Natural Products Expo East Pitch Slam Sponsored by 301 Inc & Green Spoon Sales
Approved 34

Join us for the Natural Products Expo East Pitch Slam competition in partnership with Naturally Network!

8 pre-selected brands from the Naturally Network will take the stage for a shot to win the Grand Prize: a FREE booth at Expo West 2024 & over $30K in New Hope Network services! This exciting, fast-paced event features pitches from standout emerging brands and Q&A with a rock star judging panel.

Come for the pitch; stay for the celebration. Together we’ll share a toast to the incredible innovation in our industry!

Resources: Wednesday_Pitch Slam_Part1.pdf
Wednesday_Pitch Slam_Part2.pdf

Sponsored by


Date & Time
Wednesday September 20th, 2023 4:00pm EDT
End Date & Time
Wednesday September 20th, 2023 7:00pm EDT
Grand Hall Stage, Level 200, Grand Hall
Level 200, Grand Hall Stage
Philadelphia, PA
United States
Alyssa Vescio
SVP, Merchandising, Whole Foods
As the Senior Vice President of Merchandising, Center Store, Alyssa has responsibility for Grocery, Wellness, Beauty, Local Merchandising, Merchandise Presentation, and Merchandise Execution. Alyssa celebrates what makes Whole Foods Market so special — unique products, industry leading quality standards, incredible supplier partners, and talented team members — and pushes our growth by continuing to advance our Merchandising capabilities and deliver operationally-sound programs. 

Alyssa is known as an all-in, purpose drive leader who values authenticity, connectivity, and collective strength. She aims to create a culture that inspires individuals to be their best in service of the greater good. 

Alyssa became SVP in November of 2020, after 3 years leading Wellness and Beauty and almost 20 years in Merchandising. Her experience spans product categories and merchandising disciplines including product selection, supplier partnership, promotional planning, pricing, presentation, and exclusive brands. Her passions for purpose, people, and product drive her forward in this role. 
Azul Couzens
CEO, ¡Ya Oaxaca!
Bio coming soon!
Ben Fishman
Board Member, Regenified 
Ben Fishman is a natural team builder, connector, experienced investor and entrepreneur with extensive experience in the food, consumer packaged goods, agriculture, and financial services sectors.  In food, Ben’s experience covers the entire value chain from upstream on-farm agriculture, to manufacturing and logistics, to consumer and retail companies. He is currently the Board Chairman of Regenified, LLC, a leading certification and verification company driving the growth of regenerative agriculture and the adoption of certified products.  

Almost 20 years of his career was spent at Continental Grain Company, a private food and agriculture operating and investing company. Ben started as an Analyst and rose to the position of Managing Director and Investment Committee member, having founded and led both the private equity and venture capital investment groups.  Ben has established investment groups in multiple sectors and geographies, including helping to launch BFG Partners, an early stage, high growth consumer products investment firm where he remains an Advisor.  Ben currently works as an independent consultant and advisor working on issues of food, agriculture, climate, and economic development.   

Additional experiences include co-founding The Grow Network, an educational technology company sold to The McGraw-Hill Companies and a board member of numerous private and public companies including Wholesome Sweeteners, The Coastal Companies, The Chia Co, Grandpoint Bank, K-Mac, Cicis, Checkmate, and others.  A cum laude graduate of Princeton University, Ben was a four-time Second Team All American Squash player and two-time team captain.  Ben is a Board & Investment Committee Member of First Bancshares, Inc., a member of The Collegiate School’s alumni counsel, a Board Member of Alico, Inc and a member of the Operating and Investment committees of the Brooklyn Public Library. He is also He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Elizabeth, and two sons.
Checo Diaz
Founder, Gear Hugger
Bio coming soon!
Cynthia Tice
Founder, Lily's Sweets
Cynthia Tice got her start in the natural foods industry before green juice was cool. She opened a natural foods grocery store, Center Foods, in Philadelphia in 1978, and owned and operated that store for 20 years. As supermarkets realized the staying power of natural and organic foods, Tice began consulting retailers on how to launch or build out their natural and organic offerings. She also began advising emerging brands looking to bring their products to market.  In 2011, Tice recognized the opportunity for BFY Low Sugar products, and began to work on a recipe for chocolate, her favorite food.  She launched Lily's Sweets at Whole Foods stores nationwide in March of 2012. Today, Lily's Sweets remains a leader in the no added sugar movement.   

Cynthia stepped away from the daily running of Lily’s in 2018, which was later purchased by Hershey’s in June 2021.   She spends her time working with Beyond Brands, Naturally Network and other nonprofits, mentoring young entrepreneurs, and savoring time spent with family and friends.
Danny Walsh
Founder & Chief Enthusiast, Peak State Coffee
Danny Walsh is the Co-Founder & CEO of Peak State, where they have introduced Coffee with Benefits. Peak State combines highest quality, sustainably grown coffee with adaptogens for daily wellness. Peak State is the first whole bean adaptogen coffee. Passionate about healthy living and outdoor activites, Danny was inspired to launch into natural food to build a healthier and more sustainable future. A former product manager, he holds a Bachelor of Science and an M.B.A. in Sustainable Business both from Northeastern University. Outside of work, you can find him drinking coffee, rock climbing, skiing, or trail running in Colorado with his dog Tuckerman.
Doug Helbig
COO, Greenspoon Sales
Bio coming soon!
Jake Achterhoff
Executive Director, AcreMade
Bio coming soon!
Juan Stewart
Founder, Frescos Naturales
Bio coming soon!
Katrina Tolentino
Executive Director, Naturally Network
Bio coming soon!
Kristin Fracassi
Founder & CEO, Root & Splendor
Kristin Fracassi is the founder/owner of Root and Splendor.  As a mom of 4 boys Kristin set out to find safe, yet effective ways to remove the odors and stains from her kids clothes.  Conventional brands couldn't meet her "safe" requirements, and she was disappointed to discover that natural brands failed both requirements.  Wanting better, Root and Splendor was born.  Root and Splendor's bioactive and plant-based laundry essentials are powerfully effective, safe for people and planet, and in sustainable packaging.  Garnering premium performance results in independent lab testing, customers are ecstatic with the results of having clean clothes without any of the harmful ingredients.  Root and Splendor is available at natural markets, such as Jimbo's, online, and nationwide at circular refill stores.
Lila Sullivan
President & Co-Founder, Flourish Plant Care
Lila Sullivan and Kate Ferguson co-founded Flourish in 2022 to revolutionize plant care for the next generation with sustainable and effective products, starting with their organic houseplant fertilizer. The pair have been friends since high school, where they both competed in the national science fair circuit. Given this background, it's no surprise that science, sustainability, and efficacy are the core tenants of the brand. Flourish takes cues from cutting-edge innovations in organic agriculture and makes them available for the houseplant consumer in a novel and beautiful way. Flourish Plant Food is organic, all-purpose, and made entirely from food waste, but unlike other fertilizer brands, it smells refreshingly minty. The innovative formulation is packed with microbes that help build a healthy plant from the roots up.  

Flourish Plant Food is available DTC at and in over 150 stores nationwide, including renowned nurseries and plant stores and will soon be launching into the natural grocery channel. Flourish was recognized as one of the most innovative brands at the top plant tradeshow, TPIE, in 2023. Kate and Lila were also recently honored as Forbes 30 Under 30 recipients in Austin, TX. With plans to launch additional products and grow significantly in 2023, Flourish is cultivating growth in the spaces that matter most!  
Megan Reuszer
Director, PearlRock Partners
Megan has 20 years of CPG experience, spending the first seven years at The Hershey Company and the remaining years at dunnhumbyUSA/84.51°.  She joined PearlRock Partners in October 2020, which is a joint venture between Kroger/84.51° and a private equity partner.  At PearlRock, Megan oversees their Portfolio companies and is the liaison to the Kroger Merchandising teams with over 15 years of experience working with Kroger.  She utilizes her deep expertise in merchandising, strategy development, along with customer science and insights to guide and strengthen the next great consumer brands by leveraging the power of data and Kroger Merchandising. 
Michelle Wilton
Co-Founder, Date Better Snacks
Bio coming soon!
Sherry Frey
VP Total Wellness, NielsonIQ
Bio coming soon!
Tauri Laws-Phillips
Partner, TxO Program Director, Andreessen Horowitz
Bio coming soon!
Taylor Sankovich
Principal, Business Development, 301 Inc.
Bio coming soon!
Patricia "Trish" Thomas
CEO, Every Body Eats
Trish Thomas, a serial entrepreneur and 4x founder, is the Co-Founder and Chief Eating Officer of Whole & Free Foods. An early innovator, Trish founded and sold her first company four years after graduating from college. In the ‘90s, she built the first safe online community and a decade later had scaled transmedia entertainment properties to 100 countries in 65 languages. Trish has consulted on digital strategies for IBM, Dreamworks, Hasbro, Redbox, and Nissan to name a few. Trish pioneered a collegiate curriculm on how to improve the psychological resilience of founders as a means of improving start-up success rates. Currently, she is faculty teaching her entrepreneurship model at Northwestern University, and was the former Director of Entrepreneurship & Innovation at Lake Forest College. A food-loving, vibrant, connector of people, Trish is mom to six boys and is extraordinarily grateful when someone else makes dinner – especially if every body can eat it!
Peetachai (Neil) Dejkraisak
CEO, Jasberry
Neil is a CEO and co-founder of Jasberry Co., Ltd., a social enterprise that was established with a mission to alleviate the problem of small-scale farmers poverty. Jasberry solves the problem of farmers poverty through innovative organic products with a global appeal, starting with the world’s first superfood rice, Jasberry® Superfood rice. Jasberry currently works with over 2,500 small-scale farmers households in the Northeastern part of 
Thailand helping them to increase their income by several folds by managing the entire agricultural value chain. Jasberry has been recognized globally for its third-party verified social impact, some of the awards that Jasberry and Neil have won include:
• sofi™ 2023 Best New Product Award in Beans, Grains, Rice & Mixes Division for Jasberry® Organic Superfood Rice
• Fancy New York Pitch Slam competition 2023
• Certified B-Corp. Jasberry was included in the ‘Best for the World’ B-Corp list for 3 years in a row which shows its commitment to social & environmental impact and corporate governance transparency.
• An “Unreasonable Fellow.” Unreasonable is an organization and private global network dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs positioned to bend history in the right direction.
• Awarded the Meaningful Business 100. Recognized as 1 of the 100 inspirational global leaders that combine purpose and profit to make meaningful changes in the world to help achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
• Winner of the Chivas Venture 2017, a competition to find the best social enterprise in the world from 30 countries.
• ‘Spark the Fire’ Champion at Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2016 organized by the US Government in Silicon Valley, USA