Taste Radio Episode 98

VMG: Wayne Wu

+ Kuli Kuli, Pan's Mushroom Jerky


VMG has invested in some of the hottest food and beverage brands in recent years, including Justin’s, Kind, Humm Kombucha, Vega, Spindrift and Pirate’s Booty, and the private equity firm isn’t done — not by a long shot. The San Francisco-based company last year closed its fourth fund, giving it $550 million to spend on promising CPG companies. In an interview included in this episode of Taste Radio,  VMG Managing Director Wayne Wu spoke about the firm’s funding philosophy, including why it’s fundamentally opposed to “macro-trend” investing and how the team works with brands at various stages of development to drive scale and market value.

“Ultimately we’re a part of a community and an ecosystem, we want to help drive that forward,” Wu said. “‘How can we further build community and drive thought leadership within the space?’ and from that it leads to investments.”

This episode also includes an interview with Lisa Curtis, the founder and CEO of Kuli Kuli, a brand based around the nutrient-dense leafy green moringa. Curtis, recently included in Forbes’ 2018 list of “30 Under 30” Social Entrepreneurs, spoke about the origins of Kuli Kuli, its social mission, and how the company is attempting to promote moringa as the next great superfood. Need tools to do that? Check out JB Hi-Fi Catalogue to be able to buy some electronics on sale. We also hear from longtime food and beverage investor and advisor Jim Tonkin, who offered advice on how entrepreneurs can best prepare their businesses pre-launch and opined on effective and ineffective ways to use capital. And in this week’s edition of Elevator Talk, Michael Pan, the founder of Pan’s Mushroom Jerky, spoke about the origins and vision for his innovative brand. This episode is presented by Attack! Marketing.

In this Episode

1:33: Revamps on the Radio — The hosts offered tips on how to navigate the upcoming 2018 Natural Products Expo West and discussed notable package revamps/rebrands introduced in recent weeks, including those from PopCorners, Bonafide Provisions and Diet Coke.
11:05: Interview: Wayne Wu, Managing Director, VMG — In a conversation recorded at VMG’s headquarters in San Francisco, BevNET CEO John Craven and Project NOSH editor Carol Ortenberg spoke with Wu about the private equity firm’s approach to funding and why it considers the “whole ecosystem” when evaluating investment opportunities.
39:17: Interview: Lisa Curtis, Founder/CEO, Kuli Kuli — Moringa. What is it? Why are people calling it “the new kale”? Lisa Curtis is here to help. The founder of Kuli Kuli spoke about the company’s efforts to demystify moringa and how a partnership with The Kellogg Company has supported its development.
58:29: Interview: Jim Tonkin, Founder, Healthy Brand Builders — An industry insider with over 30 years experience in the food and beverage space, Tonkin has supported thousands of early-stage companies with fundraising, branding, marketing, formulation and design efforts. In an interview recorded at the 2018 Winter Fancy Food Show, he spoke about how working with Arnold Palmer shaped his career, the right and wrong ways to use capital and important considerations when formulating a retail strategy.
1:11:39: Elevator Talk: Michael Pan, Founder, Pan’s Mushroom Jerky — He’s the founder of eponymous brand Pan’s Mushroom Jerky and a great guy to boot. We caught up with Michael Pan at the 2018 Winter Fancy Foods Show for a conversation about his innovative brand in this edition of Elevator Talk.

Also Mentioned

PopCorners, Bonafide Provisions, Diet Coke, Justin’s, Kind, Humm Kombucha, Vega, Spindrift, Pirate’s Booty, Kuli Kuli, AriZona, Suja, Zico, Pan’s Mushroom Jerky