Preview: KombuchaKon, Long Beach, CA, April 17-19

In April we’re off to Long Beach, California to report on the 6th Annual KombuchaKon — the premier kombucha industry conference hosted by Kombucha Brewers International (KBI). This is the organization headed by the irrepressible Hannah Crum, author of The Big Book of Kombucha and the original Kombucha Mama who shares her expertise and complete line of home brewing products at the Kombucha Kamp.

This is the only conference and trade show specifically targeting those in the Kombucha industry. The two-day event features the World’s Largest Kombucha Sampling Bar, educational seminars, dynamic speakers and a unique networking opportunity.

Agenda

The event kicks off on the evening of Wednesday 17th with a pre-party at the Rock Bottom Brewery featuring Kombucha Cocktails and Craft Beer.

On Thursday there’s a KBI Member Meeting, afternoon Trade Show and the main conference sessions. Topics include:

  • Kombucha Market Analysis and Future Trends
  • Compliance Central: Successfully Advertising and Promoting Youth Products
  • Conversation about Standard of Identity
  • Traceability from Inputs to Final Product & Recall Readiness
  • QC Program & Lab Setup for Small & Medium Business
  • Solving Distribution Problems
  • Testing Equipment Demonstrations
  • And many more!

    The day wraps up with a Kombucha Kocktail Reception followed by a Speaker & Sponsor Appreciation Dinner.

    Keynote Speaker Tyler Gage

    On Friday the conference highlight is the keynote by Tyler Gage. He’s an entrepreneur, author and speaker who uses wisdom from the Amazon (as in the rain forest, not the everything store up in the rainy Pacific Northwest!) to bring innovation and inspiration to organizations.

    Since the age of 19, Tyler has been studying native plants and languages with indigenous elders in the Amazon rainforest. After graduating from Brown University, Tyler turned down a Fulbright grant to start Runa, a social enterprise that makes clean energy drinks with guayusa, a rare Amazonian leaf, and improves livelihoods for thousands of indigenous farming families in Ecuador.  With the help of investors like Channing Tatum and Leonardo DiCaprio, Runa has become a thriving, multimillion-dollar company that VitaCoco acquired in June of 2018.

    Tyler is a Forbes 30 Under 30 Entrepreneur and winner of both the Big Apple Entrepreneur of the Year Award and the Specialty Food Association’s Citizen Leader of the Year Award.  CBS This Morning, ABC Nightline, National Geographic and Richard Branson’s book Screw Business As Usual have all featured Tyler for his unique and powerful approach to building businesses and creating social good.

    In his book Fully Alive: Using the Lessons of the Amazon to Live Your Mission in Business & Life, Tyler shares his spiritual adventures and the business savvy that helped him create Runa, demonstrating how we can dig deeper to bring greater meaning and purpose to our personal and professional pursuits.

    Tyler currently serves as a Managing Director for Terrafertil, the largest natural foods company in Latin America, and has worked as the Chief Development Officer for the company. Terrafertil acquired Essential Living Foods in the US in 2017 and then Nestlé acquired all of Terrafertil in 2018.

    Tyler also serves on the Advisory Council for Entrepreneurship at Brown University and advises, invests in and supports other start-ups. He lives in Bellingham, Washington with his wife Michelle and enjoys playing soccer, riding his unicycle and practicing yoga. (And, presumably, drinking the odd glass of ‘booch!)

    Expectations

    Based on reports from previous years we expect to hear debate over a consensus definition for kombucha as a category, updates on regulatory issues, and steps such as DNA sequencing that analyses the drink at the scientific level. Plus, we’ll be curious to hear about the economics of the business, including the exit strategies different start-ups are pursuing. These range private equity funding to capital positions being taken by outfits such as MillerCoors (in Clearly Kombucha) PepsiCo (in KeVita) and others. It’ll be instructive to hear the brewer’s perspective of the costs and benefits of taking outside investment. And to investigate just how much money people can make brewing ‘booch — from the Ma & Pa outfit selling at farmer’s markets to the big guns fighting for space on the supermarket shelves.

    We also have a particular interest in hearing about the international scene, as ‘booch spreads from the West Coast to other corners of the globe.

    Last, but not least, who can turn down the opportunity to belly up to the world’s largest kombucha tasting bar!


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