Do you have what it takes to win the Expo West 2020 Pitch Slam? Sure, you might have an innovative natural products brand. But with a diverse group of expert panelists spanning the industry, it's tough to figure out those finer details that'll land you the Pitch Slam champ title—until now.
Here, four Expo West 2020 Pitch Slam expert panelists reveal what they'll be looking for in the winning brand.
Allison Ball: Founder, Allison Ball Consulting - Finals Expert Panelist
A Pitch Slam champ should be a brand that is innovative yet approachable. I'm looking for a brand that is forward-thinking and encourages its partners—be it wholesale accounts, brokers, distributors or investors—to rethink what is possible in a stagnant or non-existent category, yet at the same time is easily understood and loved by its target consumer. When that brand finishes its pitch, there shouldn't be any question in terms of what the product is, who it's for and why we should care about it.
Yoli Ouiya: Founder and Chief Eco Officer, Yoli's Green Living Group - Semifinals Expert Panelist
The journey and development process matter to me. I want to hear the story of how it came to be, the people behind it and the passion that drives the company's mission forward. In this world of consumerism, authenticity and connection is important. I'd like to see more of that and therefore will look for products that are not only good for consumers in terms of consumption and quality ingredients but also mission-driven and socially conscious, forward-thinking companies.
Eric Schnell: Founder, BeyondBrands - Finals Expert Panelist
A contagious passion for the business concept by founders, and a strong vision that can clearly excite and delight the broadest group of consumers are two of the top attributes I look for in selecting brands for the Pitch Slam prize.
While so many categories are hot right now, and it's easy to jump on a trend and package it a bit different than the next brand, it truly is the founder I would be backing as an investor or Pitch Slam judge, so I really try and look for who the person is inside as a leader and how much they know why their brand is needed in the world at this time. It's hard to find it often, but all the brands I have seen that successfully built themselves in the natural products industry over the last two decades most often have founders that share these traits in common.
Katie Paul: VP of Category Management and Growth Solutions, KeHE Distributors - Semifinals Expert Panelist
There are five main components that go into the way we think about brand innovation on KeHE’s Category Management and Growth Solutions team. Innovation is the component that is weighted the highest. Is the product capitalizing on an existing trend, starting a new trend or is it unique to the marketplace? Following innovation is ingredients. Is the product clean, functional or is it integrating new ingredients into a category? Salability: Does the product compete on price, have sellable and/or unique packaging and have the right people behind it? Our last component is whether it is purpose-driven. Is the product sustainable, recyclable, transparent and/or mission based?