thrive Market, Sam Elick, Founder of Brain Juice, and Elena Rosenblum, Accelerator Director of Union Kitchen. We will be talking about how placing product close to where the need is most acute or problem most pronounced can dramatically increase the chance of discovery and trial.
Lastly, I’ve had the honor of serving both on the selection committee and as a mentor for the pitch slam. It was brutal to whittle down a large and qualified applicant pool to 10 semi-finalists. The end result is an impressive list of brands. Make sure to come out and show your support.
1. Soñar Foods
3. Revolution Gelato
6. Mellow Rooster
7. REP Provisions
8. Atlantic Sea Farms
10. Renewal Mill
It is a busy week, for sure. I hope you can take the time to attend some of these sessions. Please remember that what makes the Natural Products Expo so special is the ecosystem it brings together. Your goal might be to meet new customers, grow your distribution, court investors. However, think about what you can offer, what you can give. As you reach for the next rung on the ladder with one hand, use the other to reach down and help pull the next person up. It is that exchange that makes this industry magical.