Naturally Boulder Pitch Slam: New Natural Products Get Judged By Industry Legends.

Via on Oct 10, 2012

Always charming, funny, caring, frank. It’s Sylvia Tawse of #freshideasgroup emceeing #naturallyboulder #naturalproducts pitches with panel of living legend judges. #organic #organics #glutenfree #boulder http://instagr.am/p/QnNNmIx9wz/

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Warning: typos, some inaccuracies, and I’ll likely be missing some basic info—this is live-blogging! If you’re an entrepreneur or judge or audience member and you see something that should be fixed, just say so in comments. ~ ed.

One pet peeve you’ll see mentioned frequently below: we’re selling “natural” in plastic packaging, frequently, which leaches, is bad for health, never goes away, and is related to cancer, malformed development in children, and permanent landfills (in the ocean, too). Bad, bad. Naughty.

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Note: more photos coming when I have good wifi. Check back, I took a ton via @waylonlewis on Instagram.

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General comment: 100s of natural products types packed Rembrandt Yard today. It is elegant, great space. Great light. Enthusiastic crowd.

One thing I don’t love: plastic bottled water everywhere, including on the judges table. Why not pitcher and water and glasses? Plastic is hypocritical for this group at the epicenter and forefront of responsible business in the woooorrrrld.

So, the set up: new entrepreneurs pitch their ideas, or existing products in three minutes. Judges ask questions, then give thumbs up or down or neutral. Tons of prizes—$45,000 in value total—available to Pitch Slam victor via Natural Products Boulder community.

Sylvia Tawse, emcee: Fresh Ideas Group. Always charming.

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Judges: Joan Boykin, Paul Repetto, Justin Gold, Liz Myslik, Tom Spielberger:
experienced, veteran, legends, young (Justin)—a good mix and tons of success/experience, good mix of detail-oriented / practicality and marketing expertise, vision…judges talking over one another in the beginning, but natural given short time turnover of presentation.

How does Repetto decide who to support His gutcheck is: “If I had $1000 to invest in one of these companies, which one would I pick.” And, taste.

Justin: Innovation and quality are the two factors.

Tom: sustainable growth.

Joan: vetting, research, position, promises brand makes, tastes great.

Okay, the entrepreneurs, with thumbs up garnered:

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Five thumbs up

Impressive

1. Lovely Lady – beauty products: gluten free organic…nailed presentation, strong in social media all over it, all  plastic packaging, looks like…great distribution

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Five thumbs up

Healthy yummy for children

2: Veggie Go’s Fruit Strips: Compostable packaging now but going plastic due to feedback from WFM etc… already has funding first vegetable rollup, good differentiation, okay distribution they want shelf life to go from 5 months to one year

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Four Thumbs Up, one So-So

Raw desserts

3. Zaza: gluten-free dairy-free soy-free raw ingredients okay distribution lotsa plastic packaging high margins high cost

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Three Thumbs up, two So-So

LOOOVvvved this.

4. Jen’s Zen: I loved this. Coconut is a popular fad, shows no signs of slowing down? More varieties coming desert topping no dairy no gluten no soy dessert hot fudge sundae spread bagels cakes demos going great small distribution but growing organic no competition yet syrups are close to her product. One year shelf-life, she owns this category for now. Consumption lower marketing demoing pricing three ups two neutrals.

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Four neutral, one up

Natural alternative for quick dining.

5. Keen One Quinoa: quick cooking savory spicy quinoa, in Whole Foods, ethical direct trade sustainable farming new skus coming, plastic packaging

Would I buy it? No: competes against bulk, which is cheaper, probably healthier, no packaging.

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Three Up, One Down, One Neutral

Love it, love the marketing, followthrough, concern for environment.

6. Boulder Granola: family run, recipe dates back 45 years, organic, handcrafted, lower sugar content (maple syrup), fun marketing/packaging, young but good distribution, offers one of few vegan granolas (I buy it religiously), judges encouraging them to take investment, so far self-funded and growing “organically,” working on gluten-free, working on getting gmo certified.

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Three Thumbs up, Two Neutrals

Interesting, pricey.

7. Remeteas: more plastic packaging. Health-focused. Medicinal as in healthy. USA made which I love, farms. Organic. Drug-free remedies. Differentiated well but slow growth because it’s new.

Four up, one neutral

Healthy on the go, lots of plastic packaging.

8. solbites. Very few healthy snack items out there, so good opportunity. First company to even mention ongoing green-ish packaging so far. Differentiated but accessible, great combo. REI, Amazon, Pharmaca, UNFI, Whole Foods, Vitamin Cottages, good diverse distribution. Improved packaging look/design after criticism. Judges liked window in packaging. Price: $1.99 at Whole Foods, less at Vitamin Cottage (big surprise). Repetto on whether name is good or no?: “name is what you make of it.”

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Five Thumbs Up

Judges and everyone loooved this. Even as a lazy bachelor who spends too much on eco food, I didn’t get why I’d spend this much on prepared dressing.

9. Dressed Up Salad Dressing. “I’m on a mission to change the way you dress your salad!” Gimme a break. “What if I told you there was a better way.” Over the top preso, but good points: salad dressings are loaded with sugar etc. Three flavors designed by pro chefs. Enhance rather than mask salad. Whole Foods distribution. “This is the time we need your help.” Most pointed, pro presentation, converted me as she went…since Lovely Lady went at top of program. Nutrient dense dressing. $6.99 retail. Pricey, I’d rather buy olive oil/vinegar etc. First glass packaging. Pricey as f+ck—one dinner and it’s gone so competition would seem to be vinegar etc.

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Four down, one halfway.

Unique, new industry. What was I talking about?

10. Metamints. Track Record of founder…two successful business. Diabetic-safe, dentist-recommended which is cool. One of two styles is cannabis-infused (crowd freaked out, laughing, clapping…obvious marketing potential and downside, both). Looking to 500 Dispensaries in Colorado. Two separate industries: Justin says pick one and go for it.

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Four Neutral, One Up

Love these…are they organic? Chemicals aren’t raw.

11. Simply Dara Raw Balls. Cacao, Apricot Oat and something Chile. Everything’s raw, sounds like. “Clean, simple fuel for your body.” Great name standout. Packaging criticism. Compostable packaging is going away. Competition is sports bars, but she doesn’t sell by the ball yet, just in six packs and then bigger packs. Shelf life is somewhat limited. Differentiation–no competition yet.

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Four Up, One Neutral

Pricey, lots of packaging, yummy, great for vegans.

12. Zest Brands. Tons of plastic. Sylvia Wyant is partner. Almond flour…whole cakes and cookies that are good for you instead of bad. 80% almonds. High in good fat, protein, fiber, heart-healthy, gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, guilt-free. Very little sugar, agave. Vegan cookies. Cake slices and cookies are similar to power bars. Growing fast. Distribution is going great. Tons of plastic, pricey.

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Three up, Two Neutral

Awesome, should be organic, lots of plastic, great presentation!

13. Nude Food. (presented by our former intern, Dave): nutrient dense bars and Breakfast boost blend. GMO-free, simple ingredients, plastic packaging. Donating to underserved populations. Getting to Safeway, not just Whole Foods. Great name. Packaging design is weak–Myslik. Passion in product is awesome, not seeing it on the branding.

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Three up, Two Neutral

>> My Favorite yet? << First company to strike me as realllly caring about integrity, eco-responsibility, health first.

14. Naya Artisan Revival Skincare: beauty products. First truly-green packaging–glass, biodegradable paper labels, herbal, pressing oils, keeping bees, wants to expand educational component ” Still surprised at how many women don’t read labels.” Goal is not to be huge, but to be locally-sourced around US. “most unique social business model” ` Mslik. “You remind me of Anita Roddick, doing it here in US. Mass local.” Self-funded, still. Five years in business, two full time.

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Judges: Four neutral, one down.

Me: As a dog owner, love this—it’s a big industry. I’d buy.

15. The Bear and the Rat. “Cool treats for dogs.” Probiotic frozen yogurt for dogs, helps digestion, breath. Humangrade. No sugar. Three flavors. Take dog along on getting ice cream…so they developed something healthy. Sold in Whole Foods, speaking with Sprouts, King Soopers.

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Four Thumbs up, One Neutral.

Great presentation, love it, I eat it a ton, want bigger packaging.

16. Ave Agave! Healthy Jelly or fruit spread. 15 Whole Foods etc strong niche in market, agave. Lower calories. Good with yoghurt to sweeten but skip the added sugar in most yogurt. Glass. Tight margins. Comments: good packaging, design.

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Five thumbs up.

Obvious need.

17. Source Local Foods. Distribution company, trucking. Wants to be UNFI of Local Foods. Have experience in trucking. Deliver ingredients to every natural products company and restaurants. “Fabulous and needed idea. Necessary everywhere.” ~ Repetto.

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Three up, two neutral.

It’s sticky, yummy, healthy, nice packaging…I’d buy.

18. Bamboo Bundle. Asian healthy cooking mix with Western flavors make new and accessible. No GMOs (no arsenic in rice, which is nice). Quick n’easy to prepare. It’s sticky, apparently. Biodegradable bag/box. Frozen. Would be good in cafes etc as grab n’go, not just groceries. Justin says take over Boulder before moving beyond, make sure you have good customer traction and feedback.

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Walk-on round!

Five thumbs up!

Great idea—bringing co-officing to natural products industry.

Kitchen Coop. Food production facility, shared office environment. Watercooler conversations. Like a “Hub” or co-work space for food entrepreneurs. Pool resources (bookkeeping, accountings, labor, knowledge, experience). Justin: “Congrats. More than manufacturing.”

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Five thumbs up!

Delicious, eco, pricey, plastic packaging.

Oh Yes You Candy. Or Missy J’s Truffley Treats. Confused about which name is what. Pricey. Good for folks who don’t like/can’t have chocolate, but yummy for all. No dairy, wheat, gluten, no sugar…and it still tastes good! Coconut almond sea salt etc. “Carob’s making a comeback.” ~ Justin

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Three Thumbs up, two neutrals.

P’Stash: Pistachio Nut Packaging. Compostable.

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Three up, Two Neutral.

Fresh Times Eatery. Healthy restaurant, to-go grabbable food.

Sylvia’s trends: local sourcing and distribution, hyphen-free (what it doesn’t have in it).

 

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5 Responses to “Naturally Boulder Pitch Slam: New Natural Products Get Judged By Industry Legends.”

  1. Thanks for capturing all this Waylon!

  2. DaveTelf says:

    Who ended up winning the whole shebang?

  3. Lovely Lady Products says:

    Waylon,

    Thank you so much for the acknowledgement and please note that one of the ways we are contributing to a more sustainable way of life is that our products are free of water, which not only preserves our most precious resource, but also helps to keep the integrity of our planet. Keep an eye on us. We're a young company and are very passionate about the health of the environment and the wellbeing of our consumers (health issues due to gluten is what motivated me to join the industry and so how we move forward with the company is very personal). As the company grows, we will be exploring alternative ways to further reduce our environmental impact. Presently, our products are one of the cleanest lines in the market, and there are not many with this distinction. It was important for us to place the USDA Certification Seal on our body care line, instead of just marketing an organic ingredient in the product.

    Lovely Lady Products :-)

  4. elephantjournal says:

    Via FB:

    Hey Waylon – I recently read your take on the plastic quotient in regard to my company, Zest Brands, and our almond flour baked goods. For the Record – I wanted to let you know that it pains me to have to package our products in soooo much plastic. As a matter of fact I walked away from our first meeting with Whole Foods – as they pretty much said, you need to put these in plastic domes. And why
    ? Because the consumer pretty much demands it. If they can't see it, they don't buy it, especially when it comes to baked goods. Until we have a global shift in consumer behavior you are going to have lots of goods packaged in lots of plastic. At least it is recyclable, even though that also drives the price of the product up. Recyclable plastic is not cheap. Neither is food that is good for you and actually tastes fantastic – thus a product that is paleo. The cookies are vegan/paleo/GF. And as you stated – pricey. Such is life.
    Like ·

    Waylon Lewis Thanks, you, for your respectful comment. Respectful, caring criticism is one of the least fun things I get to do in my capacity as an elephant, but it's important and increasingly rare in today's "media" landscape, where media is synonymous with unedited PR/Marketing.

    Waylon Lewis For those wondering what Sylvia, a longtime colleague, is talking about: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/10/naturally-

  5. [...] night, I was at the always-awesome Naturally Boulder gathering in Boulder, Colorado. While I didn’t see a lot of our local legends, there, I did [...]

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