SKU’s seven CPG startups will present virtual pitches to a national audience of CPG investors, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders.
For the startups going through SKU’s consumer products accelerator, Showcase Day represents the culmination of the rigorous 14-week program. During the celebratory event, the founders traditionally present their pitches to a room full of hundreds of investors, CPG executives, and entrepreneurs.
This year, as COVID-19 devastated the world, SKU pivoted midway through the program to a virtual format — moving everything from the classes to the mentor meetings online. In April, SKU hosted a virtual First Look Forum — a “dress rehearsal” for Showcase Day. SKU discovered during this challenging process that the virtual event was just as impactful for the founders — if not more so — than the live event.
Rather than hosting the traditional Showcase gathering — something impossible in the midst of this crisis — SKU produced a professional SKU Track 8 Showcase which will debut at 12 pm CST on May 27. It features the seven founder pitches, a look behind the scenes at their lives as well as a keynote speech from Austin jewelry entrepreneur Kendra Scott.
SKU, the nation’s first CPG accelerator, has produced a wide variety of interesting and successful brands, including Siete Foods, EPIC Provisions, Mosie Baby, and Austin Eastciders.
The SKU accelerator includes best-in-class programming led by industry experts, serial entrepreneurs, and investors. The companies are assigned a dedicated mentor team, which guides and advises them through the program.
Throughout the program, the brands hone their investor pitch, culminating in a showcase day at the end which attracts influential angel investors and venture capitalists from around the country.
The seven companies in SKU’s eighth cohort, chosen from more than 300 applicants from around the country, are:
Aura Bora is a sparkling water made with herbs, fruits, and flowers created by San Francisco founders Paul and Madeleine Voge. The products are made with real herbal extracts and delightful ingredients. Aura Bora’s five flavors — which include flavors as Lavender Cucumber, Lemongrass Coconut, Basil Berry, and Peppermint Watermelon — and it’s bright, colorful branding set it apart in the category.
Blenders & Bowls
Friends Erin Johnson and Kara Jordan started Blenders and Bowls as a healthy mobile food truck specializing in acai bowls. The company, which has grown into a chain of five acai cafes, is launching a line of scoopable frozen-fruit bowls, hoping to take their concept into freezers everywhere.
Brothers Francisco and Tomas Pergola created Cheddies to provide a healthy savory snack alternative. Cheddies is a high-protein, low-carb all-natural cheese chip whose main ingredient is real cheddar cheese, think healthy Cheez-it. A favorite of children and adults alike, these cheese crackers are hard to put down!
Founder Shannon Davenport — a former trend forecaster — wondered why body care took a back seat to cosmetics and skincare. Capitalizing on the self-care trend, Esker is a premium body-care brand dedicated to providing women with clean, high-performance products.
With strong backgrounds in nutrition and production, founders Sarah Lowell Rioux and Nicole Pinedo created a line of pre-made butter coffee bombs. While the current product line capitalizes on the Keto trend, Ladybird Provisions is positioned as a functional nutrition company with other product categories in development.
Mushroom Revival was founded by Alex Dorr after discovering the benefits of functional mushrooms to combat his Lyme disease symptoms. The company sells a variety of tinctures designed to improve people’s health through functional mushrooms.
Paleo Powder, founded by Dustin Gersch, provides a line of diet-specific (paleo/AIP/FODMAP) seasoning blends and coatings to help make cooking with dietary restrictions easier and more delicious.
SKU was founded in 2011 by lawyer Shari Wynne Ressler and serial entrepreneur Clayton Christopher, founder of Sweet Leaf Tea and Deep Eddy Vodka, with the mission of accelerating CPG brands in Austin. Since it was founded, close to 50 companies have completed the program.
SKU expanded into New York in fall 2019 with BeyondSKU, which is taking applications for its second track. ImpactSKU in Minneapolis — an accelerator for purpose-driven startups — will kick off in August with an 8-week Preview program.