We are thrilled to announce our killer lineup of judges for FoodBytes! NYC on June 15. Specializing in food investment, product innovation, retail buying and more, and captained by Rabobank’s Global Head of F&A Innovation, Manuel Gonzalez, our esteemed panel brings diverse expertise to the FoodBytes! table.
Our FoodBytes! NYC judges are:
Elly Truesdell – Global Coordinator Local Brands, Product Innovation & Development, Whole Foods Market
Emma Frelinghuysen – Vice President Cultivate Ventures, The Hain Celestial Group, Inc.
Robyn O’Brien– Founder, Do Good & AllergyKids Foundation
Mike Graver – Principal, CircleUp
Judges’ Team Captain: Manuel Gonzalez, Global Head of F&A Innovation, Rabobank
At FoodBytes! NYC, ten food, food tech and agtech companies will give a 3.5-minute pitch and ten companies will give a 60-second pitch to the judges and the audience of investors, executives, industry leaders and media. The day before the event, the pitch companies will rehearse their pitches for the judges and receive feedback, as well as take part in mentorship sessions with industry-leading experts. Learn more about the FoodBytes! NYC mentors and the mentorship day here.
At FoodBytes! NYC, the judges will ask one question to each company before opening it up for audience Q&A. Following the pitches, the judges will convene briefly and then present the Judges’ Choice Award to the company that has the most scalable business model, innovative product, demonstrated traction and a game-changing social impact. Learn more about the judging criteria here. The panel of judges will also present the Highly Commended Award to the 60-second company that has the most potential to excel at the criteria above.
Check out our judges’ bios below to learn more about their game-changing work. Want to attend and meet our them in person on June 15? Interested in pitching at FoodBytes! Austin in September 2017? Apply here.
Elly Truesdell, Global Coordinator Local Brands, Product Innovation & Development, Whole Foods Market
As Global Coordinator of Local Brands, Product Innovation & Development, Elly Truesdell leads strategic partnerships for local purchasing programs across the company. Truesdell offers expertise in brand development, food trends and product innovation, grown from eight years of leadership in purchasing and marketing at Whole Foods Market’s Northeast Region. Truesdell made her mark by identifying and launching local products across categories, overseeing the Northeast’s grocery program and cultivating emerging suppliers for national distribution. Just after earning a degree in media studies from the University of Virginia, Truesdell worked and trained on an organic vegetable farm and with food justice organizations, which solidified her interest in the food industry. When she’s not discovering new brands, she spends her time cooking, traveling, hiking, and enjoying life with friends and family.
Emma Frelinghuysen, Vice President Cultivate Ventures, The Hain Celestial Group, Inc.
Emma Frelinghuysen has over 15 years of experience in consumer-facing food and beverage. In her current role, Emma is leading the newest strategic platform at Hain Celestial –Cultivate Ventures. Cultivate is designed to invest behind smaller portfolio brands, lifestyle brands and concepts and incubator opportunities with a focused and disruptive approach. Prior to this role, Emma also led the marketing organization for the BluePrint® brand –the category leader in fresh, cold-pressed beverage and held a strategy position within the Hain Celestial organization, where she helped the company improve revenue coming from e-commerce channels.
Prior to joining Hain Celestial, Emma spent 7 years at FreshDirect, the leading on-line grocer in the New York metropolitan area, building the company’s product assortment and managing profitability. She initiated the concept and launched the company’s private label program, which now consists of over 150 products across several brands and categories. Emma also spent time on the Johnnie Walker and Guinness brand teams at Diageo North America, having started her career at Williams-Sonoma working in public relations and marketing communication.
She has a BA from Trinity College and an MBA from Stanford University. She also has completed the basic cooking and wine programs at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, France and was a French-American Foundation Young Leader from 2014-2016. Emma is a City Chair for the Groton School Women’s Network, a member of the Board of Directors of the French-American Foundation, a Mentor for Accel Foods –a national food and beverage accelerator and Hain Celestial’s advisory partner with Village Capital‘s 2016 agriculture program for start-ups. She is a former member of the Advisory Board of The James Beard Foundation. She lives in New York with her husband and two children.
Robyn O’Brien, Founder, Do Good & AllergyKids Foundation
Robyn O’Brien has been called “Food’s Erin Brockovich” by Bloomberg and the New York Times. She received her MBA on a full scholarship from Rice University, graduating as the top woman in her class. She then went to work as an equity analyst on a team that managed $20 billion in assets. The team launched the company’s first hedge fund which won top performer at the company. As an analyst she covered the food and tech industries, but her life took an abrupt turn when her youngest child had a life threatening allergic reaction. She turned her analytical skills towards our food system, the health of our families, companies and economies and what we can do to invest in health. She has helped lead a food movement and regularly appears in the press. Robyn’s work has been recognized by political leaders around the country, by General Mills, Chipotle, Coca Cola, Target, Chili’s Restaurants, investors and others in the food industry. She is a recognized thought leader, an advisor to startups and multinationals, named by Forbes Women as a woman to follow on Twitter, named by SHAPE Magazine as a woman to shape the world, and the author of the bestseller The Unhealthy Truth and founder of Do Good and the AllergyKids Foundation. She lives in Boulder with her husband and four children, where she loves to run and garden.
Mike Graver, Principal, CircleUp
Michael Graver is a Principal on the Capital Markets team at CircleUp, the platform providing capital and resources to innovative, early-stage consumer brands, and opportunities for sophisticated investors to participate in their growth. Mike brings to CircleUp nearly a decade of experience in the Equities division at JPMorgan, most recently as an Executive Director of Institutional Sales. In this role, Mike delivered daily stock insights and market themes to a wide range of asset managers as well as coordinated interest and investor feedback in JPMorgan’s leading capital markets franchise. In the consumer space specifically, Mike has worked on some of the largest IPOs of recent years, such as GNC, Dunkin’ Brands, Michael Kors, The Fresh Market, Annie’s Foods and Blue Buffalo. Mike graduated magna cum laude from Saint Anselm College with a BA in International Business, and holds Series 7 and 63 licenses.
Manuel Gonzalez, Global Head of F&A Innovation, Rabobank
Manuel Gonzalez is the Global Head of F&A Innovation at Rabobank. Formerly, he was Managing Director of the Rabobank North America Wholesale San Francisco office, and Head of the Western Region Corporate Clients for Rabobank North America Wholesale, prior to which he was the Country Head of Rabobank Mexico for four years. In 2015, Manuel created FoodBytes!, underscoring Rabobank’s mission of banking for food, which continues to search for new ways to increase impact in the Food and Agri innovation space.
Manuel joined Rabobank in 1996 as a project manager in the Project Finance business in Mexico. In 2003, he was named Head of Credit and a year later became the Head of Credit and Legal. Prior to Rabobank, Manuel was the General Manager for six years at Gonzalez Guzman Alimentos, a diary and food distribution company.
Manuel holds an MBA from Georgetown University.