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A majority of founders and leadership in growing companies in the food and beverage space have reported that they expect to see growth in 2020.  Even after the volatility and challenges of 2020 – the food and beverage industry as a whole is looking forward to 2021 to see what products will impact and hit with consumers and the marketplace.  Join us to explore and examine that “growth” as part of our Founders Series for 2021 – the conversation that founders and leadership from growing companies across the midwest want to be a part of!

The Founders Series has been re-imaged for 2021, in partnership with Foodbevy and CA Fortune, we are looking to industry experts, a wide range of successful and growing founders, and our own partners to provide hands-on learning opportunities around each of our primary topic areas.  Each quarterly event will feature a brief opening panel discussion to examine where we are as an industry for the quarter and how the main topic area relates to each of us.  And then we will break-out into roundtable or workshop sections led by our partners and panelists for in-depth conversation and problem solving.  Join us to explore how your peers and industry can help you tackle growth in 2021.



*As always, Founders and CFBN Members attend these events for FREE.  Reach out by dropping us an email if you are looking to be connected!


The events of 2021 may have caused some fundamental changes in how we interact with and approach products as consumers and eaters.  But, they also spurred some tremendous innovation amongst developing and growing CPG brands across the globe.  Join us for the second event in the 2021 Founders Series to talk INNOVATION.  In 2021 and beyond, we expect food and drink companies to create mental and emotional wellbeing solutions, deliver on new value needs, expand the plant-based product landscape, and use brands to celebrate people’s identities.  What other innovations are out there and how are companies pushing forward…join us to discuss.

The Founders Series offers two exciting opportunities in one event.  Join us for a 30-minute opening panel featuring all of our speakers and guests.  And then turn on your camera and join the conversation in our break-out sessions featuring pairs of our featured speakers and guests.  This is a great opportunity to really dive into the topic and meet your peers.

We are excited to welcome Branchfood as a partner for this event in the Founders Series!


  • 11:00 AM:  General Welcome (Alan Reed, CFBN)
  • 11:05 AM – 11:35 AM:  Opening Presentation/Conversation
  • 11:35 AM – 12:00 PM:  Workshopping/Networking Breakouts
  • 11:45 AM – 12:00 PM:  1:1 Individual Networking Open (15 mins)


Lauren AbdaFounder & CEO, Branchfood

Lauren Abda is the Founder and CEO of Branchfood, the largest community of food entrepreneurs and startups in New England, and Co-founder at Branch Venture Group, an angel network for investment in early-stage food startups. Prior to Branchfood, Lauren consulted for foodtech businesses in Boston and San Francisco, worked as an analyst for Salt Venture Partners LLC, a venture capital firm, focused on food startups, targeting content, commerce, and technology, and wrote reports on international food safety development initiatives on behalf of the Agriculture and Commodities division at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. She has a Masters in Food  Policy and Applied Nutrition from the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Food Science from the University of Vermont.

Benjamina BollagFounder & CEO, Higher Steaks

Benjamina is the founder and CEO of Higher Steaks, a venture backed cultivated meat startup. Prior to Higher Steaks, she co-founded a London-based B2B electronics company selling to FTSE500 companies. She also worked in 3D printing, fragrance and flavouring, marketing of FMCG and holds a Master of Chemical Engineering from Imperial College.

Nadine HabayebCo-Founder & CEO, Bohana

Nadine Habayeb is the Co-Founder + CEO of Bohana, a nutritious popped water lily seed snack.  Bohana is the first brand to introduce this ancient Ayurvedic ingredient to the US market.  Prior to Bohana, Nadine built her career in Brand Marketing, PR & Communications in the fields of Fashion and Hospitality between the Middle East, Europe and the US. She is an MBA graduate of IE Business School and an extension fellow from Babson College – Franklin W. Olin Graduate School of Business.  Nadine is a founding member of the Welfare Association for Youth and is a World Economic Forum Global Shaper.  Nadine is currently expanding Bohana’s retail footprint and spreading its mission of ‘Free Spirit Snacking’.

Courtney Boyd MyersCo-Founder & CEO, Akua

Courtney Boyd Myers (CEO, CMO of AKUA) is an entrepreneur, environmentalist, and writer. Prior to launching AKUA, she helped build the Summit Community, a global network of founders, creatives, and innovators. Previously, she helped market companies such as Four Sigmatic and Unframed Ice Cream. She began her career as a journalist at Forbes Magazine and The Next Web and has been recognized as one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business. She currently serves as an advisor to GreenWave.


Jordan BucknerFounder – Foodbevy & Founder – TeaSquares

Jordan Buckner is on a mission to help food and beverage companies build successful businesses, and launched to create a pipeline for companies to grow from startup to scale by reducing the resource and network gaps.  Jordan also co-founded TeaSquares, a line of superfood energy bars designed to help people stay focused and alert so they could achieve their passions. 

Steve Gaither, Chief Marketing Officer,CA Fortune

Steve Gaither is the Chief Marketing Officer at C.A. Fortune, and leads the C.A. Branding pillar. Founded as JB Chicago, C.A. Branding is an integrated marketing agency whose clients range from Fortune 500, middle-market, to emerging brands.  As a mentor at the Good Food Business Accelerator, ICNC, the Food Foundry, Chicagoland Food and Bev, and The Hatchery, his relationships with entrepreneurs led him to co-found the Windy City Troublemakers, an early-stage food meetup in Chicago. Steve was formerly a partner in Spiral Sun Ventures and Windy City Food Brands, where he and his fellow CPG experts provided the capital and go-to market strategies that help brands accelerate their growth. Steve graduated from Ball State University with a degree in Architecture and Planning. He resides in Munster, Indiana with his wife and three children.

Event Details
04. 21. 2021
11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Free – $10