Speakers

Hayssam Bejjani

The Chief
Cartel & Co

More about Hayssam

Hayssam is the founder and “Chief” at Cartel & Co, a boutique food & beverage brand partnership and distribution company. Cartel & Co started 11 years ago with a single-minded focus on partnering with small, artisanal producers and building their retail presence. With a stable of its owns brands and exclusive representation of a mindfully-crafted portfolio of over 40 producers, the team at Cartel & Co have created solid relationships along the East Coast of Australia and have become and indispensable supplier to independent retailers from Noosa to Hobart.

Kathryn Bricken

Founder
Doughlicious

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Kathryn Bricken Founder of Doughlicious – The London Dough Company is not just a successful businesswoman, mother and Olivier-nominated producer, she is leading the charge on a food revolution that is changing the way we snack, with her dough! Doughlicious is a “better for you” cookie dough manufacturer. They have taken something that everyone know and loves and made it better tasting, looking and “better for you”. We have modernised cookie dough not only in taste and flavours but also in look.

Rich Coombes

Partner
Nexus Adisory

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Rich is a Partner at Nexus Advisory, a boutique commercial finance advisory firm based in Sydney, that specialises in helping SMEs access financing from +200 non-bank and private lenders. Prior to joining Nexus, Rich spent almost 15 years creating and building beverage and technology companies as Co-Founder of Batlow Cider, Will & Co Coffee, Capital Brewing and Kaddy Marketplace. He specialises in business and brand development, sales & marketing, commercial strategy, wholesale distribution and capital raising. Building meaningful brands in the food and beverage sector is Rich’s biggest business passion. Prior to his career as a Founder, he spent 5 years in equity capital markets and mergers & acquisitions at UBS and Investec.

Pedro Da Costa

Liquor Retail Consultant
Consult Group

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Passionate and customer-focused senior executive, driving growth in top and bottom-line performance for national retailers. Proven expertise in data-driven product ranging, sourcing, revenue management, pricing, promotions, and supply chain optimisation. Strategic and commercially astute, excelling in synthesising market analytics, customer insights, and sales data to develop forward-looking retail and category strategies. Adept in communication, negotiation, and relationship building, Pedro has leveraged his skills and expertise to collaborate with numerous emerging and smaller scale suppliers, fostering the development of successful and sustainable brands.

Naishad Dalal

Director
Food Entrepreneurship Academy

More about Naishad
Naishad Dalal is a visionary food scientist and entrepreneur with a deep-seated passion for food innovation and nutrition. Dalal’s expertise spans across powdered beverages, infant formula, RTD beverages, child nutrition, and plant-based products. As the Founder and Director of Food Entrepreneurship Academy, Dalal has been at the forefront of launching over 110 products for 35 startups and excels as a new product development (NPD) specialist where his philosophy that ‘taste is king’ guides his approach to creating FMCG products that delight and satisfy.

Melinda Dimitriades-Catt

Owner
Omnivorium

More about Melinda
Melinda’s working life has sought to celebrate local farming, artisanal butchery, cheese making, food harvesting and wonderful cookery with a collective of kindred spirits. Today, her busines CHOP SHOP carnivorium, supplies high end retail with pastured, preservative free, retail ready smallgoods and her COMRADE agency for producers, facilitates direct relationships with retail outlets, subverting the middle man and creating, developing and encouraging arrangements between producer, farmer, retailers and restaurants.

Caitlin Emery

R&D Tax Manager
RSM

More about Caitlin
Caitlin is an R&D Tax Manager who has worked in RSM for over 5 years. Caitlin holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Professional Accounting) and a Bachelor of Business Administration and is continually focussing on expanding the breadth of her knowledge. Her expertise lies in preparing R&D claims across diverse industry sectors. Caitlin’s key specializations include Engineering, Software (including Fintech), Food and Beverage and Agricultural Technology. She has worked with both established enterprises and start-ups.

Veronica Fil

Owner
Say My Name

More about Veronica
Veronica is an entrepreneur, author and marketing strategist who specialises in food and restaurant brands. She’s spent the past four years as CEO of Los Angeles-based food tech startup, Grounded Foods Co—which she and her husband built from their home kitchen in Melbourne, and scaled to over 2,000 retailers across North America during the pandemic. Recently returned to Australia, Veronica now helps food businesses to understand what marketing tools are worth the effort, what’s a waste of money and—the most important question on everyone’s minds—how to use TikTok!

Chelsea Ford

Director
Chelsea Ford Co.

More about Chelsea

Chelsea Ford is protecting the growth and vitality of the consumer packaged goods industry. A highly regarded and award winning collaboration and business growth expert, advisor and consultant, Chelsea helps consumer packaged goods brand owners realise their dreams, at scale, by putting more money in their pockets. Chelsea is a Director of Chelsea Ford Co. Consulting & Advisory, host of five-star rated Foodpreneur with Chelsea Ford podcast, and Founder and Managing Director of Foodpreneurs Festival.

Luisa Ford

Director
One Seen Bean

More about Luisa
Luisa is the founder of One Seen BeanTM, a communications consultancy that rebels against the dominance of deep-pocketed giants. Her work stems from the belief that small brands can compete with bigger brands, no matter how modest their marketing budgets start out. Over 25 years, Luisa has partnered with hundreds of brand leaders; advised CEOs and politicians; taken unknown brands to become household names; and gotten down in the trenches with countless entrepreneurs to help them be seen, heard and grow.

Andrew & Kate Gordon

Co-founders
Naked Rivals

More about Andrew & Kate
Meet Andrew and Kate Gordon, the culinary power couple [that’s maybe a stretch] behind Naked Rivals, a food venture born in the chaos of welcoming the birth of their third child in Sydney. Conceiving the idea during Kate’s pregnancy in October 2022, these two turned a crazy concept into reality, landing their 100% lemon and lime juice cubes in 1,700 supermarket freezers within 15 months. With a focus on delivering a great consumer experience, a robust distribution strategy, and data as their secret ingredient, the Gordons are the champions of a tastier, more sustainable world.

Liam Gostencnik

Co-Founder
Bae Juice

More about Liam
Meet Liam Gostencnik, a once terrible commercial real estate agent turned business owner. After many failed attempts to get various business ideas off the ground with long time best friend Tim, Bae Juice came along to not only get him out of bed but to help prevent the very serious problem of Hangovers. After 5 years in the market, the team has grown yearly revenue in Australia to $3M plus, assisting a large demographic of people hoping to avoid hangovers. With the brand recently launching in the USA, the thought of creating an international brand is one that is extremely exciting. He is passionate about building on the company’s strong start with his best mates and exploring the never ending possibilities in the product world.

Matt Jones

Co-founder
Four Pillars Gin

More about Matt

Matt Jones has an eclectic background, combining economics, politics, communications, brand strategy and gin. In 2013, Matt co-founded Four Pillars Gin, helping grow Four Pillars into Australia’s favourite craft gin, and helping grow a business that has now been named the world’s leading gin producer three times. Today Matt continues to help drive Four Pillars into its second decade, while also speaking and mentoring around the intersection of brand and business strategy, experiences and storytelling, and creativity and growth.

Frederic Leforestier

Director
En Roue Libre Consulting

More about Frederic

Frederic is an Angel investor, Mentor and a Strategic advisor. Frederic has invested in several high growth start-up businesses in the food/Agri tech, FMCG/consumer goods and related industries. Frederic works closely with founders acting as a mentor and helping them scale while achieving profitability with a focus on strategic growth development, building a culture of innovation and a disciplined approach to capital and resources management. Before becoming an angel investor, Frederic held several senior executive positions around the world with multi-million dollar businesses including EIKOS Services which he founded in 1999, aged 24.

Nigel Lopez-McBean

Partner / Creative Strategist
SQUAD Studio

More about Nigel

Nigel is an Emmy® nominated storyteller and creative strategist who develops original, branded, social content. He has worked in Sydney, London and Los Angeles, with brands, agencies, platforms and film studios on content development and storytelling for 15+ years for companies such as Disney, Amazon, Netflix, Apple, Hendrick’s Gin and Bumble. He specialises in finding new, collaborative ways to make positive change, usually involving great people, creative goodness, and fun insights.

Fun insight: Nigel’s father became a supermarket manager in Jamaica with nine employees at 16 years old.

Scott Mendelsohn

Owner
Raw C

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Scott Mendelsohn is a businessman, entrepreneur, mentor, and one of the Australian FMCG industry’s big thinkers. With his strong relationship-building style and wide-ranging networks, Scott has developed innovative partnerships and collaborations in every chapter of his business journey. Scott started his working life at Macquarie Bank while completing a Bachelor of Business at the University Of Technology Sydney. His passion for business and strong investor networks have underpinned the success of all of his businesses and projects. Now, Managing Director of Australia’s leading and beloved coconut brand Natural Raw C, he has built the company from a humble start-up to a $30 + million turnover company employing staff nationally.

Hannah Murphy

Partner Manager
Tracksuit

More about Hannah

What if we told you having a strong brand can help you unlock more shelf space, acquire more customers, have a higher lifetime value and protect yourself against competitors and economic downturn?

Join Hannah to unpack the role of brand and brand health metrics in building a stronger more sustainable business for the long term. Hannah manages agency relationships for Tracksuit Australia, a revolutionary brand tracking software that’s changing the way agencies and brands measure and communicate their brand health and marketing effectiveness.

In a world that’s obsessed with short term results, she’s a champion for long term brand building alongside Tracksuit’s ever-growing list of brands from fintech to fashion to FMCG and beyond such as Simplicity, BondiSands, Henne and Petstock.

Tim O’Sullivan

Co-Founder
Bae Juice

More about Tim
Meet Tim O’Sullivan, Co-Founder at Bae Juice and owner of multiple businesses. After meeting one of the Co-Founders Sumin Do, a trip to South Korea to meet her family would change everything. Enter Korean Pear Juice, a product the South Korean population have been consuming for thousands of years to prevent hangovers. Tim’s extremely passionate about building brands and all the different ways of marketing. Along with working full time on Bae Juice Tim still works at a local cafe he part owns with his family making coffees every Sunday.

Julia Panovski

R&D Tax and Government Initiatives Manager
RSM

More about Julia
Julia is a Manager in the R&D Tax and Government Initiatives team, that specialises in advising clients from iconic multi-nationals through to nimble start-ups, and everything in between. Julia has extensive experience in the full preparation of R&D claims across a number of key industry sectors, with key specialisation relating to the application of scientific knowledge to various technologies which are the subject of R&D claims. From an industry specialisation perspective, Julia’s key areas of specialisation are Manufacturing, Food and Beverage and Software.

Nicholas Simms

Founder
NCES

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Experienced strategic advisor in the Consumer Packaged Goods ‘CPG’ sector, with a proven track record of driving step change growth in both domestic and international markets. Having held managerial roles at industry giants Mars Inc. and HJ Heinz, before achieving remarkable successes with start-ups. Specifically, propelling five:am organics to an $86M exit and led the transformation of Bubs from a small business into an ASX Top 300 company with a $600m market cap.

Matthew Squadrito

Co-founder / Creative Director
SQUAD Studio

More about Matthew
Matthew is the creative visionary at SQUAD, with a highly coveted signature style that has transformed some of the most innovative and successful food and beverage brands in Australia. He is an authority on how premium brands should show up in the market and has helped shape leading brands such as Archie Rose Distilling Co, The Grounds, Felons Brewing Co, Sacred Grounds Coffee, Campos Coffee and Nuzest Supplements. His relentless creative spirit inspires a new generation of designers and thinkers who share in his mission to revolutionise how the world perceives mighty Australian craft brands.

Terry Squadrito

Co-founder / Partnerships Director
SQUAD Studio

More about Terry
Terry is the innovative mastermind at SQUAD with a rare set of skills that blend creative vision with a solid strategic backbone. He is a natural connector who brings together the best minds in the industry to push category boundaries. With 15 years of experience building craft food and beverage brands, Terry is on a mission to transform premium Australian brands into global superstars. He has helped shape leading brands such as Archie Rose Distilling Co, The Grounds, Felons Brewing Co, Sacred Grounds Coffee, Campos Coffee and Nuzest Supplements.

Mia Van Tubbergh

Sales Partner
Elm Professional

More about Mia
Radio star and Sales Executive Mia Van Tubbergh has over 25 years’ experience in sales, and led the successful “Grow your Business” program on Alive FM, North-western Sydney’s premier community radio station, for over 3 years. Mia understands the importance of well-trained sales staff who are highly engaged and motivated, and works with sales teams to ensure that they know the culture of the company and buy into the passion. Mia specialises in working in sales in the food, retail and FMCG space, and has relationships with over 900 stores and buyers across Australia- she often laughs that she spends more time on the phone with buyers than with her husband and kid.

Jonny Wilkinson

Director
Equitise

More about Jonny
Jonny Wilkinson is the Director and Co-Founder of Equitise, ANZ’s leading equity crowdfund business. Equitise provides a platform for businesses wanting to leverage their network and community in helping them raise capital, whilst providing investment opportunities for everyday people to invest in great companies.