2019 Financing & Innovation Conference Schedule


Esca Bona Service Project at the Greater Chicago Food Depository

Esca Bona — New Hope Network’s thought leadership program and Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference sponsor — is producing a service project at the Greater Chicago Food Depository the day before the Conference. Volunteer for a food repacking event with other Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference attendees, and supporters such as KeHE, The Soulfull Project and B-Local Illinois!


8:00 a.m. – Registration with Coffee and Light Bites

Enjoy delicious breakfast treats from two Good Food Accelerator graduates: Field + Farmer will provide juices and bagels topped with their pink dip — with its emphasis on locally and sustainably produced ingredients — and avocado. Smoked salmon from Sitka Salmon Shares will also be served. Within Without will provide a parfait bar (that will include Within Without granola, yogurt and fruit).

8:30 a.m. – Morning Session

Chicago: A National Leader in the Natural Products Industry

Jim Slama — FamilyFarmed CEO/Founder and Co-Founder of Naturally Chicago — will welcome attendees and provide a concise overview of the landscape of the fast-growing Good Food and Natural Products Industry in the Chicago region. He will be joined on a panel by Chicago-based industry leaders, including Luke Saunders of Farmer’s Fridge; Kurt Seidensticker, founder and CEO of Vital Proteins; and Katlin Smith of Simple Mills; the panel is moderated by Jim Kirk, Publisher & Executive Editor of Crain’s Chicago Business.

● Jim Kirk, Publisher & Executive Editor, Crain’s Chicago Business (moderator)

● Luke Saunders, Founder and CEO, Farmer’s Fridge

● Kurt Seidensticker, Founder and CEO, Vital Proteins

● Jim Slama, Founder and CEO, FamilyFarmed & Good Food Accelerator; Co-Founder, Naturally Chicago

● Katlin Smith, Founder and CEO, Simple Mills

Keynote Speaker Seth Goldman

Seth Goldman is Executive Chair of Beyond Meat, whose plant-based burgers, sausages and other meat alternatives are transforming how people eat. Beyond Meat had a hugely successful IPO this spring. Goldman also is Founder/TeaEO Emeritus of Honest Tea, which he sold to Coca Cola.

● Seth Goldman, Executive Chair, Beyond Meat; Founder and Former TeaEO, Honest Tea

Investor Insights: Beyond Meat

Seth Goldman will be joined by a panel of early Beyond Meat investors, including Seed to Growth (S2G) Ventures and General Mills’ 301 Inc. — leaders in the Good Food investment sector. Carlotta Mast, Market Leader for New Hope Network and Senior Vice President of Content and Insights and its parent company Informa, will moderate the panel,
 which will focus on how venture capital partners helped the company scale up.

● Seth Goldman, Executive Chair, Beyond Meat; Founder and Former TeaEO, Honest Tea

● Carlotta Mast, Market Leader, New Hope Network and its and its Natural Products Expos West and East; Senior Vice President of Content and Insights, Informa (moderator)

● Cristina Rohr, Vice President, S2G Ventures (Seed 2 Growth)

Pete Speranza, Business Development Principal, General Mills’ 301 INC

Esca Bona Service Project: Making an Impact

Esca Bona, the thought leadership program of New Hope Network, will talk about the values of giving back and share details on service project they led at Chicago Greater Food Depository the day prior.

Andrew Lutsey, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, Greater Chicago Food Depository

Alex Manno, Customer Insights & Growth Solutions Analyst, KeHE Distributors

● Carlotta Mast, Market Leader, New Hope Network and its and its Natural Products Expos West and East; Senior Vice President of Content and Insights, Informa (moderator)


Big Food + Good Food: Building Strategic Partnerships

Many Big Food companies have developed strong innovation platforms to address consumer preferences for clean label and functional foods. We’ll hear from Brigette Wolf of Mondelez International, Katie Paul of KeHE Distributors, and Evan Hyman of Ingredion Incorporated. The panel will be moderated by Andrew Henkel of SPINS.

● Andrew Henkel, Senior Vice President of Brand Growth Solutions, SPINS (moderator)

● Evan Hyman, Director of Emerging Business, Ingredion Incorporated

● Katie Paul, Vice President of Category Managment & Growth Solutions, KeHE

Brigette Wolf, Head of SnackFutures Innovation, Mondelez International

Breakthrough Entrepreneurs Talk Innovation: Lessons Learned

This segment features a series of short talks by entrepreneurs who have steered their companies to robust growth. Dave Donnan, who will moderate this session, is Partner Emeritus and longtime Global Food & Beverage Lead for A.T. Kearney, and is a Board member for both FamilyFarmed and Naturally Chicago.

● Dave Donnan, Partner Emeritus and longtime Global Food & Beverage Lead, A.T. Kearney (moderator)

● Stephanie Morimoto, Owner and CEO, Asutra 

● Rahul Pasarnikar, Director of Business Development, Chicago CRED

Fireside Chat with Kimbal Musk and Dave Donnan

Dave Donnan will segue from the previous segment to hold an insightful chat with Kimbal Musk, the Co-Founder/Chairman of the local- and sustainable-focused Kitchen Restaurant Group. Big Green, his non-profit organization, builds outdoor Learning Garden classrooms in hundreds of underserved schools across America. Square Roots is his tech-enabled urban farming company that grows hyperlocal real food year-round.

● Dave Donnan, Partner Emeritus and longtime Global Food & Beverage Lead, A.T. Kearney

Kimbal Musk, Co-Founder and Chairman, The Kitchen Restaurant Group, Big Green and Square Roots

Jay Owen, Managing Partner, DOM Capital Group (introduces Kimbal Musk)

12:30 p.m. – Networking Lunch with Farmer’s Fridge and Jenny’s Tofu

Farmer’s Fridge and its innovative fresh-food vending machines dispense delicious salads, sandwiches and bowls made from sustainably produced ingredients. Founded just six years ago by Luke Saunders — now a Board member of both FamilyFarmed and Naturally Chicago — Farmer’s Fridge has enjoyed rapid growth fueled by an app-driven information system that earned the company a 2018 Chicago Innovation Award. Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt led Farmer’s Fridge’s $30 million investment round in 2018. Jenny’s Tofu, a rapidly growing producer of fresh and prepared tofu products owned by Good Food Accelerator graduate Jenny Yang, will also provide food for lunch.

12:45 p.m. – Breakout Lunch Session

Producer Financing – The Basics and Beyond, presented by Tera Johnson, director of the Food Finance Institute and founder of Tera’s Whey: Farming is both a way of life and a business. Now more than ever, it is the business side that needs to be working in order for the farm to work. Having a realistic budget used to be enough to both understand the financial side of the farm business and raise the needed operating capital from a lender. Now that farm businesses and the sources of money are more diverse, farmers find that just having a budget is only the beginning. This session is designed to familiarize new and entrepreneurial farmers with the money side of farming, both the basics of an effective enterprise budget and the next steps of building a profitable business model and sources of funding to help the farm grow.

1:30 p.m. – Naturally Chicago Good Food Pitch Slam, Co-Presented by the Good Food Accelerator 

The Pitch Slam showcases up-and-coming emerging brands and provides stakeholders a first look at the latest drivers in the Good Food Business sector. Winners will receive a cash and in-kind prize package valued at more than $100,000, including a complimentary booth at Natural Products Expo East 2020 and the opportunity to pitch at Expo East’s Pitch Slam!

This segment is presented by Good Food Accelerator@1871, one of the nation’s oldest and most successful training programs for early-stage entrepreneurs in the Natural Products Industry, and Naturally Chicago, a program officially launched in May and co-founded by FamilyFarmed, KeHE, Presence Marketing and SPINS. Naturally Chicago is promoting greater networking and collaboration in the city’s Good Food and Natural Products Industry through weekly, monthly and quarterly events, plus member recruitment and outreach.


● Shelby ParchmanGrowth & Advancement Strategist, Good Food Accelerator; Managing Partner, InUrban Strategies, LLC

3:00 p.m. — Good Food Accelerator Presents Bankable Trends with Presence Marketing

Presence Marketing, founded in 1990, was a pioneer in brokering Good Food and natural product brands when the market was much smaller. Attendees will be wowed by the Bankable Trends talk by Tracy Miedema, Vice President of Innovation and Brand Development at Presence, today the nation’s leading natural product broker. The presentation was developed by Bill Weiland, Presence CEO and founder, who has an inspiring record of trend-spotting in the industry for more than 30 years.

● Tracy Miedema, Vice President of Innovation and Brand Development, Presence Marketing

3:45 p.m. – Pitch Slam Awards Presentation


● Kim Feil, Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer, ASPIRE Healthy Energy Drinks

● Charlotte Flinn, President, Flinn Consultants; Chair, FamilyFarmed Board

● Anu Goel, President, Client Growth Solutions, SPINS

Jim Slama, Founder and CEO, FamilyFarmed and the Good Food Accelerator; Co-Founder, Naturally Chicago

4:00 p.m. – Financing Fair 

The Financing Fair is the longtime heart of the Financing & Innovation Conference! Entrepreneurs gain visibility and interact with prospective investors, funders, fellow entrepreneurs, service providers and other stakeholders. Funders, lenders, investment groups and service providers get a close-up look at Chicago’s hottest new brands.

5:00 p.m. – VIP Sponsor and Speaker Cocktail Hour

Private lounge / cocktail hour for sponsors and speakers to network and solidify relationships while enjoying craft beverages.

5:30 p.m. — Chefs For Change Fundraiser Reception (Separate Ticket Required)

The proceeds from this reception will help expand the reach and impact of FamilyFarmed’s dynamic programs, including Naturally Chicago and the Good Food Accelerator. Food will be provided by chef Chefs for Change co-chairs Carolina Diaz of Terzo Piano and Charlie McKenna of Lillie’s Q, plus Paul Fehribach of Big Jones,  Goat Group Catering by Stephanie Izard, Devon Quinn of Eden Restaurant and Jenny Yang of Jenny’s Tofu.

Successful Exits Panel

The highlight of the evening’s program will be a panel on Successful Exits. It will describe the experiences of founders of regional companies that have sold to larger entities. Panelists include Andrew Friedman, founder of SkinnyPop Popcorn; Tera Johnson, founder of Tera’s Whey; Matt Matros, founder of Protein Bar; and Scott Mandel, founder of Enjoy Life Foods.

Andrew Friedman, Managing Partner of Pin High Capital LLC; Founder of SkinnyPop Popcorn

● Tera Johnson, Director of Food Finance Institute; Founder of Wisconsin Specialty Protein/Tera’s Whey

Laird Koldyke, Managing Partner, Winona Capital (moderator)

● Scott Mandell, President of Cannabistry; Founder and former CEO of Enjoy Life Foods

● Matt Matros, Founder of Limitless; Founder and now Board Director of Protein Bar & Kitchen


Conference Supporters





Good Food Accelerator Lead Funders

Food & Beverage Partners

Media & Promotional Partners