Vol. 127 - NO. 39

Blog Startup CPG

SINCE 2019

Meet our Startup CPG
community leaders!

Behind every meet-up we host, whether it is in LA, Atlanta, or DC, is one of our amazing city community leaders. They are our boots on the ground across the country and we could not be more grateful for their hard work and dedication to this ever-growing CPG community.

To show our thanks, we’ve decided to turn the spotlight onto these kick-a** community leaders today — keep reading to learn a little bit more about each of them and introduce yourself at the next event!

Meet Anne Klassman — Chicago

I am a mom to two awesome college-age kids who I would guess have eaten more greens-based snacks than any other kids in the country as we worked to develop our plant-based savory snacks, Undressed Salad Bars. Anytime I meet a new industry contact, I excitedly tell them why they should join Startup CPG. I love connecting people. So helping to grow and bring our Chicago community together is really enjoyable for me.

Fun facts about Anne:
– I absolutely love most forms of exercise
– I love all animals and I am like a magnet for sick, dying, or lost animals of all varieties from kittens to bats to deer we somehow find each other.

Meet Hilary Cocalis – San Diego

I’m the Founder and Chief Go Getter of Sipwell Wine Co., a company I launched in 2021. I’m a first time founder but have a background in CPG/food & bev, and over a decade of experience in alc beverage. In my spare time (what spare time?) I am usually doing something fun outside with my two daughters (7 and 5), or making homemade ice cream. I love being a community leader because I love seeing how the CPG community in San Diego connects and overlaps, and that I can help connect this community even more.

Fun facts about Hilary:
– I was a college rower but haven’t picked up an oar since I graduated.
– I grew up in New England but I’ve lived in California (LA & San Diego) for 15 years.


Meet Claire DeMarco – San Diego

Hi I’m Claire! You probably recognize me from the Slack channels – I work on the Marketing team here at Startup CPG. I also run my own PR & marketing agency working with CPG (particularly in the food, beverage, beauty and health industries) and tech companies. I used to work for a couple of the top PR agencies in New York and 3 years ago went off on my own to offer my services on a freelance basis. I love getting to work with a variety of brands and helping them tell their stories and grow their businesses. I’m based in San Diego, though I help with organizing our meetups all over the world. I love connecting with people – please don’t hesitate to reach out anytime. Can’t wait to keep growing! Especially here in SD 🙂

Fun facts about Claire:
– I studied abroad for my first semester of college
– I taught a yoga class for a PR client with Major Lazer (last minute when the teacher canceled)

Meet Paul Beaupre – Atlanta

I’ve was in big CPG for 20+ years (Coca-Cola and its venture group). The last 7-8 years I’ve worked with early-stage CPG brands with a focus on female and diverse founders running businesses that have a positive impact on human or environmental health through my consulting company Bo Pray LLC. I’ve been part of the CPG communities in Austin, Boulder, NY. LA…and saw a demand / opportunity for this in Atlanta. Rather than create a new organization I wanted to tap into great, existing infrastructure like Start-up CPG, local universities, SKU, BevNet… first focused on the founders. Response has been great with 65, 85, and 100+ people attending our last meet-ups.  We’re just getting started and have big plans to enhance the CPG ecosystem in Atlanta with Start-up CPG at the core.

Fun facts about Paul:
– I am number 10 of 11 kids
– Enjoys cycling

Meet Prabal Chaudhri – Boston

I am a fellow founder (BRAVE GOOD KIND) who loves the Startup CPG community as we all support & inspire each other. As a classically trained CPG executive, I have global experience in building/scaling profitable brands, developing high-performance team, and a passion for the intersection of food, health & wellness. I am also on the Board of Naturally New England where we work to advance local food startups and innovation ecosystem. When not working on my startup or supporting fellow founders, I run my other startups (My 2 kids) with my wife.

In October, we took a tough decision to close BRAVE GOOD KIND, which means for the first time in a long time I am available to help the CPG brands launch, grow, or scale. I have extensive experience in brand management, marketing, eCom & growing distribution. I excel at driving brand awareness, creating demand & retail execution. If you have met me, especially at a tradeshow, you know I can sell :-). I am open to working FT or consulting for emerging and small CPG companies.

Fun facts about Prabal:
– I am Black Belt in Karate and a former Kickboxer
– I am also building a stealth startup in the early childhood education space

Meet Maggie Robinson – New York City

Maggie has spent the past 5+ years working for Accenture and is currently a Marketing Transformation Manager helping CPG clients solve challenges within the marketing, consumer experience, and commerce spaces. Outside of working, I love to cook, be outside, and spend time with her friends traveling & exploring every inch of the city. She has a huge passion for food, wellness, and Formula 1 so she’d love to geek out with anyone anytime on these topics. Maggie’s really excited to get involved with Startup CPG to meet everyone and see all the amazing things being done in the CPG entrepreneurship space!

Fun facts about Maggie:
– Moved from Chicago to New York in January
– I love to run. I ran my first marathon in 2022 and am now addicted, so have plenty of long-distance races coming my way.


Meet Kevin Faldu – New York City

I was born and raised in New Jersey and graduated from Rutgers, making me a true Jersey boy. Growing up as an American with immigrant parents from India, I was quickly immersed in two very different cultures and was able to learn both English and Gujarati, becoming fluent in both at a young age. I’ve built my success and achievements in life by constantly asking questions, taking chances, connecting the dots, often working for free at times, while being both a mentor and a mentee. I learned quickly to always bet on myself first, while still making sure I was part of a bigger picture. Despite never having an official office position, I took calculated risks over the last decade and a half allowing me to succeed professionally by becoming an entrepreneur and investor in my 20s. Spending countless hours over the years building my network, learning about multiple industries, and constantly trying to add value to those around me. I’m currently a Director at Flip and today I utilize my skills, vast network, knowledge in multiple verticals and work ethic to help build an innovative social shopping marketplace.  Live It – Learn It – Own It

Fun facts about Kevin:
– Sports and Food are a love language for me
– Milk and cookies are still a guilty pleasure of mine

Meet Patricia Menegoto – San Francisco

I’m a freelance marketer and UGC creator for CPG brands, with a passion for working on email and influencer marketing. I’m also an influencer and love sharing about living a healthy lifestyle, beauty and fashion on my Instagram (@patriciamenegoto). Originally from Brazil, I’ve been living in the USA for 5 years, I moved for love (yes, we’re still together — it’s the first thing everyone asks me, haha) and we’re getting married in 2024. I joined Startup CPG when I recently moved to the USA to gain insights into the CPG landscape in this country, and haven’t left since then, today I’m the director of marketing and community. I love helping emerging brands, and I love that I’m able to do that with this community and my freelance job, and connecting with others in this industry.

Fun facts about Patricia:
– I lived in Denmark for a year when I was 17 and learned how to speak danish
– I played handball for my high school back home in Brazil (however, I learned that most people in the USA don’t know what handball is…)

Meet Natalie Alibrandi – London

Natalie has over a decade of experience working within FMCG in Quality Assurance, Research and Development, Innovation and Marketing. Her aim is to support small brands and start-ups with the technical assistance to formulate, package and execute manufacturing on a large scale for product launches. Natalie is London-based, having lived previously in New York City, and have global experience of product launches in LATAM, EMEA and APAC.

Fun facts about Natalie:
– I’m a great cook
– I’m an expat living in London

Meet Jesica Oliverio – Portland

Hi, I’m Jesica! I grew up in the midwest and eventually moved to Portland, Oregon swapping the snow and humidity for 8 months of straight rain. I’ve always had a knack for entrepreneurialism and realized at a young age that the 9-5 grind wasn’t for me. So I traded that for a 24/7 rollercoaster of being a small business owner and started Maté Party.  Small business is a big responsibility and also an integral part of what makes Portland so unique. While immensely fulfilling, it is also extremely taxing and sometimes lonely. I wanted a space where CPG owners could gather and talk about their wins and woes, ask questions and also share answers. I reached out to Startup CPG for a Portland chapter and couldn’t have found a better community!

Fun facts about Jesica:
– I’ve spent 15 years doing pottery, and although my creations are far from masterpieces, they tell a tale of my delightful and ongoing battle with the wheel
– I changed my name to Jesica (with one ‘s’) in 1999 and it just stuck! Even my parents spell it that way now

Meet Jen Herczeg –  Philadelphia

I’m passionate about local food & farming and like to think of myself as a small business champion. Being in this industry for almost 20 years, I’ve built a large network and live connecting people and resources. I love to highlight great cpg brands in my shops (Salt & Vinegar) and pass along advice and knowledge to my vendors, partners and colleagues. Philadelphia is an incredible food community and I’m excited to help extend the passion for the restaurant scene into the cpg world here and beyond.

Fun facts about Jen:
– I’m a Pastry School grad with an MBA
– I’m 100% Croatian

Meet Kim Biddle –  Philadelphia

I love Philly! And I’m so excited to be a community leader here to help support, network and facilitate some awesome events for our local CPG Brands brands. I live in Chester County and run my small Affiliate Marketing agency here, called Clutch Affiliate. I’ve been in the Natural Products space for about 17 years and I’m also on the Partnerships team at Startup CPG. I have two teenagers, yay! and three dogs,enjoy a good documentary (I’ll recommend some when we meet), strong cold brew and playing field hockey on the weekends.  Can’t wait to meet everyone!! Oh and Go Birds!

Fun fact about Kim:
– I was on HGTV in a show called Renovation Realities

Meet Andre’ Matthews –  Austin

Hey Everyone, My name is Andre’ based in Austin! I work as a Brand Partnership Director at Flip. I’m a person who loves to have fun and help others succeed. Making other people enjoy the moment is my favorite. I love to bring good energy as my glass is always half full. Looking forward to connecting with more like-minded individuals and working together towards our overall success!

Fun facts about Andre:
– I’m an Eagle Scout
– I’m an Actor

Meet Steven Morales – Miami

I’m a commercial photographer, specializing in CPG, and founder of Steven Miguel Studio. I’m half-Peruvian, married to a Finn, and a father of two little ones that speak three languages. My passion for cooking (especially for my family), trying new foods, and travel was a big part of what sparked my career change from branding to food photography. I started out mostly shooting for restaurants and bloggers, when CPG brands started to catch my eye –  I’m a sucker for modern, fun packaging and branding. I started following CPG brands on Linkedin, connecting with CPG founders, listening to their stories and felt like the people of CPG were my people. I attended a lot of Startup CPG’s events when Daniel was in Miami. After he returned to the west coast, I really started to miss the camaraderie and knew I had to “get the band back together.” Claire and Patricia helped David and I sync up and become community leaders. Now Startup CPG Miami is back on the map.  It’s so much fun to have the Miami CPG community gathering again, helping each other out, sampling, laughing, and having a great time!

Fun facts about Steven:
– I am a huge Napoli soccer fan
– I spend most of my summers In Finland. (visiting wife’s family)

Meet Melissa Guzman – Miami

A Dominican-American chef that has made it her mission to remix her cultural foods into healthier everyday options. She began her culinary career after she was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune illness which landed her in a wheelchair. “I lost my ability to walk, open my left hand, and my sense of self,” stated Melissa. Instead of giving up she channeled her energy into getting better. She went plant-based and in little time she was able to stand, wobble, and then walk. Once she was able to regain her strength she began to miss her cultural foods, especially plantains.

You can find her plantain jerky on her site The Caribe Vegan.

Fun facts about Melissa:

– I got myself out of a wheelchair

– I rescue dogs

Meet Jennifer Molina – Miami

Meet Jennifer Molina, the Co-Founder + CEO behind Pax, shaking up the beverage scene with her innovative spirit and passion for empowering people with better optionality. 

With over 15 years of dynamic sales and marketing experience, Jennifer honed her skills in the fast growing realm of real estate development in South Florida. Her journey has been one of defying norms and constant transformation, always pushing boundaries to bring fresh ideas to life – qualities that now drive Pax’s mission. With a passion for socializing, a commitment to health and a flair for taste and convenience, Jennifer has created a line of single-serve cocktail/ mocktail mixes that are not only delicious but also zero calorie and 0g of sugar. 

Meet Mark Shesser – Washington D.C.

Mark is the founder and CEO of Coldsmoke Creative, a leading Shopify Plus Partner that helps brands design, develop, and optimize their ecommerce stores. Coldsmoke works with established CPG players (REBBLChameleon Coffee) and startup brands (KlooDroosh) alike. They also work with leading brands across verticals like Fashion & Beauty (Sid and Ann Mashburn, BYLT Basics, ILIA Beauty).

Fun facts about Mark:
– Mark lives in Washington, DC with his wife Juli (a Registered Dietitian!) and their two daughters and black lab

Meet Margaret Coons – Toronto

Margaret Coons is the Founder & CEO of Nuts For Cheese, Canada’s market leader in artisan, organic, plant-based dairy manufacturing. Vegan from an early age, Margaret developed a passion for plant-based cuisine becoming a vegan chef and experimenting with nuts and seeds to create deliciously creamy dairy-free cheeses. Since launching at a farmer’s market in 2015, Nuts For Cheese™ has enjoyed explosive growth across Canada and the United States with its award-winning artisanal and versatile dairy-free products available at national retailers, including Loblaws, Sobeys, Whole Foods Market, Sprouts Farmers Market, and more. Today, Nuts For Cheese™ employs 30+ people, operating from a 25,000 square foot manufacturing facility in London, Ontario. Nuts For Cheese™ continues to scale year-over-year with a mission to create delicious, dairy-free and vegan cheese for cheese lovers everywhere.

Meet Meredith Harren – Toronto

Hi I’m Meredith. An inspired and strategic business enthusiast with over 20 years of diverse experience in CPG sales and marketing. I am the founder and chief changemaker at CHNGMKR CPG Consulting launched in 2023 supporting brands to grow with purpose, profit, and creativity.

From scrappy start-ups to mega-brands, with local to global footprints and everything in between, CHNGMKR provides strategic GTM planning, results oriented business solutions, fractional senior sales leadership, and country brand management. CHNGMKR helps brands to achieve sustainable long-term revenue growth and top-of-mind presence with retail partners and consumers alike. CHNGMKR is tenacious about the greater good for people and the planet, and we are passionate about supporting brands who share the same foundational ethos that we do.

With a bountiful bias for positive action in both business and life, I love spending time outdoors exercising, and exploring our beautiful planet with my twin daughters.

Meet Sachi Kittur – Toronto

Before entering the CPG industry, I spent 20+ years in the tech world, helping CEOs scale their businesses and leading the People/Culture function across many high-growth companies. We’ve all heard about the iconic companies (Google, Apple, etc) that set the bar for building great cultures. I firmly believe that engaging your teams towards a common purpose starts at the top, with leaders authentically embracing a people-first culture. Actions (not words) is where the culture-building journey begins….

I decided to switch gears from “Tech to Taste” and started a new flavor company Sachili.com. Our purpose? To take consumers on a global flavor joy ride that is clean, convenient, and guaranteed to ignite your taste buds. You can find Sachili products at Canadian retailers plus Amazon (CA and US). 2024 will represent a growth year in the US market with a focus on food services. Excited to support (and expand) Start-up CPG’s community here in Canada (eh:))!

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