You may not have known it, but brands that have gone through the SKU accelerator program may already line your shelves and fridge.
SKU set up shop in North Texas in 2020 through a partnership with DFW CPG. Now the local arm of the Austin-based consumer packaged goods-focused accelerator program has unveiled the five companies in its third cohort. Their products range from kombucha and Vietnamese cold brew to breastmilk pump accessories and sexual wellness products.
All five have female founders
This lineup comes with a difference: It marks the first time SKU has had an all-female-founded cohort, the organization said (including OMNI Bev founder Tammy Huynh, above, and Nakey Founder Shawna Watterson, below). Also, SKU Dallas startups need not come from North Texas, and all five in this cohort are from out of state.
“The North Texas CPG landscape is on a growth trajectory with new consumer brands and exciting concepts emerging frequently,” Derek Ramos, a member of DFW CPG’s executive steering committee and director of partnerships at Reap Commerce, told Dallas Innovates.
Chosen for innovation, traction, and strength
SKU’s Managing Director Emily Kealey said the latest batch of companies were chosen based on things like innovation, the business’ traction in the market, and the “strength” of the companies’ founders.
The startups will now take part in a 12-week program that kicks off on August 29.
They’ll receive tailored mentorship in areas like fundraising, branding, operations, and channel strategy from SKU’s mentor network, which includes executives from big names like 7-Eleven, Target, and Coca-Cola.
SKU Dallas’ program focuses on later-stage startup brands with more than $500,000 in annual revenue. Following the completion of the program, participating companies receive $20,000 in funding, according to the SKU Dallas website.
“We focus on some of the trends where we’re seeing the most innovation, which include functional beverages, better-for-you snacks, plant-based protein, and sexual health,” said Michelle Breyer, SKU’s CMO.
Meet SKU Dallas’ third cohort below (descriptions provided by the accelerator)
Mortal Ventures (Boulder, Colorado)
Becca Schepps launched Mortal Kombucha to appeal to people who love soda and other functional energy drinks but might never try kombucha. Mortal Kombucha is a rebel kombucha brand with both a hard kombucha and non-alcoholic kombucha. In addition to kombucha, Mortal sells a functional sparkling water.
Nakey (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Founded by Shawna Watterson and Hannah Rose, Nakey is a female-owned sexual wellness and body product company challenging conventional standards of beauty and sexuality. Its flagship offering is the playfully named Muff Masque, a fragrance-free sheet mask for the vulva.
OMNI Bev (San Jose, California)
Founder Tammy Huynh created the first ready-to-drink authentic Vietnamese cold brew coffee. From the grower to the roaster, the single-origin coffee beans are harvested directly from her family farm in Vietnam. OMNI Bev would like to introduce the rest of the world to the Vietnamese coffee culture through their coffee products as well as virtual tasting experiences.
Pippy Sips (Philadelphia)
After facing her own problems when pumping breast milk, Amberlee Venti created Pippy Sips to develop pumping accessories that improve upon the status quo. The first product, Maia, is a patented, award-winning system for storing, cooling, and monitoring breastmilk.
True Scoops (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Founded by Kelly Williamson and Shelly Marshall, True Scoops makes DIY ice cream and topping mixes that create an easy and fun ice cream-making experience at home. The ice cream can be made with a blender or an ice cream maker and requires only one added ingredient: Half & Half. It’s a true scoop of fresh, premium ice cream.
More about SKU
Called one of the country’s top accelerators by Forbes, SKU was launched in 2011 by lawyer Shari Wynne Ressler and Clayton Christopher, founder of Sweet Leaf Tea and Deep Eddy Vodka. Since then it’s expanded its programming to cities including Atlanta, New York, and Minneapolis.
The accelerator came to Dallas through a partnership with local networking and mentorship organization DFW CPG, which was formed in 2019 by Rick Jordan, co-chair of Polsinelli’s venture capital and emerging growth companies practice, and food industry veteran Richard Riccardi. DFW CPG launched with a mission “to provide insights and learning opportunities.” Since coming to the region, SKU Dallas has graduated 12 companies, including local plant-based jerky brand All Y’alls Foods, along with other Texas companies Meli’s Monster Cookies and mmmpanadas.
“SKU’s presence has helped elevate CPG in the minds of business people in the DFW Metroplex and among the greater CPG community nationally, gaining attention from brand founders, investors, mentors, and vendors,” Ramos said. “Importantly, it has helped foster more connections within and throughout Texas and beyond.”
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