Mentors Matter
MENTORS

Mentors Matter

How “local” can a Whole Foods Market buy?
What are Kroger’s purchasing priorities?
What’s the best way to approach a buyer in my category?
What kind of promotions does Wegmans expect?
Should I approach Costco and the club channel?
How do I adapt my supply chain to accommodate my new e-commerce plans?
What food safety plans should I have in place?

FMI Emerge has answers! We’ve gathered industry experts providing invaluable advice to your growth journey. Mentors leverage their networks, providing exclusive opportunities leading to more shelf space for your brand.

70+ FMI Emerge Community Network

Greg Arz

Natural Foods Broker

Helps brands understand the organic and natural food service channel, and the role of a food service broker.

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Greg Arz
Natural Foods Broker
Food & Beverage Sales & Marketing Professional; Branded, Commodity, and private label Food Industry: Brand Development Food Export: Business Development Natural Foods Industry: Sales, Marketing & Sales Management Specialties: Brand Development, Sales, Marketing, Consultant Food Industry

Jim Badalati

Customer Development Executive

Offers executive level expertise in broker and sales management, along with distribution advisement.

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Jim Badalati
Customer Development Executive
Jim Badalati shares his expertise on broker and sales management with the Emerge community. He has years of of experience gaining initial distribution and optimizing current distribution practices. Jim is the Senior Vice President of Customer Development at Crossmark, and has expertise in nearly every category.

Allison Ball

New Product Discovery Expert

Advises small brands on developing their pitch to retail buyers, and scaling production.

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Allison Ball
New Product Discovery Expert
Allison Ball, a former Grocery Buyer & Head of Grocery at Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco, now consults with CPG clients on the behind-the-scenes of wholesale & retail. Her clients range from small vendors launching their first product, to entrepreneurs opening their first market, to well-established retail stores and nationally known food producers. She concentrates on supporting sustainable, community-focused businesses, promoting unique, delicious products, and coaching small business owners on developing strong management teams, creating effective operational systems, and building strong business models.

Susan Barnhardt

Go-to-Market Strategist

Helps brands develop successful, meaningful, and impactful retailer partnerships.

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Susan Barnhardt
Go-to-Market Strategist
My first experience taking an emerging brand to market was introducing L'EGGS pantyhose to retail. It was exciting to be part of the team that launched an iconic brand! That experience provided me with a strong foundation to work with many CPG brands, including The Campbell Soup Company, Arla Foods USA, Kraft/Heinz, Pepsico, Johnson & Johnson, King's Hawaiian, Corona, to understand and execute successful go-to -market strategies from ideation to execution. Success comes from being passionate about our story; who we are and what we stand for; and how does that make us different and desirable. It is important to establish strong distribution channels and have the supply chain to meet the demand. I have a strong belief in the power of partnerships with our retailers. After all, Retailers build brands and it is up to us to work hand in hand with them to create demand by engaging their customers through education; events; and investment in their plan for success. My mantra has always been GETTING ON SHELF is the STARTING LINE and we must work passionately and continuously to maintain that placement at retail. I am passionate about developing and executing a plan for success with you. Thank you.

Meg Barnhart

Social-Impact Entrepreneur

Coaches brands on fine-tuning their current business practices for greater success.

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Meg Barnhart
Social-Impact Entrepreneur
I am a passionate social impact entrepreneur providing employment and opportunity for adults in underserved populations.

Mike Barone

Director of Sales

He works with growing brands to improve their business forecasting, e-commerce strategies, and broker relationships. He spent years building his expertise in sales strategy, while working with companies like, IAM's, Stacy's Pita Chips.

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Mike Barone
Director of Sales
He works with growing brands to improve their business forecasting, e-commerce strategies, and broker relationships. He spent years building his expertise in sales strategy, while working with companies like, IAM's, Stacy's Pita Chips, and Boom Chicka Pop, as they evolved from emerging to household brands. Mike is can also share insights on retailer interests, when working with emerging brands. Companies include Publix, Kroger, Harris Teeter, and Sprouts.

Julie Beck

Senior Sales & Marketing Executive

Helps emerging brands grow sales differently

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Julie Beck
Senior Sales & Marketing Executive
Julie helps emerging brands set strategic sales strategy including retail prioritization, key processes, and go to market approach. She shares insights on what it takes to win in different channels and with different retailers.

Elliot Begoun

Growth & Omnichannel Strategist

A leader in growing emerging food and beverage brands, with investment readiness and go-to-market strategies.

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Elliot Begoun
Growth & Omnichannel Strategist
Elliot Begoun is the Founder of The Intertwine Group, a practice focused on helping emerging food and beverage brands grow and become scalable and investable. He works with clients to design and execute customized go-to-market strategies that drive sales, build velocity, gain distribution, and win share of stomach. Catch him at FoodBytes in his role as a mentor and find his articles in publications such as the Huffington Post, SmartBrief, and New Hope.

Bryan Bootka

Sales & Broker Relations Advisor

Expertise in Sales Management and Broker Support.

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Bryan Bootka
Sales & Broker Relations Advisor
25 years of working in the natural products industry has shaped me into an entrepreneurial spirited and ROI minded team leader with systems development as a core competency. This journey began two and a half decades ago at Sun Harvest in San Antonio, the specific location later closed down after being acquired by Sprouts. Along with retail (where my career began), my journey includes brokering, with NS Sales (a division of Acosta) and with brands such as Nutraceutical, MediNatura, and MADE OF (just launching). Whether it is helping prepare brands to go to market like MADE OF or successfully moving a brand from the red to the black such as Ultima Replenisher, being part of the change needed to make a company successful makes me look forward to Monday mornings. Experiences ranging from work with regional and national brokers, converting a broker team to direct reps and enjoy being part of the change that all businesses must go through on a regular basis to stay relevant and successful in the industry.

Stephanie Bossung

VP Account Services, NewPoint Marketing

Marketing Retail Strategy and Branding Expert. Advises brands with smaller budgets how to optimize marketing plans for ROI.

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Stephanie Bossung
VP Account Services, NewPoint Marketing
Food industry marketing expertise—from retail to food service— is a natural outcome of having deep knowledge in every facet of a business’ operation. With 10 years in branding and business development, preceded by 15 years in mass media and promotions, Stephanie holds an executive-level expertise in sales, marketing, media, and production management. This exceptionally diverse skill set adds value for clients by providing a full complement of perspectives on food-industry brand management endeavors. Wired for a hawkish attention to detail, while also maintaining a high-resolution view of the big picture, Stephanie is uniquely able to provide astute branding direction and simultaneously apply the business principles necessary to squeeze more bang out of every marketing buck.

Kelly Bottenfield

Sales & Business Development Advisor

Provides coaching on various market strategies including specialty, conventional, club, and food service.

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Kelly Bottenfield
Sales & Business Development Advisor
Kelly Bottenfield is an accomplished sales professional with the proven ability to help emerging brands with advisement in the following areas: sales and distributor management, purchasing management, broker and team management, merchandising, and marketing. Kelly brings expertise in diverse areas of natural grocery, conventional, club, c-store/drug, e-comm and foodservice. She has been instrumental in achieving record growth in saturated markets with her decisive leadership skills.

Amaris Bradley

Food Brand Storytelling Expert

Offers food and beverage brands advisement on communications and branding strategy.

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Amaris Bradley
Food Brand Storytelling Expert
Amaris Bradley brings key expertise as a registered dietitian with a keen understanding of strategic nutrition communications and food policy. Her experience includes partnership-building, CSR strategizing, health professional outreach and nutrition communications and public relations. Currently, Amaris is Senior Account Lead at Eat Well Global, a highly-specialized strategic consulting firm focused on food, nutrition and health. In her role, she supports clients in planning and executing strategic health professional outreach and activations domestically and abroad. Prior to joining Eat Well Global, Amaris served as the resident nutrition expert at the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), a national nonprofit founded my Michelle Obama dedicated to leveraging the power of the private sector to bring lasting, systemic changes that improve the nation’s food supply and increase physical activity. While at PHA, Amaris brokered partnerships to transform the marketplace via third-party verified commitments to reformulate, innovate and market healthier options. Before joining PHA, she was Senior Account Executive at Porter Novelli, a global public relations agency where she executed nutrition communications strategies for a number of food boards and brands, including the Almond Board of California, NatureMade Vitamins and SOYJOY bars. Amaris holds a master’s degree in public health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a bachelor’s degree in dietetics from the Florida State University. She is an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and serves as communications chair for the Food and Culinary Professionals Dietetic Practice Group.
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Connecting industry experts as mentors

Connecting industry experts as mentors

Emerging brands learn alongside peers in FMI Emerge, interacting with industry experts through courses, online learning, discussion groups and more. Initial mentor consultations provide valuable guidance, connections and next steps.

Mentor, investor, sponsor and partner expertise keeps our community robust. We’re grateful to partner with the entire Emerge community, including the teams and mentors at JOH, WestRock, KitchenTown and the Maine Center for Entrepreneurs, who help to bring FMI Emerge resources and expertise to companies across the country. Join FMI Emerge and share your insights, advice and guidance.