The atmosphere in Grand Ballroom F exuded “friendly dolphin” more than “vicious shark” as 10 natural products founders vied for a prize that could change the course of their brands—and their lives.
Of the 10 competitors in Tuesday’s Natural Products Expo West Pitch Slam Semifinals, only five take the stage again today to pitch their hearts out at the live finals. One winner will receive over $35,000 in prizes and services from New Hope Network, including a booth at Expo West 2023.
A Natural Products Expo West tradition, Pitch Slam elevates mission-driven and innovative brands, connecting changemakers with the exposure and resources they need to take their companies to the next level. The semifinalists were selected based on video pitches judged by a panel of industry veterans. Each then received a mentor to help them refine their pitch.
On Tuesday, the entrepreneurs not only pitched in front of a live audience and possibly thousands watching online, they faced four judges sitting just feet away. Each semi-finalist pitched for 3 fast-paced minutes, then fielded judges’ questions for 4 more.
The all-women panel of judges consisted of industry veterans: Lindsey Wilson, business development manager at B Lab; Liz Myslik, partner at growth equity fund Loft Growth Partners; Nina Robinson, a portfolio manager at Runway; and Corinne Shindelar, principal and CEO of All Natural Strategies and founder of Independent Natural Foods Retailers Association.
The five finalists who will pitch Wednesday—again, live at the Marriot and livestreamed via NPEV—are listed below, with the consumer trends they fulfill.
Gustavo Nader, AMAZ
The brand’s line of sparkling yerba mate is fueled by adaptogens, Amazon superfoods and the founders’ passions for the Amazon rainforest. The organic sparkling teas are better-for-you energy drinks that help restore not just bodies, but ecosystems. AMAZ partners with leading nonprofits to source the regeneratively grown ingredients.
“Two percent of sales support seeding efforts within native forests in Brazil,” said Nader, who is Brazilian. Through the Xingu Seeds Network, indigenous forest caretakers collect tree seeds and redistribute them, replanting deforested areas and bringing new agroforestry technologies to areas in need.
Trends: Sugar vilified. Eat more plants. Mission-driven. Diversifying ownership. Clean label.