CPG Troublemakers-logo

CPG Troublemakers

Business & Economics Podcasts

This is the CPG Troublemakers, the place where brands and makers, food and beverage nerds, and investors all gather to cause a little bit of mischief. We welcome industry leaders, white space thinkers, and channel partners to come together to turn problems into opportunities or at the very least have a little fun along the way.


United States


This is the CPG Troublemakers, the place where brands and makers, food and beverage nerds, and investors all gather to cause a little bit of mischief. We welcome industry leaders, white space thinkers, and channel partners to come together to turn problems into opportunities or at the very least have a little fun along the way.



Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Entrepreneur Shelley Gupta on Startup Funding, Pitching, and Mentorship

Shelley Gupta is the Founder and CEO of BāKIT Box, a subscription-service baking company offering culturally diverse recipes through baking kits with pre-measured ingredients brimming with global flavors. Shelley conceived the idea during the pandemic after realizing a gap in baking options. She began experimenting with no-fuss baking ingredients while maintaining her corporate career in marketing. Today, BāKIT is available nationwide, creating delectable cultural baking experiences for households, with features in the Chicago Tribune, Bake Magazine, and CNET. In this episode... Do you have an innovative business concept you want to realize? Embarking on an entrepreneurial venture could help you do so. However, the journey can seem intimidating and overwhelming for innovators uninformed about where to begin. CPG entrepreneur Shelley Gupta explains that besides having a business plan, entrepreneurs should secure funding for startup costs. Joining early-stage funding organizations and entering pitch and award-based competitions are some ways to navigate the arduous process of searching for investors. Shelley highly recommends practicing your pitch with a network of supporters to make pitching experiences increasingly comfortable. Pitching opportunities can be as short as one to two minutes, meaning that your elevator pitch should include necessary facts and your concept’s market potential. Additionally, Shelley explains it is helpful to research judges involved in entered competitions to learn the criteria they prioritize. Above all, obtain a mentor. Entrepreneurship, on its demanding side, can be lonely and stressful. A reputable mentor listens to your concerns, gives honest feedback, and allows you to be vulnerable and transparent about challenging experiences. In this episode of the CPG Troublemakers, Aalap Shah interviews Shelley Gupta, Founder and CEO of BāKIT Box, about startup advice for inexperienced entrepreneurs. Shelley discusses the lessons she learned as a new business owner, startup funding options, the art of pitching, and why it is essential for entrepreneurs to have mentors.


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Creating Jobs One Cookie at a Time

Shahira Marei is the Founder and CEO of The Dirty Cookie, a gourmet dessert company renowned for its one-of-a-kind cookie shot glasses. The concept was inspired by Shahira's favorite dessert — cookies and milk. Having worked as a project manager at Boeing, she admits she is not the Betty Crocker type. After witnessing poverty during a trip to her native Egypt, her father's words inspired her to create Shot for Education, a program supporting education-focused nonprofits that provides resources, tools, and access to education for children in underserved communities. In 2021, Shahira opened the first international franchise in Egypt. Since its inception, The Dirty Cookie has been featured on the Today Show, Good Morning America, Shark Tank, the Food Network, and the Cooking Channel and recognized by Forbes as one of the Next 1000. In this episode… Have you dreamed of being a business owner but don’t know where to start? Perhaps you’re struggling to scale because of a lack of experience. Starting a business is difficult, but the challenges, self-doubt, and mental stress do not end once established. That’s why entrepreneur Shahira Marei recommends finding a community of peers. Having peer support provides knowledge and expertise to avoid making mistakes early on. Furthermore, they share resources and can refer you to a network of entrepreneurs, investors, and potential customers. In addition to peers, seek mentors through acquaintances or platforms like LinkedIn who will encourage and hold you accountable. Mentors also furnish tools and coping mechanisms to help you manage stress and anxiety. Entrepreneurship can be isolating, but having a village to depend on offers a social connection and an outlet to grieve insecurities. In this episode of the CPG Troublemakers, Aalap Shah welcomes Shahira Marei, Founder and CEO of The Dirty Cookie, to discuss insights and learnings about creating a dream business. Shahira shares The Dirty Cookie’s origin story, why she transitioned from a brick-and-mortar to an e-commerce store, and advice for aspiring and established entrepreneurs.


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Heather K. Terry of GoodSam Foods Does CPG Right in a Changing Economy and Planet

Heather K. Terry is the Co-founder and CEO of GoodSam Foods, a sugar-free, equitable, and B-certified chocolate company that partners with global farmers. Her first entrepreneurial venture was as the Founder and CEO of NibMor, an organic vegan chocolate company that she later sold. Heather has over 10 years of experience in the CPG industry, having held leadership positions at S.W. Basics and BeyondBrands. Heather's interest in natural foods developed after witnessing her father's struggle with terminal lymphoma. She is a thought leader on natural products, a CPG mentor, an angel investor, and the author of From Broadway to Wall Street: Cautionary Tales of an Unlikely Entrepreneur. Heather is also the host of Scaling with Soul, a podcast where she shares her business knowledge and experience. In this episode… Equitable food companies are businesses committed to providing healthy, affordable food to everyone regardless of income or social status. In this economic climate, how can food companies produce safe and edible products and earn a profit? Heather K. Terry, a chocolatier and CPG entrepreneur, recommends using a good sam supply network. This type of supply chain allows sourcing ingredients from local farmers and producers. Through these efforts, companies pay the workers a fair and livable wage, building a strong economy. Equitable food companies benefit the environment by producing food sustainably and reducing waste. In this episode of the CPG Troublemakers, Steve Gaither interviews Heather K. Terry, Co-founder and CEO of GoodSam Foods, about the benefits of direct chain supply and regenerative agriculture. Heather addresses her introduction to the CPG industry, the inspiration for creating GoodSam, and the challenges the company experienced before going to market.


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

How Ayeshah Abuelhiga Is Paving the Way for First-Generation Founders, One Meal at a Time

Ayeshah Abuelhiga is the Founder and CEO of the Mason Dixie Biscuit Company, a frozen biscuit brand committed to producing food made with fresh, clean, and natural ingredients. To fulfill her goal of transforming comfort food for the better, she left her corporate job to open a small restaurant. As an emerging food brand owner, Ayeshah has been named the Washington Business Journal’s Top 10 Innovator in 2017, voted a Top Millennial to Watch in 2014, and the Number 1 Food & Beverage Stunner by Industree DC. Prior to founding Mason Dixie, Ayeshah worked for major fine-dining restaurants and hotels, including Passion Food Hospitality and Fairmont Hotels. She also consulted and managed marketing and product development projects for Fortune 500 companies, such as Audi, Microsoft, and Toshiba. In this episode… The consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry is highly competitive and requires specialized knowledge. However, it’s constantly seeking new and innovative products to bring to the market. So, how can emerging food brands get the attention of retail buyers? Ayeshah Abuelhiga, founding partner of a frozen breakfast brand, recommends thinking about these four principles when developing a new food product: Is the food edible? Would you eat it? Would you feed it to your children? And do you think consumers would be excited to try it? The CPG industry is ever-evolving, and new brand owners shouldn’t be intimidated by established brands. In fact, it can be beneficial to create relationships with well-established labels and have prepared questions. Attending CPG conferences such as Natural Products East and Natural Products West is also a strategy to consider for marketing products and networking. In this episode of the CPG Troublemakers, Aalap Shah welcomes Ayeshah Abuelhiga, Founder and CEO of Mason Dixie Foods, to the podcast to discuss breaking into the CPG space and paving the way for first-generation entrepreneurs. Ayeshah shares how to pitch products to retail buyers, the evolution of DTC and how it complements CPG, and building a positive company culture.


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Overcoming Doubts and Doubters: The Story of an Accidental Entrepreneur With Hint Founder, Kara Goldin

Kara Goldin is the Founder of Hint Inc., a beverage company most known for Hint Water, an award-winning unsweetened water with hints of fruit. Kara has been named one of InStyle’s Badass 50, Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business, Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs, Fortune's Most Innovative Women in Food & Drink, and EY Entrepreneur of the Year for Northern California. She is an active speaker, writer, and host of her podcast, The Kara Goldin Show, where she interviews founders, entrepreneurs, and other disruptors across various industries. Kara is the author of the best-selling book, Undaunted: Overcoming Doubts and Doubters. In this episode… Entrepreneurs rise when they identify a problem and create a solution others claim is beneficial. But the most successful business leaders rise to the top because of their passion — which is vital in the industry. Emerging entrepreneurs may encounter opposition when starting their business venture. Passion plays the role of keeping entrepreneurs focused on their goals and finding the right people to bring along on their journey. Business leader Kara Goldin encountered her share of naysayers when she began her career as an entrepreneur. Although she had discovered a gap in the market for her product, she found it difficult to find supporters to help kick-start her company. While the skeptics could have dismantled her goals, her passion kept her dedicated to her mission. Eventually, she found the right people who believed in her product — and her company is flourishing. Her story inspires fellow entrepreneurs who are overcoming their own challenges. In this episode of the CPG Troublemakers, host Aalap Shah welcomes Kara Goldin, Founder of Hint Inc., to discuss overcoming doubts and doubters. Kara discusses her path to entrepreneurship, the inspiration for Hint, and how she turned naysayers into partners and consumers. Kara also imparts her advice to emerging entrepreneurs.


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

The Journey From Buyer to Brand With Tuyyo Founder Stefanie Garcia Turner

Stefanie Garcia Turner is the Founder and CEO of Tuyyo, a modern line of Latin-American foods and beverages consisting of real ingredients. Stefanie’s inspiration behind her brand is rooted in the foods she grew up with and her passion for natural foods. As a former forager for Whole Foods, Stefanie has worked with several emerging brands, learning both the good and the bad sides of food retail. In this episode… As a food consumer, have you ever wished or wanted to make changes to some of your favorite food products? Maybe you’re loyal to a certain brand, but you would prefer it to have healthier ingredients. Or, maybe you just want to put a different spin on it because times have changed. As a consumer shopping in some of her favorite Hispanic food stores, business leader Stefanie Garcia Turner noticed not much had changed in that market since her time shopping for Latin foods as a child. Wanting better food options for the people in her culture, Stefanie realized there was room for healthier and more modern changes in the Latin food market. Instead of waiting for someone else to make changes, she stepped up to the challenge. In this episode of the CPG Troublemakers, host Steve Gaither chats with the Founder and CEO of Tuyyo, Stefanie Garcia Turner. As a former culinary school student, holding a BS in restaurant and food service management, Stefanie discusses her passion for food. Along with her career journey with Whole Foods, she shares some common mistakes made by emerging brand founders, what inspired her to start Tuyyo, and how to persuade consumers to purchase your food products.


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

From Founder to Foodbevy

Jordan Buckner is the Founder of Foodbevy, an online community offering resources to help food and beverage entrepreneurs scale their businesses. As a serial entrepreneur and startup advisor, Jordan is passionate about increasing the visibility of minority-owned and women-led businesses. His name appeared on Forbes list of 30 Under 30 food and beverage entrepreneurs in 2018. Jordan graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with his master’s in business administration and architecture. In this episode… As a food lover, do you want to start a company in the food and beverage industry? What do you need to know to thrive in this space? Starting and scaling a packaged food business is challenging. As a founder in the CPG industry, Jordan Buckner faced challenges and made mistakes in building a brand that had a positive impact on the industry and consumers. The lessons Jordan learned propelled him to start Foodbevy to help CPG entrepreneurs grow their businesses by providing access to industry experts and resources. In this episode of the CPG Troublemakers, join host Steve Gaither as he chats with the Founder of Foodbevy, Jordan Buckner. Jordan explains how he was introduced to the CPG industry, the challenges of growing a retail business, and the solutions he provides for food and beverage entrepreneurs.


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Lin Jiang - Disrupting Brown Sugar and Maple!

Chinese native Lin Jiang is the Founder and CEO of Yishi Foods, an Asian-inspired breakfast food company based in Chicago. After moving to the United States, Lin began craving the porridge her mother used to prepare for her as a child. Wanting to bring flavors to the US she grew up loving, Lin set out to create a nutritious and functional breakfast option, making the morning ritual more enjoyable. Aside from being a full-time entrepreneur, Lin is completing her MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. She is the recipient of Chicago Booth’s C200 Women in Business Award. In this episode… Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yet people skip eating a balanced and nutritious breakfast. The most conventional options are not the healthiest and contain exorbitant amounts of sugar. This is what business leader Lin Jiang realized after relocating to Chicago from China. While attending college, she adopted poor eating habits. After indulging in American cuisine, she desired meals with less sugar and healthier ingredients. Remembering how much she loved porridge as a child, she shopped for American oatmeal growing frustrated with the few sugary flavors brands offered. Inspired by her Asian heritage, she created her brand focusing on diverse flavors and essential nutrients. Learn more in this episode of the CPG Troublemakers as host Steve Gaither chats with the Founder and CEO of Yishi Foods, Lin Jiang. Lin discusses what inspired her to create Yishi Foods, how her brand makes oatmeal innovative, why peer-to-peer networking is imperative, and her strategy for expanding Yishi Foods.


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Andrew Vrbas of Pacha Soap - Getting the Dirt on Conscious Capitalism

Andrew Vrbas is the Co-founder and CEO of Pacha Soap Co., a conscious capital company producing handcrafted, artisanal products that enhance well-being and captivate the senses. Andrew was inspired to start a purpose-driven organization when multimillion-dollar companies began donating proceeds of their profits to underdeveloped countries. Pacha Soap Co. headquarters is in Hastings, Nebraska, with more than 40 employees. The company distributes products in South America and East Africa. In this episode... Most mornings start with a hot shower. The routine is a privilege some Americans may take for granted. The fact is, many people outside the US are unable to start their days with a bath or shower because they don’t have access to clean running water and hygiene products due to poverty. The lack of clean water and soap is what business leader Andrew Vrbas noticed during his visits to Peru as a kid and as a student studying abroad. It broke Andrew’s heart to witness that kind of poverty and sought a way to be part of the solution. So he set out to open a soap shop in the small Peruvian town that had become so near and dear to his heart. In this episode of the CPG Troublemakers, join host Steve Gaither, as he chats with the Co-founder and CEO of Pacha Soap Co., Andrew Vrbas. Andrew discusses ethical capitalism, including the inspiration for creating Pacha Soap Co., how the brand grew from a small soap shop into an international consumer good, the future of Pacha Soap Co., and more.


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Disrupting the Seltzer Set With Anthony Spina of System Seltzers

Anthony Spina is the Co-founder and Co-CEO of System Seltzers, the first alcohol-by- volume system. Consumers can choose to purchase multipacks of eight, five, or zero ABV, giving buyers the choice to dial up or dial down over the course of an evening or week. Anthony is a veteran beverage brand executive who worked as a brand manager for Pabst Brewing Company, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, and White Claw before founding System Seltzers. Additionally, Anthony is the Founder of Three Degrees, a selective beverage branding company that includes beer, spirits, hard seltzer, and energy drinks. In this episode… The beverage industry has evolved heavily since the 1990s. At one point, while hanging at bars, the only options outside of hard liquor were beer, wine, and perhaps the novelty wine cooler. Gender norms also played a factor in what bargoers drank. Fast forward to the twenty-first century, alcoholic choices include craft beers, hard lemonades, and seltzers. But what about the social drinkers who have work in the morning, are trying to cut back, or prefer to socialize sans alcohol? Those are no longer hard choices, thanks to beverage brand manager and entrepreneur Anthony Spina. Now consumers can choose to dial up or dial down. Want to learn more? Join Steve Gaither in this episode of the CPG Troublemakers as he chats with the Co-founder and Co-CEO of System Seltzers, Anthony Spina. The two discuss the ever-changing beverage world, including how marketing has changed over the years, beer brands pivoting into the beverage industry, and the idea behind System Seltzers. If you’re a CPG professional who likes to stir up a little trouble, then you’ll want to tune in. Let’s get started!


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Patrick Tannous - Living the Loose Leaf Life

Patrick Tannous is the Co-founder and President of Tiesta Tea, a tea company on a mission to make loose-leaf tea understandable, accessible, and affordable. Tiesta Tea specializes in sourcing over 150 ingredients from across the globe — blending them into loose-leaf teas and herbal beverages. Patrick and his partner started Tiesta Tea in 2010 while they were seniors in college at the University of Illinois-Chicago. They both have been featured in Inc. Magazine as one of their 30 Under 30 Rising Stars. When Patrick is not working, he enjoys adventuring abroad, playing sports, developing relationships with loved ones, and sharing his passion for entrepreneurship with others. In this episode… What is it that you most desire from a piping hot cup of tea? Do you wish you could revolutionize the way you consume tea? Tea is one of the most consumed products in the world and, to appreciate it, people should find a tea that is practical and full of the flavors they enjoy. Patrick Tannous at Tiesta Tea has revolutionized the way we can enjoy drinking tea and the benefits it provides. Struggling to find your favorite tea at overpriced specialty stores is a thing of the past. In this episode of the CPG Troublemakers, join host Steve Gaither as he chats with the Co-founder and President of Tiesta Tea, Patrick Tannous. Patrick shares Tiesta Tea’s origin story, the adoption of loose-leaf tea, the importance of being both a retail and e-commerce brand, and the future of Tiesta Tea.