Being on Chobani’s email blast has its perks. They not only send you updates about the Incubator (open applications NOW!) but they also let you know of events around the US. A few months back, I attended the Fancy Food show in San Francisco — a WONDERFUL event that I may not have otherwise heard about.

BY CHANCE?? When Zach and I made our way to Wauwatosa, WI and settled into our apartment, I received an email from Chobani. 1. That the Incubator application is open again & 2. HAPPY HOUR SOCIAL IN CHICAGO!!!!
Chicago, IL is now only 1hour and 40mins from me. Meaning a 2 hours and 50minute drive (depending- haha). I love how the by chance of Zach and I not knowing where we are going (ever) to being so close to opportunities such as this, makes me understand that Jesus does have the wheel and everything will work out as it should.

The event was held at Fulton Market Kitchen. A very swanky, artistic place with impeccable cocktails. When I attend places like this, or find myself immersed in a feeling — I feel like I’m in an episode of Sex and the City at a ‘new’ New York open house for a new trendy bar. Obviously, the chatter and conversation is MUCH different. I sincerely love the feeling I get when I’m in or around a big city. 🙂

As the evening unfolded and after saying hi to Mitch (Incubator Specialist) and Jackie (Incubator Director) my evening was filled with other entrepreneurs pitching their ideas, getting feedback, asking questions all in a small group networks. It’s always neat to see. Some of the brands, businesses and groups I met with are as follows:

Brittany started her company 4 years back and has continued to beat the odds with her non-grain granola. I’m happy to add her to my network for she has a broker, her line in Whole Foods, and a willingness to go further. I purchased some of her Blueberry Granola online — No doubt in my mind, it’s going to be delicious! You can save 20% by using CODE: WEGOWITHIN at checkout!

Geri, founder of BE GOOD Baking Company — wonderful flavored coconut flakes with different flavors. I for one, thought the chocolate blend was the best. It reminded me of frosted flakes with a dash of chocolate coating every bite. Nice, CRISPY bites that nailed the craving. I’m supper excited to see where this brand goes. She also teamed up with a lady, I believe it to be her cousin, from Toronto– an empanada restaurant called Savory Crust.

City Capital Ventures
Two gentlemen, Michael and Taggart, were kind enough to visit with me about my next steps for Gnarly Pepper. They had also gave me insight of what I should be focusing on and provided their assistance in taking a look at my Pitch Deck. Thanks guys!

Vital Proteins
I visited with Shawn, the CFO of Vital Proteins, a company that is taking collagen to a whole new level, within the cosmetic industry. The consumption of collagen. ‘Food’ yet, right next to your creams and foundation. Mind blowing.

Whole Brain Consulting
I met Will of Whole Brain Consulting who was interested in my products and has a keen eye for the packaged goods. He brainstormed with me briefly about my struggle with placement and introduced me to Shaun of Access Strategies, that is willing to visit with me about this (hopefully minor) struggle.

Chicagoland Food
Alan, the Executive Director of Chicagoland Food, visited with me about the dairy portion of industry. Perhaps a great future contract if Gnarly Pepper were to ever start our own line of plain greek yogurt??

I met the founder of Bestea, and he found opportunity in a booming business (hibiscus tea) + (sparkling water) = BOOM > a business idea, perfectly directed to the best of both words in the direction of what people want out of a drink.  He had told me to work 110% all-day/everyday on e-commerce. As I agreed, I’m looking into avenues of gaining more reach, understanding what promotions need to be boosted etc. Great stuff.

A highlight of the event, though I didn’t get much time with him, was meeting the founder of Rumi Spice. His story is incredible of how he got started, and for obvious reasons, the product itself is very good.

I’m certainly going to apply to the incubator again — stay tuned!
– Sara
Founder of Gnarly Pepper