Join us in June for the 2nd event in our Founders Series - a new CFBN series presented in partnership with JB Chicago (A CA Fortune Company), Fifty Gazelles, and PreBrands. This 5-part series of events focuses on creating conversations and connections for founders’ from the growing and scaling companies of the Chicagoland start-up food scene. The Founders Series combines food, cutting edge conversation, and a bit of networking for a happy hour well spent.
Sales and distribution are starting to blur. The natural channel is lowering price and increasing selection, the conventional channel is placing natural products in-line, Amazon is acting like a retailer and retailers are acting like Amazon - and now you can get your product into QSRs, hotels and airports without the trade spend of retail! Learn how to shoot bullets instead of cannonballs by talking to the top folks in each channel and the pros and cons associated with each.
Our speakers & moderator for this conversation:
Steve Gaither (moderator), President of JB Chicago a C.A. Fortune Company
Steve Gaither is the president of JB Chicago, a division of C.A. Fortune. JB is an integrated marketing agency focused on CPG whose clients range from larger brands like Smithfield Foods and Tetrapak and emerging brands including Real Good Foods and Protes. As a mentor at the Good Food Business Accelerator, ICNC and The Hatchery, his relationships with the entrepreneurs led him to co-found the Windy City Troublemakers, an early-stage food brands group in Chicago. Steve was formerly a partner in Spiral Sun Ventures and Windy City Food Brands, where he and his fellow CPG experts provide the operational know-how and go-to market strategies that help brands accelerate their growth. Steve graduated from Ball State University (1994) with a degree in Architecture and Planning. He resides in Munster, Indiana with his wife and three children.
Josh Katt, CEO & Founder, Kitchfix
Josh Katt is the head chef and founder of Kitchfix, a Chicago meal delivery service and grocery company that focuses on locally-sourced, high-quality ingredients and gluten-, dairy- free options. While working as a personal chef for cancer survivors, Josh realized the incredible power of food as medicine. At Kitchfix, Josh aims to make this healthy, delicious food convenient and available to everyone by using whole, functional ingredients and leaving out unnecessary fillers.
Ali Shouman, Senior VP - Business Development & Retail Services, CA Fortune
Ali founded BUILD in 2013 after spending years in both big CPG and leading sales team for high growth brands. With the help of his co-founder (who also happens to be his brother), a vision for a national outsourced sales management team has grown into reality. BUILD is the top sales management agency for high growth brands who are looking to have all aspects of their sales eco-system managed by some of the best talent in the industry. While other groups offer a focus in HQ calls, insights, or even trade management, the BUILD team is best-in-class in all of the necessary sales management functions. In 2018, BUILD was acquired by CA Fortune, a national Sales Agency. Since acquisition, BUILD has positioned itself within the portfolio of services offered by CA Fortune as their go-to Sales Accelerator for any high growth brand seeking a high level of focus and expertise from an outsourced sales team. In Ali’s spare time, he loves to spend time with his five (YES FIVE!) kids. Other interests include mentoring food entrepreneurs through St. Thomas University in St. Paul, where Ali received his MBA, as well as attending as many sporting and music events for his kids as he possibly can.
Alex Marx, Director - Growth Solutions, KeHE Distributors
Alex is a Director on the Growth Solutions team at KeHE Distributors, where he develops retail category management solutions based on analytics, consumer insights, and category trends. Alex has been serving at KeHE for nine years and has held positions in Sales, eCommerce, Space Management, and Category Management. Alex has been specializing in the beverage category for years, although his expertise is all-things natural/specialty. Alex is also a proud two-time sofi™ award judge for the Specialty Food Association. Alex received his Bachelor of Business Administration in Food & Consumer Packaged Goods Marketing from Western Michigan University.
Joe D'Angelo, Director of Sales, Norman Distribution
Joe D'Angelo is the current Director of Sales at Norman Distribution. Prior to working with Norman, Joe worked many years in the consumer retail market for a prominent national retail chain. Although he excelled at his position and worked his way up to Regional Manager, Joe was looking for a career shift that complimented his passion and abilities. While searching for potential opportunities, Joe discovered a local distribution company located right in his home town of Elk Grove Village. After learning about the company from a friend and requesting an impromptu interview, both Joe and Norman's founder, knew a key role in sales was a perfect fit for Joe. Joe knew that the key to long-term success was learning the flow of operations, the interworking of each department, and how the company operated as a unit. From spending time with team members in every department, including working in the warehouse, going on routes with delivery drivers, and shadowing sales reps out in the field, Joe has experienced every aspect of the distribution landscape. Over the course of a couple years, Joe became the highest grossing sales rep at Norman Distribution. Currently, Joe is the Director of Sales at Norman Distribution and is managing Norman's entire sales team in Illinois/Vegas, manages relationships at all major chains, and executes corporate and store-level planograms with the sales reps. With his extensive book of business and key customer relationships, he is crucial to the successful launch of any new brand within the Chicago market.
Joy Tucci, Owner, DaCosta Global Inc.
Joy Tucci is the Owner of DaCosta Global, Inc. - a manufacturer's representative company specializing in helping clients grow their businesses on Amazon.com. DaCosta has been working with Amazon for 11 years - longer than just about anyone in the business, and knows how to get products listed, make them searchable, how to drive traffic to client’s pages and build client’s sales. At DaCosta, Joy has developed a broad array of proprietary reports and provides extensive data analysis. She works across a broad variety of categories at Amazon - including Consumer Electronics, Office Products, Baby, Home, Sports and others.
Networking nights with The Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network are an opportunity to access an inclusive network dedicated to bringing together all of the industry players of the greater Chicagoland area to develop meaningful and mutually beneficial business connections. The evening provides a great opportunity to enjoy drinks and appetizers and an opportunity to mingle - forging new connections and circling back with contacts from other events, all while experiencing the power of the CFBN network!
Happy Hour beverages and light refreshments will be provided.
The Founder's Series is presented in partnership with:
JB Chicago (A CA Fortune Company) is a Food & Beverage Industry Provider member of the network.
Pre Brands is a Cornerstone Food & Beverage Industry member of the network.
Fifty Gazelles is a Food & Beverage Industry Provider member of the network.
Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network
1 W Monroe Street
Chicago, IL 60603
Tel (312) 525-9653