RangeMe’s journey isn’t a sole mission, but a collaborative one.

I’ve always loved going to trade shows, particularly food shows when I have the chance to walkaround and taste amazing creations. My favourite booths are those where I can stop and talk to the owners, founders, or creators of the products. Their knowledge and energy are infectious, and you can just tell how much of their life and their being goes into creating an incredible product for market.

bare at Expo West 2016

bare at Expo West 2016

Since launching the RangeMe platform, I love nothing more than going to a trade show and seeing RangeMe customers exhibiting (some pics are below!). I love meeting them face-to-face and learning more about their offering, hearing firsthand about their successes and their challenges, and understanding how RangeMe has helped or can further help them on their journey to success. For retail buyers, with whom I work very intimately, trade shows are an important part of their product discovery mix, a place they can go and meet the suppliers face-to-face, touch, feel, try, and even taste these products. Trade shows are a place to meet, connect, shake hands, and collaborate.

For me personally, the recent Expo West was just the most incredible experience, given that I love healthy organic foods and products. Held in Los Angeles, this trade show was an explosion of everything I love under one roof–healthy offerings, new products, and collaboration. Professionally, it was a fantastic way to squeeze in multiple meetings with key stakeholders on the supplier, retailer, broker, and wholesaler sides, and of course media.

My time at Expo West was hugely enjoyable. The cocktail reception on Thursday night of the Expo, hosted by Circle Up, an investment fund which helps fund emerging CGP products, and recent partner of RangeMe, gave me the chance to meet interesting people like Max Goldberg from livingmaxwell.com. He is hugely ingrained in the organic USA market and was called an “organic sensation” by The New York Times and named “one of the nation’s leading organic food experts” by Shape Magazine. What I find most interesting about him is his personal journey to change his life and eat clean which enabled him to quit antidepressants after an 11-year dependence. I also had the opportunity to meet with some of RangeMe’s Australian retail partners who were there scouting for innovation–and of course the chance to shake hands and have meetings with people from all over the country in one setting, and all with the common goal of supporting and increasing the growth of the natural and specialty industry in the US market.

Hanging out with Modern Oats at Expo West 2016

The organic and natural market in the US is leading the world in terms of innovation. The availability of organic products is now mainstream. They are no longer limited to traditional sources but available in over 20,000 natural food stores. Nearly three out of four grocery stores in the US carry organic products. In fact, most leading retailers have a strategy to increase their footprint of natural and organic shelf space in the US because they see that’s what is driving category growth. Brands that are emerging at scale are small to medium size brands, launched commonly by entrepreneurs who are passionate about their product, their offering, and often the cause associated with their offering. They are achieving great success in the market because most of these products are on trend, meeting a consumer need, and constantly innovating (and at speed!).

“Trade shows are a place to meet, connect, shake hands, and collaborate.”What was so intriguing to me at Expo West (and from speaking to exhibitors) was the number of VCs that were working the show floor–one of RangeMe’s suppliers said she was more inundated with investors than buyers. This is not surprising as the industry is projected to witness an increasing number of mergers and acquisitions along with expansion plans of various major players to cater to the exponentially growing demand for organic foods. In fact just recently I was excited to hear about one of these success stories from two brothers whom I’ve recently had the pleasure to meet. The Brothers founded Veev, an organic liquor line, about 9 years ago. Having both worked as investment bankers at Goldman Sachs they participated in deals involving large multinationals such as Procter & Gamble (PG) acquiring smaller on trend brands. They decided to take the leap from the world of investment banking into entrepreneurship and launch Veev, a first-to-market, organic, alcoholic, better-for-you beverage made with acai berries.

From the beginning the brothers made a commitment to donate $1 from every bottle sold back to help fund Sambazon’s nonprofit sustainable-farming project meant to protect the Brazilian rainforest. I was so pleased to hear from one of the founders and learn that they were acquired by Luxco, a leading producer, importer, and marketer of beverage alcohol products!

Walking the show floor at Expo West, and hearing about all of these amazing new products really hitting their stride reminds me that RangeMe’s journey isn’t a sole mission, but a collaborative one. We travel the road of new products right alongside suppliers and buyers, and there is collective pride and excitement when success comes.

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