Brian Rosen is the founder of the Growth Beverage collective of brands, which includes Sprout Beverage, InvestBev, BevStrat, and Algoma Capital. The Growth Beverage ecosystem serves independent beverage brands at every stage of their growth journey - from inception through exit.
Brian has dedicated his career to the beverage industry and is globally regarded as a leading authority on navigating the three-tier system. He was the CEO of his own $100 million independent liquor retailer, worked as a partner in the adult beverage category at PwC (Pricewaterhouse Coopers), and served as the lead consultant of trade marketing for Anheuser-Busch. He is the recipient of numerous industry awards, including Forbes Best of the Web (2x), Retailer of the Year (3x), Wine Innovator of the Year, and was a Power Ranking Top 100 Global Beverage Leader.
Brian has an Executive Leadership degree from the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business and a degree in marketing and finance from DePaul University. He is a member of Tiger 21 and YPO Gold and serves on the boards of Pilot Project Brewing, ReserveBar, Nomadica, and Fyllo.
Why did you start Growth Beverage?
I started Growth Beverage because I saw a gap in the market. There was no comprehensive solution that provided brands with everything they needed in one place. I wanted to create a platform where brands could access incubation, capital, and sales and marketing support, regardless of where they were in their brand evolution.
What do you look for in a founder?
Hunger, drive, patience, and the ability to accept advice.
What is the most common mistake you see from founders/brands?
The most common mistake I see from founders and brands is overspending on labor for sales and marketing without a deep understanding of their core audience or a well-defined messaging strategy.
What do you want your legacy to be?
I want my legacy to be that of someone who made a positive impact in the alcoholic beverage industry by creating an environment that leveled the playing field for all brand founders, making it easier for them to succeed.
Giuseppe Infusino is a Partner and the Chief Investment Officer at InvestBev, a multi-million dollar private equity firm that deploys growth capital to brands in the beverage, barrel, and beverage tech categories. He leads InvestBev’s investment sourcing, diligence, and structuring processes, and partners with portfolio companies to increase their likelihood of success.
Prior to InvestBev, Giuseppe spent over a decade managing multi-billion-dollar portfolios on behalf of prominent institutional investors. He has successfully deployed over $1 billion across private equity and venture capital strategies.
Giuseppe is on the boards of CANN, Speakeasy, and L’Uva Bella. He holds an MBA in Marketing and Entrepreneurship from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a B.S. in Finance and Real Estate from University of Wisconsin-Madison.
What trends are you most excited about?
I’m interested in the larger shift toward transparency in the industry. This is coming to the beverage industry from the broader CPG space. It allows consumers to decide what is important to them from a health, personal, sourcing, moral, or other perspective. This will have an impact on everything from agriculture, to ingredients, to packaging, to supply chain, to labeling, and I’m excited to be on the ground floor.
What is the most common mistake you see from founders?
Trying to grow too quickly by overspending on labor is the most common mistake. Not knowing who your customer is or where to find them is a close second. When those two mistakes are paired, spending too much and doing so in a directionless way, it is a recipe for disaster.
What do you look for in a portfolio company?
We look for fundamentally sound businesses that are making good products in growing categories, led by excellent people that we want to work with.
Esther Park is a global brand builder and results-focused executive. As VP of Portfolio at InvestBev, she is responsible for partnering with portfolio companies to strengthen their operations and drive growth.
With extensive experience in the beverage and consumer packaged goods (CPG) industries, Esther has spearheaded international brand launches at leading corporations such as Molson Coors, Bacardi, Revlon, and Procter & Gamble. She had a pivotal role in establishing William Lawson's Scotch Whisky as the fastest-growing brand within the Bacardi spirits portfolio, and she led transformation initiatives that brought profitability to Revlon's regional business.
Esther's achievements have been recognized through numerous industry awards, including the Drinks International Award for Best Luxury Drinks Launch, International Spirits Challenge medals for taste, design & packaging, and new individual product, and The San Francisco World Spirits Competition double-gold medal.
Esther completed the Digital Transformation Executive Education Program from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and holds a degree in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University.
What excites you about the adult beverage industry?
It’s both a functional and emotional category. What you choose to drink on which occasion says something about you – and that’s where building a brand comes in. Founders have such belief and passion in their brands that is contagious. It’s important to get the brand fundamentals in place as that dictates where and how you show up and be strategic and choiceful in where you want to win.
What do you look for in a founder or portfolio company?
Belief, passion, grit, and clear demonstration of product market fit.
What is something people may be surprised to learn about you?
I love marrying form and function and have been a ceramicist for decades, taking classes and learning from many artists as I lived and worked in different countries – I recently opened an Etsy shop, Halenani. Halenani means beautiful home in Hawaiian and takes me back to my roots growing up there.
Gustavo Aguirre oversees the Sprout Beverage brand acceleration program and consulting services. As a VP of Brand Innovation, he partners with early-stage founders to help them refine their marketing, product, and commercialization strategies.
Gustavo has over 15 years of experience developing global advertising campaigns and go-to-market strategies for leading brands including Molson Coors, Anheuser Busch, Heineken, Pepsi, and Keurig. He spearheaded the product innovation program at Molson Coors and played a pivotal role in connecting Coors Light with the US Hispanic market, driving 8-figure incremental growth for the business.
Gustavo’s work has been recognized by leading marketing organizations who awarded his work Most Effective Multicultural Campaign and the Top Sport Marketer Campaign. He holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
What do you enjoy most about working in the beverage industry?
The constant discovery of amazing new products and the opportunity to work with extremely creative and hardworking founders.
What is the most common mistake you see from founders?
Lacking rigor when evaluating their product market fit potential.
What void does Sprout fill in the beverage industry?
It offers founders access to a multifaceted partner capable of providing actionable solutions that strengthen decision-making processes, reducing the opportunities to make expensive mistakes.
What are some of your hobbies outside of the beverage world?
I am an avid scuba diver and enjoy discovering new music.
Ryan Reis has helped to build and reinvigorate some of the world’s most recognizable brands.
As a vice president of brand marketing at MillerCoors, he led turn-arounds on the company’s two largest brands, Miller Lite and Coors Light. He was also vice president of field marketing, leading the extensive local marketing team that leverages sports and entertainment properties, media partnerships, and the brewery tour center. As a sales team leader, he won Supplier of the Year honors from a national chain retailer.
Prior to MillerCoors, Reis worked in brand management and insights for Unilever on some of their largest U.S. brands, such as Suave and Axe. He was a managing consultant for Zyman Group, led by the former CMO of Coca-Cola, for engagements on ConAgra and Nationwide. He began his career working for Nielsen as an onsite consultant at General Mills.
He is currently a lecturer and faculty advisor at Northwestern University in the Medill Integrated Marketing Communications program, where he teaches graduate level courses on Advanced Brand Management and Innovation Marketing as well as an undergraduate course on Persuasive Communications. He is also the principal consultant at New Course Consulting, advising companies on building brands, driving growth, and strengthening sales/marketing collaboration.
Reis earned an MBA from the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management and a bachelor’s degree with honors from the University of Wisconsin.
Scout Driscoll, Founder of VINT Studio, teaches the Sprout Beverage packaging module.
In this session, Scout shares insights from her 20 years in packaging design. You will review branding basics, how to define your audience, and be provided metrics with which to analyze your product and how it adheres to packaging best practices. Scout will audit your product packaging, provide feedback and recommendations and take questions.
A veteran of both the global spirits and CPG industries for over 20 years, De Oliveira most recently served as VP/GM of Sales in the U.S. for Ilegal Mezcal, where he led the artisanal brand’s growth by 1000% in less than five years, distinguishing it as the #1 premium mezcal in the U.S.
Prior to this, De Oliveira held positions as VP of Commercial in the agave segment, as well as director-level roles for Diageo North America, where he managed several brands and portfolios ranging from scotch to vodka in more than 40 markets across the continent. Throughout his career, De Oliviera has spearheaded large-scale transformations that have positioned companies for sustainable growth, holding a diverse number of marketing, sales, commercial and leadership roles for the likes of Nestle, Philip Morris and more.
Are you ready to join the most powerful ecosystem in the beverage industry?