Founders of the six startup consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands who participated in the first cohort of the SKU DFW accelerator will celebrate the culmination of the program with a virtual pitch event on Tuesday, Nov. 17.
The SKU DFW Showcase will debut at 12 p.m. CST on Tuesday and will feature a video pitch presentation, followed by an opportunity for attendees to interact virtually with the founders. To RSVP for the inaugural SKU DFW Showcase event, interested CPG investors, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders should visit the website.
“We couldn’t have asked for a more passionate and creative group of founders and mentors for the first track of SKU DFW,” says Kirstin Ross, managing director of SKU, the nation’s first consumer product accelerator. “Over the course of two months, we saw companies rebrand, reposition and fine-tune their channel strategy.”
During the inaugural, eight-week SKU DFW program, founders participated in classes covering a wide range of topics invaluable to CPG entrepreneurs, including channel strategy, positioning and branding, packaging, labeling and safety, operations, and fundraising. Presenters during the program included top industry experts such as Walter Robb, former co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, Clayton Christopher, founder of Sweet Leaf Tea and Deep Eddy Vodka, and Marisa Bertha, who heads up business development at 7-Eleven and corporate venture capital for 7-Ventures.
Founders participating in DFW SKU were also assigned dedicated mentor teams made up of leaders from such companies as Frito-Lay, 7-Eleven and Amplify Snack Brands. All Y’alls Foods – a plant-based jerky company — had three mentors with jerky experience, while Meli’s Monster Cookies — a gluten-free cookie brand — benefited from a mentor who founded and sold a gluten-free cookie company.
“The knowledge and all the jewels shared are priceless,” says Tyla-Simone Crayton, the 17-year-old founder of Sienna Sauce. “I was a sponge absorbing all of the information shared by my mentors and all the amazing guest speakers. This has been a life-changing program for me as well as my team and I have developed relationships with my mentors that will last a lifetime.”
The SKU DFW program’s launch was supported by DFW CPG, an organization co-founded in 2019 by Richard Riccardi and Rick Jordan to connect and build Metroplex-based food-and-beverage companies.
The six companies that participated in SKU DFW are:
All Y’alls Foods
All Y’alls Foods was born from Brett Christoffel’s love of cows. After spending over 40 years consuming them, he realized he loved all animals — from dogs and cats to bovines — and decided to stop eating them. He decided to support this lifestyle change by launching All Y’alls Foods in May 2018. The first products are It’s Jerky Y’all and It’s Big Crunchy Bacony Bits Y’all. It’s Jerky Y’all is available in a traditional Black Pepper & Sea Salt, Prickly Pear Teriyaki and Prickly Pear Chipotle. Barely two years after launching, the product is available in retailers nationwide, including grocery stores like H-E-B and specialty natural foods stores as well as on Amazon and the company site.
Griffin and Shannon Ross grew up in a family of inventors. Their father, Gary Ross, invented the first travel mug with a drink-through top. Now Griffin and Shannon are creating a line of sustainable pet products that solve pain points for the modern dog parent. Their first product is the AutoDogMug, a one-handed, spill-proof hydration system that fits in a cup holder.
Meli’s Monster Cookies
While baking monster cookies, a family recipe passed down from generation to generation, it dawned on best friends Melissa Mehall and Melissa Blue that there was a market for these delicious gluten-free cookies. Meli’s Monster Cookies are higher in protein and fiber than your typical cookie on the market. While flour and sugar are the first two ingredients in most cookies, Meli’s first two ingredients are gluten-free rolled oats and nut butter. Meli’s are available at a range of retailers, including Walmart, H-E-B and Whole Foods.
mmmpanadas is the creation of husband-and-wife team Cody and Kristen Fields. Cody fell in love with empanadas while working in Costa Rica. Then, on a trip to Austin in 2006, Cody met Kristen and fell in love with her, too. Together, they began making a variety of empanadas for local bars and coffee shops. Soon they were slinging their gourmet empanadas out of a big red truck. Now they have 18 different sweet and savory flavors available in the freezer aisles of stores such as Whole Foods, Albertson’s and H-E-B.
Re:THINK Ice Cream
Re:THINK Ice Cream is the FIRST and ONLY collagen-infused lactose-free A2/A2 Dairy ice cream! Re:THINK is the indulgent ice cream that’s better-for-you, diabetic and keto-friendly, gluten-free with no sugar alcohol. Available in 12 flavors like Chocolate Majesty and Cardamom Pistachio, Re:THINK is infused with whey isolate protein and collagen and made with lactose-free A2/A2 Dairy for a happy tummy. The name Re:THINK was born out of founder George Haymaker’s addiction to pain pills and alcohol. In recovery, he was forced to rethink everything in his life and the brand was born.
When she was 8 years old — an age when most kids are playing with toys — Tyla-Simone Crayton was concocting a sauce for wings. The sauce officially launched in 2017, and the teenage CEO has become known as the “Sauce Boss.” The home-based business now sells three flavors: Tangy, Lemon Pepper, and Spicy. The brand, available in 70 stores and online, won “Best Sauce” in the 2018 and 2019 Sauce-A-Holic Fest, competing against 15 competitive brands. Tyla-Simone also won $25,000 in capital on “Good Morning America’s Side Hustle Showdown” series as well as another $10,000 from the Revolt Pitch. She was the runner-up in a $100,000 pitch competition hosted by the Grammy Award-winning rapper Chamillionaire.