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Product Accelerator SKU Announces the Brands for First Petcare Cohort

The four brands will receive the resources and relationships they require to become breakout successes.

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(PRESS RELEASE) AUSTIN, TX – SKU, the trailblazing consumer product accelerator, this month launches its first Petcare Track and a cohort centered on Women & BIPOC founders’ brands. The four brands selected for each cohort showcase creativity, passion and true innovation – from functional foods to ease painful periods to hip-hop inspired pet treats.

The petcare cohort includes D.R.E.A.M. Pet Food, 5 Element Food Therapy, Innovative Pet Lab and Pupsentials. The Women & BIPOC Track includes Blossom Essentials, Neeshi, Phreshly and The Humble Seed.

The 12-week cohort kicks off Aug. 24th. The founders and mentors will celebrate the culmination of the tracks with a Showcase Pitch event in Austin on Nov. 14th.

“I am most looking forward to networking with some of the best and brightest in the CPG space and forging meaningful connections and collaborations,” says Sarah Meis, co-founder of The Humble Seed. “My dream for The Humble Seed is to disrupt the snack category so your whole family can snack happy and healthy.”

SKU works by equipping startups with the tools they need to succeed. Startup companies receive the resources and relationships that they require to become breakout successes and household names. During the 12-week program, SKU surrounds founders with a customized curriculum focused on the entire CPG ecosystem, advanced operations support, and access to funding.

While the curriculum is best in class, the true stars of the show are the mentors – a dream team of industry leaders, successful founders, and investment luminaries. Each brand is surrounded by a hand-picked team of mentors who guide them through the 12-week program, all focused on helping these startups successfully scale.
“While working with SKU seasoned mentors, industry experts, and networking with like-minded entrepreneurs, we hope to supercharge growth, gain essential skills, and position Innovative Pet Lab for long-term success,” said Jaime Smith, chief executive at Innovative Pet Lab.

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Both cohorts will be hybrid programs with both online and in person programming – a model SKU first adopted during the onset of the pandemic that also gives founders across the nation access to SKU without geographic barriers.

SKU’s mentors are what truly sets the accelerator apart. Brands are surrounded by a customized mentor team hand picked to meet their needs. SKU’s mentor community is a who’s who in the CPG industry and includes successful entrepreneurs, investors and top executives from some of the most successful consumer product companies including Coca-Cola, 7-Eleven and Target. They all are united in their desire to help founders successfully scaling these companies.

SKU’s track record speaks volumes and includes such brands as Siete Foods, EPIC Provisions, and DUDE Wipes. Of its impressive alumni lineup, over 80 percent are thriving to this day.

The four Petcare Brands are:

  • D.R.E.A.M. Pet Food: D.R.E.A.M. (Dogs Rule Everything Around Me) was founded by Jaime Cooper and Paul Paige, who grew up loving hip-hop music. They noticed there were no brands that represented the people and culture they grew up loving. Leveraging their knowledge and experiences from the pet food industry, they worked to curate a pet treat line consisting of the finest ingredients. The name was inspired by an iconic hip-hop song.
  • 5 Element Food Therapy: 5 Element Food Therapy, founded by Sharon Tuggle, offers fresh whole food supplements to add protein, fat and mineral rich organic vegetables to a pet’s diet. 5 Element got its start when her dog Hoochie had a seizure one day while we were in at the dog parkand a week later she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was given no more than two months to live. She contacted her vet who suggested she had food therapy – a combination of protein, vegetables and herbs. Hoochie lived for nine months.
  • Innovative Pet Lab: Founded by Robert David, Betsy Redmond and Jamie Smith scientists with decades of experience in diagnostic testing – Innovative Pet Lab is transforming pet care with advanced home testing. Identify current and underlying health issues and evaluate whether diet and lifestyle are working with a simple at home stool collection. Easy to understand digital reports and targeted recommendations provide a path to improve overall pet health.
  • Pupsentials: Pupsentials creates hyper-detailed custom pet embroidery apparel. Started by Kyndall and Jake Chambers. Pupsentials wants to redefine what it means to be pet obsessed with a wide range of items – from hats to fanny packs. Pupsentials has been featured on Oprah’s Fav list, Goop and Yahoo.

The four brands in the Women & BIPOC Track are:

  • Blossom Essentials, founded by Sarah Vilenskiy, creates clean, transformative, and effective face and body products for your customers with ultra-sensitive, dry, and inflamed skin. The products are cruelty free, and gentle enough for the most sensitive skin. Blossom sells products for the face, body, hair and scalp.
  • Neeshi, founded by Gita Vellanki, makes functional foods based on the principles of Ayurveda and natural food healing to ease heavy and painful periods and PMS. The products offer a balance of micro and macronutrients to keep your body nourished for happier periods. Product offerings include Chocolate Mini Cakes, Brownie Batter, Low Sugar Spread, Banana Bread Muffins and Dark Chocolate Banana Pumpkin Seed Muffins.
  • Phreshly, founded in 2020 by Paul Owusu and Ama Marfo during the pandemic, is a premium canned cocktail based in Atlanta using locally sourced ingredients and premium spirits. Phreshly leverages West African flavors, Southern cuisine, and culture for premium taste and experience. Flavors include Bay Lemonade (bourbon, strawberry and lavender) and G’iddem (rum, blueberry and lemongrass).
  • The Humble Seed was founded by Sarah Meis, Steve Shaffer and Jennifer Mancuso, a team of CPG veterans who worked together to create a healthier and tastier cracker. Made with a six-seed blend — sunflower, flax, pumpkin, sesame, chia and hemp – the grain-free crackers are available in Sea Salt, Garlic & Herb and Everything flavors.
About SKU

SKU was founded in 2011 by lawyer Shari Wynne Ressler and serial entrepreneur Clayton Christopher, founder of Sweet Leaf Tea and Deep Eddy Vodka, with the mission of accelerating CPGs. It has been a catalyst in establishing Austin as a CPG powerhouse.
For information contact: Michelle Breyer michelle@sku.is 512-740-1082

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