Did you know female-run startups are more successful than their male counterparts, yet they get less than 3% of the available venture capital funding? That’s despite the fact that when it comes to market value, female founders and their consumers account for almost 85% of the total.
That’s why PepsiCo started the WomanMade initiative. It combines the collective power of PepsiCo’s Brands, including Stacy’s Pita Chips, PepsiCo Foundation, and partners to advance the economic empowerment of women in the food system through funding, networking, and mentoring.
The WomanMade Funding Challenge is the initiative’s latest activation, culminating in a total of $100,000 awarded to its winners, including $50,000 for the first-place finisher Sashee Chandran of Tea Drops. This year, the competition was digital due to the postponement of the Expo West Natural Products show but was just as impactful for the participating business owners.
Below, meet the top three, as well as all of the top 10 finalists, who each pitched via video on Friday morning to a panel of esteemed judges including Jen Saenz, president of PepsiCo Global Foods; Ciara Dilley, vice president of marketing for Frito-Lay Transform Brands and Portfolio Innovation; Lisa Lillien, best-selling author and founder of Hungry-Girl.com; Health Warrior co-founder Shane Emmett; and Hannah Hong, Hakuna Brands co-founder and winner of the 2019 Stacy’s Rise Project.
Statistically, the finalists are a diverse bunch — 50% of the companies were founded by women of color and moms. Additionally, one of the top criteria included a commitment to social impact, which all of the companies have! Four of the 10 finalists are Certified B Corporations and four of the businesses are partnered with charitable organizations or donate proceeds of sales to charitable causes. Finally, nearly all are committed to foods that are healthy for consumers — half of the finalists’ products are organic and three of the companies are non-GMO or Non-GMO Project Verified.
“We wanted to thank you for putting together a truly innovative and inspiring event and for pushing it forward in spite of the challenges that presented themselves this week,” said second place finisher Nydia Shipman of The Worthy Company. “We have already begun to connect with our fellow pitch companies and look forward to keeping in touch with them and all of you as well. We are thrilled and honored to have won, and are inspired and motivated to pay it forward to other female entrepreneurs looking to change the world for the better.”
We applaud every single business owner who entered the competition. They were all invited to join the WomanMade Food and Bev Community on Hello Alice, here they can access funding resources, business tools, and connect with industry mentors. Know a business owner with a food and/or beverage business? Invite them to join!
First Place: Sashee Chandran, Tea Drops
We all love the convenience of tea bags, but the waste they create can be daunting. That’s why Los Angeles-based Chandran created tea that dissolves right into the cup for 20% less waste. The tablets are Fair Trade, organic, and kosher certified, and offered in flavors ranging from Rose Earl Gray to Orange Cinnamon Roll.
Second Place: Nydia Shipman, The Worthy Company
Eating plenty of veggies would be so much easier if they were blended into delicious snacks. Shipman, based in Chicago, helps customers do just that with Blendie Bowls, 150-calorie bowls that pack in three plant servings, plus vegan protein and fiber. Flavors include smoothie-like Green Tropics, tinged with pineapple and citrus, but also rich Dark Cocoa Cherry.
Third Place: Kate Flynn, Sun & Swell Foods
Ever wished your workday snacks were, well, cleaner? So did Flynn. The Santa Barbara-based entrepreneur makes sweet and savory snacks from 100% real food ingredients. Her focus is making sure kids get access to her healthy snacks, so you can find them in schools, as well as national chains ranging from Whole Foods to Anthropologie to Barry’s Bootcamp.
Meet the Remaining Top 10 Finalists:
Rana Lustyan, Edoughble
Los Angeles-based Lustyan is a mom balancing starting a family with building her food brand. Edoughble was the first all-natural, premium, snackable cookie dough. Edoughble, made in flavors like Hot Chocolate and Birthday Bash, is available at 1,000 retailers, online, and in Lustyan’s newly opened Sweet Shop in LA.
Brooke Rewa, Goodmylk
If you prefer your java with a non-dairy milk, you may already have tried Goodmylk at a coffee shop near you. “The new Holy Grail of plant-based mylks” is “thoughtfully moving into retail,” says Rewa (also of Los Angeles), but her hemp and almond milks already sell to coffee partners like Blue Bottle Coffee and Intelligentsia.
Allison DeVane, Teaspressa
It’s not every day that we see a whole new beverage category, but Phoenix-based DeVane’s tea brewed in the style of espresso is just that. It provides the health benefits of tea, but the fun of drinks like lattes and cappuccinos. And Teaspressa isn’t her only invention: She’s also created all-natural LUXE Sugar Cubes, which make instant cocktails when added to liquor.
Jessica Levison, Peekaboo Ice Cream
What’s hiding in Levison’s seemingly indulgent organic ice creams? Veggies! The Miami Beach-based company’s flavors include everything from mint chocolate chip with hidden spinach to cotton candy with hidden beets. They’re sold online, as well as at Safeway, Kroger, and Whole Foods.
Jill Robbins, Homefree Treats
New Hampshire-based clinical psychologist Jill Robbins is solving a problem close to home with allergy-friendly cookies inspired by her child who lives with multiple food allergies. People with special diets are enjoying the gingersnaps, chocolate chips, and Lemon Burst treats all over the world; besides the U.S., they’re distributed in Canada, the U.K., the Philippines, and Singapore.
Cecilia Panichelli, Cocina 54
Empanadas are one of the world’s most delicious pocket pies. What if they were healthier? Panichelli’s gluten-free, baked version uses fresh veggies and antibiotic-free meats in flavors ranging from traditional beef and chicken to bacon-egg-and-cheese. The Austin-based company sells to stores all over Texas and in 11 states.
Katie Jesionowski, My SuperFoods
Kids need super snacks to help them grow. New Jersey-based mom Jesionowski created three lines of snacks to power healthy kids (and adults) through a busy day, including peanut- and tree nut-free granola bites, whole grain cookies, and mini popcorn chips. They’re currently sold in national chains, online, and to schools.