The Spotlight February '22 - Startup CPG

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The Growing Trend of Non-Alcoholic Beverages




Freight Carriers + Brokers 101




Letter from the Editor

05 Meet the Startup CPGer Andy Kurtts 06 Editor’s Picks: Jenna’s Favorite Bites and Sips of the Quarter 08 The Return of Natural Products Expo West 10 Making the Most of Expo West 14 Expo West Brand Directory 16 Starryside: Helping Kids Think — And Drink — Outside the Box 20 Top Tips for In-Store Sampling 24 The Growing Trend of Non-Alcoholic Beverages 28 Finding the Right Merchandising Partner 30

Freight Carriers + Brokers 101

32 Community_Boston Feature: Superfrau 34 2

E-Commerce Financing



DEAR STARTUP CPG COMMUNITY, As we come off of the holiday rush, the CPG community nears a collective exhalation. But there is still one event holding our attention: Natural Products Expo West (affectionately known as Expo West). After two years of virtual experiences, Expo West 2022 creates a unique opportunity; it puts both major brands and our emerging community on the same playing field. We all find ourselves learning how to navigate trade shows in a world that looks much different than it did before. This edition of The Spotlight is dedicated to helping our community of emerging brands and industry partners navigate Expo West. We took time to speak to seasoned Expo veterans and the New Hope team to gather the best tips for making the most of your Expo experience, and created a brand directory so you can find fellow Startup CPGers at the show. Within these pages, you’ll also find insights on topics ranging from in-store sampling to the boom of the non-alcoholic segment. Startup CPG’s mission to uplift emerging CPG brands starts with empowering them with knowledge. We hope that you find something that speaks to you within the pages of this edition of The Spotlight – we have a feeling you will. See you at Expo West!

Jenna Movsowitz Editor, The Spotlight If there are any topics you’d like to see covered in a future edition of The Spotlight, please email If you are interested in becoming a partner of Startup CPG, please email

Jenna is the Editor of The Spotlight magazine and works on Startup CPG’s marketing team. She is passionate about emerging CPG, also working as a publicist for Knack PR and a freelance copywriter for several CPG brands.



THE SPOTLIGHT EDITORIAL TEAM Jenna Movsowitz Editor, The Spotlight Erin Fasano Managing Editor

CONTRIBUTORS Jessi Freitag Operations Consultant & Host of Startup CPG’s Podcast Lacey Gautier Vice President of Events at New Hope Network Pierre Jamet Chief Sales Officer at Petit Pot Kim Biddle Senior Manager of Digital Sales at Sow Good Seth Goldman Founder of Eat the Change Daniel Quinones Founder of Front Page Retail






ELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND IN 3 SENTENCES. T I led the in-house design department at The Fresh Market, a specialty grocery store, for 7 years. I left over 7 years ago to start my own studio, Buttermilk Creative, where we design branding, packaging and websites for specialty food & beverage brands. Having worked at a retailer gave me unique insights into grocery buyers and getting packaging and brands ready for the shelf.

2 3

HAT ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT (IN 5 WORDS OR FEWER)? W Beautiful effective design.

HAT’S BEEN THE MOST REWARDING PART OF BEING PART OF THE W STARTUP CPG COMMUNITY? Helping folks along the way. I’ve weighed in on websites concepts, packaging designs, etc. and hopefully were able to lend some expertise to folks who might not have had the budget to work with us. I try and think of the community as a safe place to freely share insights and advice.



5 6

CPG BRAND YOU EAT/DRINK EVERY DAY? A Tofurkey lunch “meats” - I make a sandwich just about everyday for lunch.

AVORITE PODCAST OR REGULAR CLUBHOUSE TO TUNE INTO? F My friend and fellow Startup CPGer Kirk Visola and I have our own weekly podcast focused on packaging design - called Kirk & Kurtts, which was actually spawned by our weekly clubhouse conversations.


EST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN IN THE CPG SPACE B To attend as many trade shows as you can!





Startup CPG brands' dedication to innovation, taste, and both human and planetary health has been incredible to witness, and only validates our core belief: that emerging CPG brands represent the future of food + beverage. While so many of our brands deserve a spot in your kitchen, these are a few worth checking out

Dripdash Dripdash is the first ready-to-drink Japanese style Kyoto drip coffee. In less non-coffeesnob terms, this means that it was brewed for 16 hours – quite literally one drop at a time. The resulting coffee is ridiculously smooth, balanced, and low-acid. Dripdash has three SKUs of their rich iced coffee: their traditional Kyoto, Oat Milk + Black Sesame, and Oat Milk, Maple + Lavender. My favorite of the bunch was the maple and lavender. Perfectly smooth and creamy oat milk, lightly sweet and warm maple, and floral and fruity lavender come together to make better-than-barista quality coffee in a can. Plus, Dripdash ethically sources their beans and roasts them in the world’s first zero-emissions commercial roaster in small batches.

Already Spaghetti If you’ve ever attempted to prep your own spaghetti squash at home, you understand the struggle. As delicious as the resulting product may be, spaghetti squash is on a mission to break your knife and also give you carpal tunnel, if not simultaneously. The labor expenditure never seems worth it, until you’re reminded of this miracle vegetable that genuinely mimics a top tier pasta shape. Already Spaghetti is a brilliant innovation that takes all of the labor out of the process for you, leaving you with an already spaghetti-ed squash – just the innards sans the seeds in a perfectly compact ring, and all you have to do is heat it through. Already Spaghetti is dedicated to reducing food waste by upcycling spaghetti squash that are typically tossed due to cosmetic scarring. The team even partners with non-profit organizations to provide nutritious spaghetti squash to food insecure areas.

Rooted Fare It’s not often that you come across a brand that completely shifts your standards for home cooking – but Rooted Fare did just that. Rooted Fare makes a variety of authentic Asian sauces that fully shapeshift any meal. Their Roasted Peanut Dan Dan Sauce, made with freshly roasted peanuts and spicy peppers sourced from Sichuan, is jam-packed with warm, spicy, slightly umami flavor that I now refuse to eat any vegetable without. They even bring sweet to the table, with a Black Sesame Crunchy Butter that adds a rich, nutty sweetness and perfect crumbcake-like crunch to anything from ice cream to oatmeal. Best of all, Rooted Fare’s products are all made by immigrant chefs who share profit with the brand – bringing an income and visibility to chefs who selflessly share their culture through ridiculously delicious food. That’s a win-win-win.


If you’d like to be considered for next quarter’s Editor’s Picks and other Startup CPG opportunities, be sure to fill out the Brand Intake Form!


MARCH 10th

Startup CPG is thrilled to host a celebration of our community in our first return to Anaheim since 2019. Please join us at Anaheim Bowlero for a fun-filled soiree and networking event, with an open bar and bowling from 7-9 PM!


41 lanes of blacklight bowling Open bar Pool tables Nachos. So many nachos. NielsenIQ station (brands can get data to make decisions & help their sales efforts!) Backpack Brands

We are excited to announce a dedicated area for "Backpack Brands" sponsored by Catapult Commercialization Services. This area will feature the brands too small to have a booth, but who are still attending the conference. The top-rated Backpack Brand will win a booth at Expo '23!



FEATURED GUESTS (more to be confirmed!) l Brandie Miller, Misfits Market l Chloe Sorvino, Forbes Magazine l Monica Watrous, Food Business News lJ ohn Craven and Ray Latif, BevNET / NOSH l Cameron Gould, Amazon Fresh l Kiva Dickinson, Selva Ventures l Jake Karls, Mid Day Squares l Genevieve Gilbreath, Springdale Ventures l Douglas Yu, Springdale Ventures / contributor l Max Baumann, Basemakers l Mike Dovbish, Nutrition Capital Network lC essna Mac, Amberstone Ventures l Steve Gaither, 1o8 l Cas Relucio, KeHE (Associate Category Manager) l Sara Cupelli, Spacestation CPG l Bjorn Oste, Good Idea, Oatly co-founder l Danielle Gould, Food+Tech Connect



Expo West By Erin Fasano, Managing Editor, Startup CPG


or so many in the Natural Products industry, the true start of the year is marked by a four day journey to Anaheim, California. Months of planning, preparations, coordinating, organizing, (spending!) later, thousands of founders, buyers, service providers, investors, and consumers flock to the biggest, baddest show of the year, Natural Products Expo – West, or as we call it, Expo West. But for all of us, COVID-19 cost us the opportunity to present our new innovations, meet retail buyers, talk to potential brokers and distributors, and we’ve spent


two years counting down to the moment that the in-person event finally returned. The day has come, and we couldn’t be more pumped. We asked Lacey Gautier, the Vice President of Events, Natural Products at Informa (the host of the show) to sit down with us and give us an insider’s guide to making the most out of the show.


In general, booth designs that are the most impactful, and cost effective for small brands, tend to be the simplest. Consider leveraging your own product


to make interesting displays or patterns within your booth, or utilize upcycled materials like your own cases or a pallets as tools to create a special environment in your booth. Especially for brands who might not have a deep understanding of how the show works, a simple design will allow you to focus on your brand, and let the work you put into your beautiful packaging shine. Inside your booth, you’ll of course want the basics: sales collateral, business cards, packaging examples, and price lists. But, the buyer audience consistently appreciates when everyone working in your booth knows the basics of the product’s distribution. Gautier says that buyers want anyone in the booth to have the knowledge to drive a great conversation – and if you’re concerned not everyone in your booth can do it, consider making your sales collateral a cheat sheet, with key distribution noted, how it turns, and other basics on your brand. She also recommends ensuring that your virtual booth is fully leveraged, particularly with video content that can teach about your brand. New Hope is going to do a ton of promotion of the virtual booths to all attendees, so don’t miss the opportunity to present your brand as best as you can. Sampling is a critical part of your booth experience, but with the pandemic still impacting daily life, many want to know how it will work. Generally, the guidelines will be very similar to Expo East. Open samples (prepared or cooked) must be under a sneeze guard or food cover, servers must wear a face mask and gloves, and all booths will need to have a handwashing station. Prepackaged samples may be distributed by a face masked and gloved booth attendee. Once your booth is set, your sampling plan is in the works, you can start planning how you can staff your booth. One 10x10 booth comes with 6 passes, and Gautier recommends using them all, if you can. Between staffing the booth, sample preparation, breaks, meetings, walking the show floor, and attending educational and networking sessions, it can be a tiring few days if you don’t have enough people to staff the booth. If you can’t send that many folks, have a schedule set so the team who is going knows where they should be and when. While in your booth, you can expect visitors from

a variety of communities. New Hope will return to physical printed badges with color coded designations to aid exhibitors in identifying who is at their booth. You may consider investing in a lead retrieval unit, to simplify tracking your visitors and managing follow up. In preparing for the show, you can see which retailers have confirmed attendance at this link. New Hope is seeing increased registrations week over week, and expects a strong contingency of retail buyers at the show.


Other than walking the show to see what other brands are showing, there are a lot of opportunities for learning and networking. Visit this link to find out more about the various Yoga and Musical events taking place. New Hope posted the Event at a Glance content, which outlines the various education sessions throughout the show. Plan ahead and ensure you can attend the sessions you think you’ll get the most out of. The networking events will be great opportunities to meet other brands and service providers, but potentially investors and retail buyers. There are new events this year, like the JEDI Community Happy Hour, the New Hope Community & Purpose Awards, and tried and true events like the Nexty Awards. If you have a NPEV Community All-Access Membership, New Hope has added a new VIP lounge for these brands.

This will give brands a place to meet and network, and can serve as a home base for your show operations. If you do not have a Virtual Booth, you can find various common spaces at the show by visiting the show map, and be very present at the networking and educational events, where a chance meeting could take place anytime! If you still have not secured a booth but think you might be interested, contact your representative to find out more. New Hope always sees some level of last minute registration, and there are still a limited number of booths available. The New Hope team is here to help you figure out the best solution for your brand – but don’t delay! The longer you wait, the less time you have to plan and prep your booth and sampling logistics. Additionally, if you aren’t able to make the commitment of a full booth, you can consider a table top opportunity at the Fresh Ideas Organic Marketplace – more info can come from your New Hope rep. Gautier encouraged the Startup CPG community to lean on their New Hope Account Rep to help with a wide range of needs, from show management, to operations, client services, and sales, they’re all there to help point you in the right direction and deliver a positive show experience for you. Are you interested in finding other Startup CPG brands at the show? Find our list in this issue and be sure to stop by and say hi!





or five days in the middle of March, CPG brands of every size come together under the same roof on the same mission: to share their newest innovations with the industry. With so many brands occupying the same space, each must learn to stand out amongst the noise. We spoke to Expo regulars Seth Goldman (Co-Founder and Chief Change Officer of Eat the Change) Pierre Jamet (Chief Sales Officer of Petit Pot) and Kim Biddle (Senior Manager of Digital Sales at Sow Good), as well as our partners at NielsenIQ Byzzer, to gather their best tips for making the most of Expo West:

UTILIZE THE ONLINE PORTAL Last year, we talked a lot about the NPEV, or Natural Products Expo Virtual, the online experience from New Hope that replaced the 2021 show. This year, brands who physically exhibit will again have access to it, and Jamet encourages leveraging it.


Because the online portal opens earlier than the show, Jamet suggetss that you use it to set your game plan. If your buyer confirms attendance on the portal, you can reach out to them in advance to confirm a meeting with them. You also should be able to see a press list – use this as an opportunity to get on reporters’ radar or invite them to meet your team. This gives you a great touchpoint with important contacts, and helps you fill your schedule. Be a lot more diligent in doing it in advance – you will be busy at the show, so come with your pre-work done.

PREP YOUR PITCH This one may sound like a no-brainer, but often falls to the wayside as you focus on other elements of your Expo preparation. When you spend so much time in the weeds of day-to-day business, it can be easy to lose sight of your communicable value. Prior to attending the conference, take the time to sit down with


someone from outside of your team and practice your pitches – keeping them to under 30 seconds.

buyer. A few things Jamet suggests you think about beyond your standard investor pitch:

FOR BUYER PITCHES: Goldman suggests you should be able to communicate in four words how your product is different. Buyers are interacting with so many different products on each Expo day that it can be difficult to remember the intricacies of each brand. Instead, have a simple, digestible takeaway for them to chew on (literally and figuratively). He uses “vegetable-based kid’s snack” as an example – a simple description that instantly communicates the product’s differentiation and target audience. Think critically about your four words. It’s now almost expected that brands are already meeting certain dietary standards. How does yours go above and beyond to differentiate within its category? To support your four words, have a few key pieces of data under your belt. Beyond the basics (your competitors, unit volume, price points), NielsenIQ notes that the category buyer is risk averse – so it is your job to show them that your product is a safe bet. When it comes to telling that story, consider sharing:

» I s your brand ready to overcome supply chain challeng-

»Y our product’s growth compared to the overall category »V elocity – particularly velocity growth. “Small brands tend to have a lower velocity than their category, especially when they are new to the marketplace,” the NielsenIQ team notes. “Fortunately, there’s a simple workaround: The Petit Pot team focus on growth. If your velocity is growing faster than the category’s velocity, citing this data can be a powerful way to strengthen your case for getting your product on a retailer’s shelf.” »Y our unique niche. Who are the profitable new customers that your product will attract to the buyer’s store?

You can find all of this data on your Byzzer portal, a free resource to Startup CPG brands thanks to our partnership with NielsenIQ. FOR INVESTOR PITCHES: For Jamet, Expo East was also a great opportunity to meet investors. Make sure your investor pitch is ready to go – what you will want to share with an investor will be slightly different than a

es? What successes can you share?

» I t’s been potentially two years since you were last showing – have a succinct few sentences that share what you’ve been up to. Make sure you’re covering the most important parts of your story, and talk to what’s coming up next.

MAKE MEANINGFUL CONNECTIONS While buyer relations are key, Jamet further emphasizes the importance of striking casual conversations with other brands to gather critical learnings. How are those in similar roles meeting the challenges you face? What can you learn from them that you can apply to your business? You certainly know your competitors, but you can take valuable learnings from out-of-category brands, too. Goldman believes that you should treat every visitor like your most important buyer – partly because they may be. Many badges do not actually communicate someone’s role, and oftentimes, important investors or buyers will actually have badges from another entity entirely. He suggests that you always have two people at your booth dedicated to selling, and that they are outgoing enough to step out into the aisle to engage with passersby. “This is the most effective demo you’ll ever do, so treat everybody like they count.” Goldman also reminds us that even if someone isn’t a buyer, anyone could be your consumer at a conference dedicated to natural foods. If you’re a brand launching at natural food stores, the seemingly insignificant interactions you have at Expo could bring a new loyal consumer.

BE A SPONGE This show is nothing if not a crash course in the industry. While you may be tempted to stay in your section and simply scout out your own competition, Goldman suggests that you take the time to roam the show purely as a sponge for innovation. “Even


All of our interviewees recommended that you opt in for the badge scanner to best manage your contacts. Rather than having to deal with a flurry of notes or sort through hundreds of pictures of business cards, the scanner will share badge data right to your email so you can import it later. But just keeping names is not enough to support a meaningful connection after the show. Goldman suggests that you come up with a coding strategy before the show, so you can quickly group new contacts after you scan them in (for example, A = buyer ready to purchase, B = needs samples, and so on). This will help you stay organized and manage your follow ups after the show.


Seth Goldman (second from left) and the Honest Tea team

though you may not be in personal care, for example, walk that section to get a sense of new ingredients people are using, new aromas or flavors, or even innovative packaging.” Encourage your team to do the same, and keep notes on trends you spot. When you return from Expo, use your notes to inform a team brainstorming session.

SAMPLE, SAMPLE, SAMPLE Sampling is a critical part of your booth experience; Goldman reminds us “one of the keys really is making sure people are able to taste your product.” While it may appear that some attendees are just there to grab a free snack, that in itself will benefit your brand. “You don’t go to this show with all these samples to bring them home; you’re there to promote the brand and in any form,” he says. Jamet notes that you may find some resistance to actually taking a sample of your product. This is where your brand’s expertise in press packages should come in handy after the show. Make sure you note which of your new contacts did not get a chance to try the product at the show, and prepare a press package to send them after the show concludes. Include a handwritten note that alludes to something you talked about.

HAVE A CONTACT-KEEPING SYSTEM Before considering how you will manage your contacts for the show, make sure that you cleaned up your CRMs from previous years or other shows. Kim Biddle, Senior Manager of Digital Sales at Sow Good, notes that people move around a lot in this industry, so it is important to scrub your CRM to keep it fresh, especially prior to an influx of new contacts.


While you may be eager to send your follow up immediately after meeting that important buyer or investor, Biddle suggests that you give people a week or so to recover from Expo prior to outreach. The show is exhausting – give people space to get caught up as needed. “The talking points in your follow up should thoughtfully reflect your discussion, share collateral on your product, and answer any outstanding questions.” If the contact did not have a chance to try your product on the spot, offer to send them a sample. Biddle also emphasizes that you should be providing value to the relationship, beyond trying to sell your product or service. You can start by keeping these new contacts in the loop, sharing any PR wins, data you’ve been collecting on your category, or marketing activations you may be doing. “I would also share anything with them from a networking standpoint that could be beneficial. Look to build a solid relationship, find some common ground. Network, connect and be a helper,” Biddle suggests.

STICK OUT AMONGST THE CROWD It may seem impossible to stick out amongst the thousands of booths at the show. But Goldman reminds us that there are always innovative ways to activate your brand if you’re willing to put forth the extra effort. At a past Expo, Goldman’s team at Honest Tea stood outside the show in the heat with cold bottles of product. As cabs passed stopped at a traffic light, they would offer the passengers and drivers samples to cool down. “We even asked the drivers if we could put an Honest Tea sticker on the back of their cars, so a bunch of cabs in Anaheim were driving around with our stickers.” This low-cost activation achieved greater brand awareness beyond the Convention Center bubble, and also gave Expo attendees a second touchpoint with the brand. Expo West 2022 is much more than just another trade show – it symbolizes an industry comeback. Whether this is your first Expo, or your 22nd (like Seth Goldman), we hope you come away from the show with formative connections, powerful new insights, and tummies full of the best new products.

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STARTUP CPG EXPO WEST BRAND BOOTH DIRECTORY Community is at the root of Startup CPG's mission. If you are attending this year's Expo West, we encourage you to take the time to support the Startup CPG community by visiting the booths of some of our phenomenal brands. We created this guide for you to use as a checklist. See how many Startup CPG brands you can spot as you roam through the show! We guarantee you will find a new product that you love – or at least connect with the inspiring human behind it

HALL B NATURAL & SPECIALTY FOODS/ORGANIC  12 Tides  Save Da Sea  Saint Benoit Creamery  Bailout  NONA Vegan

2113 1885 1571 1810 1890


2450 2899

HALL D LIFESTYLE/SUPPLEMENTS  Repurpose Compostables 3520


HALL E NATURAL & SPECIALTY FOODS  Petit Pot  Bellwether Farms  Deep Indian Kitchen  Belgian Boys  No Evil Foods  Creation Nation  Thunderbird Bar  Eclipse Foods  Three Trees  Upcycled Food

5187 4919 5462 5370 5715 5483 5659 5069 5357

Association  Green Girl Bakeshop  Chloe's  Yolélé  Quevos

#5384 5623 5062 5358 5751



NORTH HALL LEVEL 100 HOT PRODUCTS  CORE Foods  Moonshot  Simulate  Must Love  UNiTE Foods  Iamaranth  Sweet Nothings  Karma Nuts  Sweet Nothings  Simulate  Wize Tea  HumanCo  Fatso  Dirt Kitchen Snacks  P-nuff  Bundle x Joy  The Greater Knead  Seril's Chakka

N1123 N815 N 846 N644 N1102 N1227 N123 N148 N1227 N 846 N745 N835 N342 N1221 N1247 N617 N140

Chips / The C  Lil Bucks  Karma Nuts  incredible eats

N1261 N1252 N148 N142

ARENA NATURAL & SPECIALTY FOODS  African Dream Foods  Mighty Gum

 Amazi Foods N1716  Whoa Dough N2011  BodyBar Protein N1432  Smallhold N1443  4th & Heart N2141  Guud Muesli N229  Machu Picchu Energy N2048  Waka Coffee & Tea N1543  Taika N1900  Rollin' n Bowlin' N1612  Hop WTR N2334  ShelfLife N2038  Twrl Milk Tea N1717  ShelfLife N2038  Marimix Company, Inc. N1626  LivBar N2114  Mixly Cocktail Co N2215  Bon Devil N2301  Fila Manila Filipino American  M.A.D. Foods  Xicama  Saucy Gourmet *

N2019 N1533 N2043 N1625


 Sow Good, Inc  Freestyle

N1141 n/a

Discover More Startup CPG Brands at EXPO West * Startup CPG x New Hope's 2022 Booth Winner!



by Jenna Movsowitz






unctional beverages have been popping up for just about every target market: the stressed-out Silicon Valley techy, the zen yogi, the endurance athlete and the sleep-deprived college student. Yet Liz Seelye and Erin Fasano, two working moms, noticed that one core market has been left largely unaddressed: kids. Though the kids’ and shelf-stable juice category is worth $4.8 billion, innovation in this space hasn’t kept up with the speed of other beverage sub-categories. “The kids’ drink aisle still looks the same as it did 30 years ago – full of sugary juice boxes,” Seelye notes. This white space limits options for health-conscious parents and adventurous kids – and it represents a missed opportunity to address a much larger problem: “As we strive to make sure our kids stay imaginative, we’ve realized part of the ‘creativity crisis’ is old thinking in what they drink. Studies show that when kids are hydrated and healthy, it improves both their concentration and imagination.” Seelye and Fasano decided to put their decades of experience in CPG innovation together to co-found Starryside: the brand on a mission to help kids think – and drink – outside the box.

UNDERSTANDING THE NEED Seelye and Fasano knew early on what they wanted as the first line of their brand: an organic, fun-flavored, immunity-boosting beverage in some of the category’s only sustainable packaging. To further refine their climate-friendly concept, the team dug into their target market’s resistance to the existing kids’ juice aisle. “We conducted online surveys and talked to many parents about why they’ve left the kids’ juice category. We found that many are avoiding



sugar, juice, and the juice boxes and pouches that end up in landfills.” They discovered that parents wanted organic, bold flavors, natural sweeteners like monk fruit, and an easy source of vitamins and minerals to keep their little ones hydrated and healthy. While parents are the household purchasers, it is ultimately kids’ taste buds that determine a repurchase of a beverage. With seven kids between the two co-founders, the team tapped into their network of little ones to taste test everything they made. They also enlisted the help of a friend, fellow parent and former Ben & Jerry’s flavor guru to dream up the unique varieties: Beachy Peachy Strawberry, Magical Mango Pineapple, and Rockin’ Root Beer. The Starryside team relied on kids’ preferences to determine their packaging too. They were already committed to combating the climate crisis using only natural ingredients and 100% recyclable packaging, but additional insights led the way: “We learned that kids love feeling grown-up drinking from cans, but parents told us they never drink a full 12 ounces.” They interviewed pediatric dieticians who explained that kids should drink the number of eight-ounce cups of water equal to their age every day to stay fully hydrated. With this feedback, they searched high and low for the perfect eight-ounce can that would reduce waste, help parents track their child’s hydration, and fulfill kids’ dreams of clutching a fun can.

CONSTANT FEEDBACK + A LIVING MISSION In the past year of development, Seelye and Fasano moved quickly to create a minimum viable product that can “level up kids’ lunchboxes” – a large feat for two working parents. But the team knew they could not create in a silo; it was critical to get product in the hands of other families for their feedback and rapid iteration. “Every conversation about Starryside has led us to a new insight, a new relationship, or a new idea. Telling everyone around you about the idea helps it to grow, breathe and get better.” The co-founders believe that, above all else, their dedication to


constant feedback has led to their greatest learnings. A desire for innovation and early feedback fueled Starryside to go from idea to selling online, but it is their vision that continues to build their community and grow the brand. By involving kids in the process of creating the offering, and donating a portion of their sales to kid-founded businesses, they live out their mission to encourage kids’ creativity and imagination. And while some brands limit research to the product or market, Starryside also takes time to expand their knowledge base: “We share ideas from fellow entrepreneurs about what they do to stay innovative and help their kids stay inventive,” says Seelye. They also use feedback from families to inform and inspire goals and promotions. This spring, Starryside will ask kids to submit creative ideas to help the environment and award a few lucky winners with a Star Water stand to start their very own businesses, along with their own inflatable water slides – “It’ll be business in the front (yard), party in the back.”

LOOKING AHEAD To determine early success, Starryside will look to fellow parents and kids for feedback about both the Starryside brand and Star Water, officially launching during World Creativity Week on April 15th. They’ll also continue to innovate. “We have a pipeline of kid-inspired ideas from new flavors and functions to a complete line of Starryside snacks on the way.” Throughout the process, they will continue to keep kids involved. “Our little ones have a hand in everything from designing the packaging and selecting flavors to reinventing the lemonade stand and selecting songs for box-packing dance parties.” Seelye and Fasano see the brand as a way to combat the creativity and climate crises, and a celebration of teamwork and friendship their families share. “We like to say, ‘when you look on the sunny side, you see what’s positive. When you look on the Starryside, you see what’s possible.’ We are looking on the Starryside every day to see what this brand can be.”

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by Jenna Movsowitz

TOP TIPS FOR IN-STORE SAMPLING For the past two years, COVID-19 halted a grocery shopping favorite of consumers and brands alike: in-store sampling. This pause in oneto-one experiences significantly reduced opportunities for consumer feedback and trial – a frustration for established brands, but a potential growth stunt for emerging brands. Luckily, as restrictions now ease across the country, we will start to see a sampling comeback. I spoke with Daniel Quinones of Front Page Retail, a retail marketing solutions company, to learn his top tips for emerging brands to make the most of their return to, or perhaps first-ever, in-store demos 20

YOUR BRAND AMBASSADOR IS EVERYTHING At an in-store demo, it all starts with the individual you bring on board as your brand ambassador. “This person should be quick to share information and get people to listen to it,” says Quinones. Brands often make the mistake of having people in stores who fear approaching consumers. While Quinones says it is true that consumers typically don’t like to be sold, “they are craving information.” Within 10 seconds, the brand ambassador must be able to communicate the most critical information to the consumer – a message that will translate into sales for your product or brand.

ASK A QUESTION THAT LEAVES THEM THINKING “The most successful demos we have worked on are the ones where we ask consumers a question that will leave them thinking,” Quinones notes. Any product should be able to come up with a question that communicates what is the most unique attribute of the product against what is already in the market. This instills a sense of intrigue, but more importantly, leaves the shopper feeling that they cannot miss out on this unique opportunity. For example, when the Front Page team was sampling Craize corn crackers, the

brand ambassadors would stop shoppers to ask: “have you ever tried a corn cracker before?” This simple question instantly communicates the products USP, and gives the consumer a reason to pause and think. In that time, the brand ambassador would feed additional details. “Once they are there, it’s very rare they will walk out without trying your product.”


CHECK THE BOXES UPFRONT While eight in ten consumers now report being willing to participate in one-to-one in-store experiences (Winsight), today’s consumer has expectations that need to be met upfront. “You have to check more boxes than ever as a product,”

says Quinones. “If you don’t meet their criteria on product claims – non-GMO, gluten-free, vegan, low-to-no sugar, etc. – they will be fine walking away from anything free.” In the Craize example, the brand ambassador would use the time after the pause-worthy question to highlight that this product was not only unique, but also vegan, gluten free, non-

GMO, and had 4g of sugar for 9 crackers. Brands may fear that this quick drop of information can feel salesy; in reality, it demonstrates the brand’s consideration for the consumer upfront. The shopper should never have to inquire about these baseline attributes – they should feel that the brand cares about their dietary restrictions or preferences.






“Your merchandising partners (or internal merchandising team) should be taking care of the follow-through needed for stores to order enough product to sell during the demos, any potential secondary display opportunities and ensure sale tags are placed if your product is on promo during that period,” says Quinones. Regardless of who is in-store for the sampling opportunity, your merchandising partners will be the ones building trust from associates in stores with your brand. This sampling opportunity is not a one-off experience, but another key touchpoint with your store partners that can build upon your existing relationship. “With so many supply chain challenges these days, clear and constant communication with stores is key – leadership in stores need to know that your brand is supporting them when they need it the most. They don’t want to associate your brand with the ones that they see or hear from only once or when it is convenient for them.”

TIME YOUR DEMOS TO CREATE A BRAND OCCASION While there is no across-the-board “right” time to demo, Quinones believes that the brand can use demoing as an opportunity to demonstrate an occasion for your product. For example, if your product is a kid’s snack, the end of summer is an important time to showcase that your product will fit seamlessly into the shopper’s new back-to-school routine. Quinones suggests starting demos at least one week prior to the occasion’s peak, while the occasion is already top-of-mind, but before routines have been set in stone. If your product doesn’t have an immediately obvious occasion, demos can be an opportunity to create one. Your fruit-flavored sparkling water, for example, is probably perfect as a non-alcoholic option for summer gatherings. Time your sampling a week prior to Memorial Day to communicate this use-case without having to explicitly state it.

ASK OPEN QUESTIONS Of course, the most important takeaway from in-store sampling is consumer feedback. Once the shopper is sampling the product, your brand ambassador can take a back seat. Rather than continuing to tout brand attributes, use this time to ask open questions. “Avoid answering for consumers, but provide a bit of guidance with open questions if they are hesitant to share openly,” Quinones says. He also notes that this is an opportunity to give the consumer a sense of meaningful contribution or impact: “Let them know that any feedback is good feedback, and be transparent with how the brand will use that information.”

BE ON THE SAME TEAM AS THE STORE While you may be eager to bring all feedback to your team, remember to also share your experience with the store that afforded you the opportunity. Quinones suggests that your brand ambassador go back to their store buyers to let them know about performance, clever feedback from consumers, and how it compares to other store’s performance in the region. “If you don’t let stores know how the demos went, how do you expect them to show up for you when you really need their support?”

DETERMINE WHAT SUCCESS LOOKS LIKE FOR YOUR BRAND’S DEMO Recent research from Advantage Customer Experience concludes: “The chance for consumers to try before they buy remains a powerful influencer on the decision to make a purchase, with nearly 9 in 10 (87%) saying if they enjoy a sample, they’re likely to buy the product during that store visit. Nearly as many (78%) say they’re likely to buy the product during a later visit to the store, and 6 in 10 (58%) are likely to pick up the product at another store” (Winsight). While this data powerfully indicates the potential for increased sales, there are a variety of KPIs for demos,

and they all depend on the goals and scale of the brand. “Some brands focus on trial and awareness, others really need the sales, some need consumer feedback to proof a new line, some need to show support to the retailer to nourish the relationship with the buyer,” Quinones notes. “All of them are valid. But ultimately, focus on the consumer. If you do, not only will your relationship with the buyer or account improve, but so will your sales. You will get new consumers to try your product, and connect with the ones who already support you.”

TAP INTO YOUR EXISTING FAN BASE While demos are a great time to attract new customers, Quinones notes that very few brands fully take advantage of the opportunity by letting their existing fan base take part. “Definitely let your current customers know what the goal of these demos are – for example, giving out samples of your newest flavor – and invite them to stores.” At the end of the day, everybody wants to be invited to the party. An invitation to meet the brand they’ve been supporting from afar, or have early access to a new flavor or SKU, will create a sense of community and help consumers feel that they are a part of the brand’s journey. Further, existing fans are the most likely to buy your product once they are in front of the table, which will create intrigue for passersby. A crowd around your table encourages other consumers to get closer or be open to listen to what is happening. “FOMO (or fear of missing out) is a real thing, and it works magic in retail.” And thanks to the human desire to be seen as a source of recommendation, your existing fans may even offer testimonials to the newcomers on the scene. With the return of in-store sampling, brands have a new opportunity to reach consumers, improve relations with existing fans and store partners, and increase sales or awareness. Quinones hopes that, with the right preparation and mindset going into an in-store demo, emerging brands will quickly catch up on the missed opportunities from the past two years.



by Jenna Movsowitz

THE GROWING TREND OF NON-ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES A segment deep-dive featuring NielsenIQ + Byzzer data




or many, the start of the new year comes with a new challenge. From no sugar and Whole30, to the rogue YouTuber fitness challenge, consumers are leaning into the “new year, new me” mindset more and more each year. In recent years, a new challenge came onto the scene: Dry January. Dry January is a phenomenon that began in 2012 as an initiative by Alcohol Change UK, a British charity, to “ditch the hangover, reduce the waistline and save some serious money by giving up alcohol for 31 days.” Since then, Dry January has become popularized as one of the many habit-shifting challenges to hit the restart button on our lives. As we reflect on the past two months, we notice this trend expanding beyond the confines of the calendar – and not just impacting our hangover status, but altering our industry in a major way. As part of Startup CPG’s partnership with Nielsen IQ, we dove into the numbers behind the non-alcoholic trend and the potential challenges and opportunities they may present for emerging brands in the category. All of the data presented in this article was sourced from NielsenIQ.

DRY JANUARY 2022 AND ITS CONTINUED IMPACT This year, Dry January continued to attract new participants – around 20% of US adults reported participating in Dry January in 2022. While January typically sees sales lower off for both total alcohol and non-alcohol after a beverage-filled holiday season, we still see a heightened share for non-alcoholic products in January. For January 2021, non-alc was around 0.4% of total alc, while in January 2022, non-alc was 0.5% of total alc.



For non-alcoholic brands, Dry January can be seen as much more than just an opportunity for increased sales. Ryan Haggerty, Brand Manager at the non-alcoholic beer brand HOP WTR, describes Dry January as “a tent pole moment for the HOP WTR brand.” He notes that the Dry January movement is not only an opportunity to bring new consumers into the brand, but also to deepen relationships and reinvigorate enthusiasm with existing HOP WTR loyalists. “We don't see this trend slowing down as the sober-curious movement continues to gain more and more widespread adoption.” Haggerty’s observation is demonstrated by industry-level expansion; in the past few years, the “non-alcoholic” segment has grown immensely. What once was a category reserved for the one-off non-alcoholic beer brand, now includes a breadth of beverage – from non-alcoholic wine and proxies to non-alcoholic spirits and aperitifs. The increased variety in this segment can also be seen in the impressive degree of innovation occurring within it. In the traditional alcoholic beverage segment, innovation contributed only 4% of the total alcoholic beverage sales; comparatively, innovation accounted for over 15% of the non-alc sales off-premise. And with increased innovation came increased consumption: non-alc/low-alc off-premise sales in 2021 reached an astounding $3.3 billion. While we may be inclined to attribute the 19% uptick in non-alc sales in January 2022 (and 6.7% drop in total alcohol sales) solely to the Dry January movement, consumer data also supports Haggerty’s observation of widespread sober-curiosity. NielsenIQ notes that 78% of non-alcoholic beer, wine and spirits buyers are simultaneously purchasing alcoholic beer, wine and spirits – indicating that general alcohol moderation may be a bigger factor at play than a confined month of full sobriety.

THE OPPORTUNITY As consumers continue to seek out the newest non-alcoholic innovations, manufacturers are working to keep up with their pace. Manufacturers are continuously looking to successfully launch in this space, seen in a fifteen-fold increase in non-alc concepts tested by BASES from 2020 to 2021. When it comes to investment dollars from a channel perspective, NielsenIQ points out that there are fewer barriers to entry for non-alcoholic brands, who have experienced successful launches in the ecommerce space and Amazon – avoiding the restrictions of traditional alcohol channels. Haggerty reports that HOP WTR has seen strong success in both DTC as well as retail – a statement unlikely to be professed by an alcohol brand. Retail has demonstrated interest in the category, with new shelf space dedicated to the segment: “Our product has been well-received by retailers who see it as a new and exciting innovation,” says Andreas Duess of Boreal Botanical, a brewed botanical tonic. Further retail opportunities have been presented by the emergence of segment-specific retailers, like Boisson and Minus Moonshine in New York.


POTENTIAL CHALLENGES While validation from manufacturers and retailers looks promising, successfully launching in this space presents unique challenges. Many customers are entering the non-alc segment for the first time, making liquid testing especially important to ensure expectations are exceeded – so curious testers become repeat buyers. “The largest challenge for brands in this segment is, put simply, quality,” says Duess. “Alcohol is a very efficient flavor carrier and creates a unique mouthfeel that is hard to recreate.” He notes that while some brands are using capsicum to simulate the alcohol “burn” and some use hops to inject flavor into non-alcoholic beers, others are looking to offer completely unique options to consumers: “At Boreal, we use tannins from grape skins to create a mouthfeel that sets us apart from others.” This uniqueness may set them apart on the shelf, but also requires an extra dose of consumer education. It is on the brands to not only communicate the taste that can be expected (will it mimic alcohol’s sensory experience, or simply its flavor?) but also successfully communicate the use case of these products. “Clearly communicating what consumers can expect via packaging is key to boosting trial in an emerging space. Consider eye-catching colors, a buzz-worthy name or a unique packaging format,” the NielsenIQ team suggests. Another challenge comes with the rise of “functional” beverages. The line between distinct alcohol alternatives and other potential alcohol substitutes, like hemp-infused drinks (ex. Bimble and Aplos) and adaptogenics (ex. Boreal Botanical and BodyIntelligence), has begun to blur. This allows for a greater opportunity for innovation, but also comes with greater consumer and retailer expectations. Consumers and buyers look to these products to meet the needs of both the alcoholic beverage category and the traditional beverage category: low-to-no sugar, plant-based, unique flavors, sustainability, and function. Meeting all of these criteria is of course a challenge at the product level, but can also present a marketing challenge. Non-alcoholic brands must work harder to determine and communicate their specific USP (unique selling proposition) and ensure that it doesn’t get lost in a slew of callouts.

DEFINING THE CONSUMER For emerging brands in this space, it is critical to keep an open mind when it comes to defining the target consumer. Non-alcoholic brands continue to be surprised by the consumers who end up purchasing their product. “We thought our target customer would be mostly urban, but we've been surprised by how much love we're getting from rural, and even remote communities,” says Duess of Boreal Botanicals. “Our chaga is incredibly popular in Northern Quebec, where people are familiar with the tradition of consuming


this adaptogenic ingredient. The more mainstream flavors, like our Lion's Mane with sumac and juniper, do really well in urban centers like New York.” Haggerty also reported being surprised by HOP WTR’s consumers: “We initially figured that we would skew slightly more male and have a higher percentage of folks who abstain from drinking alcohol entirely. In reality, our current consumer base skews slightly female, and many have young kids at home,” he says. Like many non-alcoholic brands, HOP WTR discovered that consumers’ interest in health and wellness may be a larger indicator of purchase than interest in alcohol substitution. “Our consumer is extremely wellness-focused: nearly 1/3 exercise daily and the majority of them actively seek out functional supplements to support their lifestyle. We actually slightly under-index on the percentage of those who don't drink alcohol at all relative to the broader US population.”

LOOKING AHEAD While the “dry” movement may be seen as a passing trend, segment data demonstrates otherwise. In fact, the segment is predicted to grow as the trend of continuous alcohol moderation overtakes the month-long challenge. As the segment continues to grow, peak sales are anticipated to follow the trends with that of full-proof categories and experience similar shifts in seasonality. “Brands in the space should consider aligning launch 1-2 months prior to peak distribution of the full-proof category,” says the NielsenIQ team. The Startup CPG team is excited to watch emerging brands continue to take over this growing space. If you would like to explore your own segment’s data, check out NielsenIQ’s Byzzer platform in partnership with Startup CPG.



by Jenna Movsowitz



Aura Bora x Dynamic Merchandising at Trax Retail Aura Bora entered the crowded sparkling water category in January 2020 with a major point of differentiation: the most wild and whimsical flavors on the market. Bored with the standard few fruity flavors found in big-name sparkling waters, Aura Bora decided to introduce new fruits, herbs and flowers to the category. “We wanted to take flavors you may recognize from other mediums of your life, like a lavender or basil, and bring them to the tired sparkling water category,” says founder Paul Voge. With a vision and an at-home carbonator in San Francisco, Paul and his wife Maddie began experimenting with herbs, fruits, and flowers to concoct unique sparkling waters. Their resulting zero-sugar, zero-calorie liquid separates itself from the category with



funky flavors and bold branding. The team was also passionate about keeping the cans under $2, so those with fancy taste buds can still enjoy Aura Bora on a budget. To kick off their retail strategy, Aura Bora decided to aim for natural retailers that would have the consumer who is already familiar with these unique herbal ingredients. In their first year, they got on shelves at a handful of independent natural grocers. Though their price point could allow for expansion into traditional grocers, the team prioritized getting into these smaller stores prior to expanding their retail strategy to include national channels. “We saw these initial markets as an opportunity to gather data and learnings. This data would be essential to secure bigger retailers like Whole Foods, Metropolitan Market, Fresh Thyme and Erewhon as second movers.” After a few months of successful launches in independent grocers, by the third quarter of 2020, Aura Bora got a yes from a major natural channel: Fresh Thyme Market. As a natural store, they anticipated doing well there – but this would also be their first time selling in the Midwest. “When going into a new region or channel, it is critical that your first store is an A+. Your success in your first placement in a new region will determine your opportunities at future retailers in the region. Buyers are looking to your region-specific consumer data to ensure that you will be a safe bet in their store,” says Paul. And Fresh Thyme had a catch: they would be the first retailer taking only two of Aura Bora’s five SKUs. Fresh Thyme is known to have a large, competitive beverage set, typically taking no more than three SKUs of any brand -Coke and Pepsi included. To Paul, this indicated that the Fresh Thyme buyer values variety over brand affinity: a shopper strategy that was new to Aura Bora. Historically, Aura Bora would have five to ten facings and be noticed for their branding, bright colors and fun flavors. “With only two SKUs, I feared that we could get lost in a crowded fridge. I immediately knew that we needed a great partner to help us stand out on the shelves, keep us in stock, and make sure we were top of mind for buyers and store employees,” Paul says. When Aura Bora was launching in California, the Aura Bora team members were the ones merchandising local shelves and speaking with managers and buyers. With a Midwest expansion, however, they needed local representatives to do the merchandising work on their behalf. “When you have a very important regional retailer away from your home market, you need to succeed. But there aren’t many options that can adequately merchandise your product. Your merchandising partner needs to already have relationships with store managers, to know the shelves, to know when the planograms are coming out – and we found that with Dynamic Merchandising at Trax Retail.” – now known as Dynamic Merchandising by Trax Retail – came highly recommended to Paul and his team. They were Aura Bora’s boots-on-the-ground representatives who ensured regional success. The Dynamic Merchandising reps acted as core Aura Bora brand ambassadors, handing out free product to managers, cashiers and buyers in the stores to keep the product top of mind. They placed IRCs (on-pack coupons) to draw attention and inspire trial, replenished inventory from store back-stock, and maintained brand visibility in the crowded beverage set.

Tina Adolfsson, VP of Marketing at Trax, points to nationwide field reps, timely data, and a focus on delivering on each brand’s retail-specific priorities for their reputation as a growth partner in retail merchandising. “We break down the priorities of a brand, and serve the information real-time via mobile app to our reps. All in-store actions are based on prior data and experience,” says Tina. Trax measures facings, assortment, inventory, placement on the planogram, the manager we connected with in-store, and any comments or advice they offer. Dynamic Merchandising offers speed and scale for new product launches, plus store-level data to continue improving retail performance and expansion. They offer two-fold data: game-plan data – or shelf-level, endcap and secondary location data – and scorecard data, which is traditional data based on cash register receipts, sales and market share. In combination, the Trax team was able to understand the context and indications of corrections or improvements for Aura Bora’s success in Fresh Thyme. Within just three waves of placement, Trax was able to apply 2000 IRCs in 90% of the Fresh Thyme stores, and identified the ones that were already selling through. For the growing ready-to-drink waters category, it is essential to have a merchandising team that can stay up-to-speed. With the help of’s Trax, Aura Bora is one of the fastest-growing sparkling water brands on the market. Dynamic Merchandising at Trax Retail is a proud sponsor of Startup CPG. To learn more about partnering with Startup CPG, please contact




STARTUP CPG’S FREIGHT DATABASE By Jessi Freitag, the Startup CPG Podcast host

FREIGHT IN CPG Port delays, truck driver shortages, rising freight costs, and the increasing complexity of getting even one pallet across the country (or even a state), can easily erode CPG brands’ precious time. UNFI needs your shipment early? Your raw materials are sitting on a dock somewhere? LTL, FTL, BOL, lumpers, reefers - it’s a whole separate world to navigate. And options do not make it easier. As of February 2021, the US Department of Transportation reported 996,894 for-hire carriers, 813,440 private carriers, and 83,235 other interstate motor carriers. How do you choose a partner who will have your back and make sure your shipments get to the destination on time and intact? Startup CPG has curated the first list of freight carriers and brokers just for CPG companies (created & crowdsourced by Startup CPG members).

BROKERS VS CARRIERS What’s the difference between freight brokers and carriers? Freight carriers own the actual trucks and physically transport your goods. Freight brokers act as intermediaries between brands and carriers for a small additional percentage. They have established relationships with carriers and look across multiple options to then contract your load. Ideally, a broker takes the pressure off a brand to follow up on all the pieces of a shipment and take care of any issues that arise. Wesley J Urquhart, CSO of SUNTECKtts, shares about some of the benefits that brokers can provide: ​​”Brokers are able to provide unique capacity and solutions for a CPG company. Often they have varied needs with shipping being a very big part of their costs as well as important to getting their product moving. Brokers are able to anticipate their real needs and provide shipping services that actually work.”


Types of Freight Services Shipping ice cream? Have a container at a port that needs to be moved? Trying to ship something across the ocean or the border to Canada? It can be tough to find a freight partner that covers all the services you need. Some of the most common freight services are listed below and are noted in the database based on available information for each carrier and broker. l LTL (Less than truckload) usually six pallets or less transported on a truck shared with other companies’ shipments. l FTL (Full truck load) usually 10 pallets or more or when you need a dedicated truck. l Intermodal most often refers to shipping by rail, but involves transporting freight via multiple modes l Temperature Controlled unless otherwise specified, most freight is considered “dry” meaning it is in an enclosed trailer but there is no temperature control so the temperature during transit can vary greatly. For refrigerated and frozen goods, trailers called “reefers” are used to maintain the correct temperature for perishable goods through setting specific temperatures for the trailer, goods placement within the trailer, and/or more/less packing materials. l Expedited you need something moved faster than standard transit times? Some carriers can accommodate expedited services. l White Glove / Last Mile You need your goods to end up in a specific room at a location? Or packaging removed upon arrival? Some carriers can provide these extra services for a fee. l D rayage Drayage usually refers to moving a shipping container a short distance to or from a port. l International Some carriers can accommodate international air or ocean shipping and navigate cross-border transport to Canada or Mexico.


CHOOSING A FREIGHT PARTNER So how do you choose a partner or partners from all of these options? Here are some of the top things to consider: 1. Do you want to choose carriers yourself and manage or do you want to lean on a broker to help manage freight logistics? If you are an established brand or have deep freight knowledge, you may be able to go direct with your favorite carriers. For most small brands, a broker can take the pressure off you to manage it all. 2. Who will your account representative be? Your level of service is strongly tied to the representative(s) assigned to your account. Do they seem easy to work with? Are they easy to reach anytime? Do they take the initiative to handle issues? Ideally, you want to find a long-term partner who is an extension of your own team. 3. What are starting credit terms? Some firms have really generous starting credit terms and others require pre-payment on loads for newer businesses, so finding a firm that works best for your cash flow is important. 4. Does the broker or carrier have a self-service portal/TMS (transportation management system)? Do you like to book shipments via phone or email or would you rather log-in yourself, input the details, and book instantly? Many carriers and brokers now have self-service options (noted in the database based on available information). 5. Do you need refrigerated or frozen services? We recommend finding a carrier or broker who specializes in temperature controlled needs. 6. What are your most common route needs? If you ship primarily along the west coast, find a partner who specializes in that area. If you ship cross-border frequently, find a firm that specializes in those international regulations. You may end up with a partner for each coast or a partner just for local routes.

Tips for Shipping Freight It can be daunting booking a freight shipment, especially when using a self-service portal or form and answering all the questions. Here are a few tips for a successful freight shipment: 1. Calculate the weight and dimensions of the shipment to the best of your ability. If you do not know the exact weight, do not round up! An exact shipment (such as 1,000 pounds) will often be flagged for a re-weigh which can result in additional charges. Online tools like this one can be helpful in mapping out pallet specifications. 2. Use the correct freight classification. Using the wrong freight classification can result in additional charges. There are multiple online calculators (like this one) you can use and double check with your account representative. 3. Make sure there is a BOL and that all the right people have it. BOL stands for Bill of Lading and is the most important document pertaining to your shipment. Most carriers and brokers will generate a BOL for you. Some warehouses like to receive a copy of the BOL in advance for their documentation. Sometimes a BOL is not generated and it is okay to create your own using a template (like this one). 4. Get all the details. Are there special dock hours? Is a lift gate needed at the origin or destination (meaning there is no shipping dock and the truck needs a gate that can move the pallet to the ground on its own). Are the goods stackable? If not, it’s best to label that they cannot be stacked. 5. Document everything. Get a damaged shipment? The destination reports not receiving the whole load? Make sure you get pictures and save all your documentation as backup. 6. Educate yourself. There are many great lists of freight terms (like this one) to help you navigate all your freight conversations. And learning about current transit times on sites like this can help you plan your business more proactively.









Superfrau is innovating a sparkling functional beverage made with fresh upcycled whey, that tastes amazing, is loaded with health benefits, AND helps save our planet. Yeah whey! The brand vibe and personality hopes to connect with Gen-Z and young millennial consumers who care about what they put in their body and their impact on the environment. Superfrau is on a mission to empower consumers to fight food waste and climate change with its line of delicious, nutritious upcycled drinks made from fresh whey. Though you may be familiar with whey protein powder, this whey is different. Superfrau uses the liquid strained during yogurt and cheese fermentation that often goes to waste – but is packed with nutrients and protein. Superfrau rescues this whey, infuses it with natural fruit flavors, and upcycles it into a delicious fizzy beverage that's naturally loaded with functional benefits for your body and mind. Founder Melissa Martinelli is passionate about sustainability and personal wellness, and is thrilled to present a beverage that supports gut health, packs in vitamins and electrolytes, and even provides an energy boost. Superfrau is Upcycled Certified and hopes to inspire other brands to reduce their food waste by sourcing upcycled ingredients. Melissa is a proud member of Startup CPG and the Boston community channel! Meet Melissa and other passionate CPG founders at your next Startup CPG community meet-up event.



E-commerce FINANCING

How to make Parker’s versatile card options work for your business



Parker is a proud partner of Startup CPG


etting the right funding for an e-commerce business is important. You might be launching a new business altogether or looking for ways to grow and expand the one you’ve got; regardless, the need for capital is essential. Depending on where you are in the growth and development of your e-commerce brand, capital makes an impact in numerous ways. Here are just some of the most common expenses business owners find themselves looking to cover:

l INVENTORY – from securing goods to storing them, your inventory needs to take up a good amount of money. l OPERATIONAL EXPENSES – whether you’re a solo or looking to expand, having the necessary capital helps you get closer to building out the support team you need. l MARKETING – from paid advertising to working with influencers, it’s a good idea to dedicate some of your budgets to marketing, even if it’s a small amount to start.

of available funding when your payback will be tied to daily revenue withholding. With Parker, your payback will be tied only to your spending + your terms, not your revenue l Finance corporations are hesitant to work with e-commerce businesses. New and growing e-commerce brands face a conundrum when trying to obtain financing – they don’t usually have the operational history or credit score that most financial institutions want to see when securing capital, which makes it harder for brands to get the funding they need to grow.

PARKER’S SOLUTION FOR SECURING E-COMMERCE FINANCING Founded by experienced business owners Yacine Sibous and Milan Ray, Parker was created as a financial solution with e-commerce brands in mind. Parker’s founders both experienced the frustration and limitations of getting the funding they needed to grow and expand operations, so they knew creating a solution that worked for e-commerce business owners – and the unique obstacles they face -- was key. What is Parker?

Financing an e-commerce business can look different from one brand to the next and what works for some might not be the best option for you. Another point to consider? As you move through various stages of your business, you’ll find that the need for funding changes depending on your growth and goals. So, how does an e-commerce business get the capital needed to take a brand to the next level? Well, it can be a struggle for many. Here are just some of the obstacles e-commerce business owners find they need to overcome:

Parker is a digital financial solutions platform designed to help e-commerce business owners fund and manage finances in an efficient and user-friendly destination. In addition to providing necessary funding to businesses that need or want it, Parker also supplies owners with beneficial tools that monitor key metrics, cover expenses, and track profitability as the brand grows.

l Fees take up a huge chunk of revenue. In some cases, annual percentage rates (APR) hit nearly 45 percent. For new and growing businesses, these costly fees soak up much of the revenue needed to expand and grow the brand. l Daily revenue withholding makes it hard to plan for the future. When you need access to funds throughout the month, it’s hard to take advantage

So how does Parker stack up with other financial institutions? In addition to being a zero-interest or fees funding option (owners can choose between extended/flexible term or cashback, whichever is preferred), Parker offers the following benefits:


l Credit limits of up to 100% of your monthly sales l Underwriting that is focused on busi-

ness performance, not ONLY your cash balance l No vendor locking l Unlimited virtual cards Another way Parker offers versatility to business owners is through the different card options to choose from. Prefer more time to pay back each transaction? There’s a card for that. Want more cashback with spending? Parker has that, too. Interested in what Parker has to offer? Take a look here to see which terms fit your needs best:

l Standard 30-day (1.5% cashback) – 1.5% cashback on all spending. l Net 30-day card (1% cashback) – This card doubles the credit duration compared to cards like American Express or BREX cards while offering 1% cashback on all spending. l Net 60-day card – This card is the best option for extending payment terms. Unlike big bank financial institutions, Parker knows how essential it is for e-commerce business owners to have access to spending limits. For that reason, the rolling terms on the different cards are varied to meet the needs of owners. Ready to focus on the financial health of your e-commerce business? Parker’s funding solutions meet brand owners where they are (and help propel them toward profitability) while also streamlining the process to make it easier and more flexible. See if you qualify for Parker by visiting our website. This sponsored article is part of Parker's Startup CPG partnership. To learn more about our partnership offerings, please contact





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