February 20th at 12:45 PM

Chicago Chapter: February Food & Bev. Summit - Multiple Panels



Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP
161 North Clark Street
Suite 4300
Chicago, Illinois, 60601


This event starts on Thursday February 20th at 12:45 PM CST.


Panel Topics: 

  1. Cannabis Panel: The Future of Cannabis in Food and Beverage
  2. PE Panel: How Investors are Satisfying an Increased Appetite for Food and Beverage Companies
  3. IB Panel: Selling in a White-Hot Market Not Slowing Down
  4. Executive Panel: Innovations in the F&B Sector and How New Emerging Brands Are Taking Market Share Away from Legacy Brands.


12:45 PM – 1:15 PM: Registration 
1:15 PM – 2:20 PM: Cannabis in Food/Bev Panel 
2:30 PM – 3:20 PM: PE Panel  
3:30 PM – 3:45 PM: Short Break 
3:50 PM – 4:40 PM: IB Panel   
4:50 PM – 5:40 PM: Executive Panel  
5:40 PM – 7:00 PM: Cocktail Reception 


Cannabis Panel Summary: The Future of Cannabis in Food and Beverage
As cannabis becomes mainstream and more states adopt recreational legalization we’ll continue to see a variety of new cannabis related products entering the food and beverage space. This panel will discuss what we should expect to see from start-up cannabis F&B companies as well as discuss what some very large F&B companies have planned around cannabis (you’ll be surprised to learn which major F&B companies are developing cannabis products). We’ll also talk about the science being developed around these products, IE more efficient delivery systems for bio-availability, beverage infusion technology and accompanying economics. The panel consists of representatives from the product development, manufacturing, investing and consulting space around cannabis F&B. 

Moderator: Nathan Whigham, President at EN Capital

Thomas Mazarakis, Portfolio Advisor at Salveo Capital
Joyce Cenali, 
Founding Partner and Chief Operating Officer, Big Rock Partners
Gregg Steinberg, CEO at 
Belushi's Farm 
Patrick Barry, Director & Chief Investment Officer at Granite Hall Partners

PE Panel Summary: How Investors are Satisfying an Increased Appetite for Food and Beverage Companies
Consumer preferences in the food and beverage sector continue to evolve rapidly. Whether it’s bold and exotic flavoring, healthy/clean alternatives, convenient on-the-go meals, or plant-based alternatives, the industry continues to experience disruption by an abundance of different products and offerings that are available through a multitude of channels. While this disruption creates investment opportunities in companies capitalizing on the latest food and beverage trends, private equity firms must evaluate the long-term sustainability of these companies in a dynamic environment that can change overnight. Whether it’s attributes related to the product, R&D investment needed to keep the product refreshed/relevant, or entrance into new channels, private equity firms need to be thoughtful in their due diligence of potential investments for their portfolio. 

Hear from some of today’s leading food, beverage and agribusiness private equity investors on their approach, investment criteria and operational matters they consider when making an investment in such specialty food and beverage companies. 

Eric Kroll, Partner and Food and Beverage Practice Leader, Baker Tilly 

Kevin Overby, Vice President at Keystone Capital
Dewey Turner, Partner at Sole Source Capital LLC
Robert Brown, Managing Director at Encore Consumer Capital
Wayne Carpenter, Managing Partner at Lake Pacific Partners, LLC 

IB Panel Summary: Selling in a White-Hot Market Not Slowing Down
The food and beverage sector remains a very hot area for M&A and investment with the last 5 years being particularly robust. Dozens of bidders submit bids for even relatively modest assets and purchase price multiples continue to expand beyond multiples in the last boom in 2006/2007 prior to great recession. Even large $1B+ private equity funds that need to deploy capital fast bid on assets with less than $5M of EBITDA in attractive sectors like food and beverage, just for the opportunity to get money out the door before investment periods expire and LPs start to ask tough questions. How should owners and management think about preparing a company for sale into such frothy markets? Join us as we ask a few experts that advise sellers in the food and beverage sector. 

Michael D. Ilagan , Managing Partner at 
Blackland Capital Partners, LLC 

Gian Ricco, Managing Director at Stout
Cathy Jaros, Managing Director at The Peakstone Group
Bob Dekker, 
Managing Director at Balmoral Advisors
Nathan Aslesen, Managing Director at Craig- Hallum Capital Group LLC

Executive Panel Summary: Innovations in the F&B Sector and How New Emerging Brands Are Taking Market Share Away from Legacy Brands.
With the dawn of a new decade consumers are focused on innovation trends in F&B that are up-and-coming for 2020 and onward. In a recent survey with food industry executives, top motivators for introducing new food products included health and wellness, sustainability, convenience, direct to consumer, private label and ethnic/niche markets. Investing in product innovation and new markets took the top place for both large and small companies. However, differences emerged in the second-place spot: an increase in the talent acquisition was the second priority for smaller emerging brand firms, while increased profitability was number two for large firms. Tune in to our panel of experienced F/B entrepreneurial executives as we dive deeper into the above and lean further into what they think the future holds for innovation trends in this industry and how they’re adapting to accommodate them. 

Ketan Mehta, Managing Partner at The Corporate Development Group

Samuel Kestenbaum, Co- Founder & CEO at ParmCrisps and THINSTERS
Dan Klein, CEO at Tiesta Tea Company
Alison Velazquez, Founder & CEO of Skinny Souping
Paul Seeman, Founder & CEO at Boombox Beverage


  • Opus Connect Members: No Charge
  • Non-Members (On or before February 15th): $395
  • Non-Members (On or after February 16th): $495

By Invitation Only 

Opus Connect is a membership-based organization. 
If you have any queries, please contact lena@opusconnect.com 
*Opus Connect adheres to a strict no cancellations, no refunds, no application of registration fees to future events policy. 
Qualified substitutions are accepted. To send a substitute, please notify lena@opusconnect.com 
**Opus Connect reserves the right to refuse entry to prospective attendees


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Eric Kroll
Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP
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Ketan Mehta
The Corporate Development Group
Managing Partner
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Michael D. Ilagan
Blackland Capital Partners, LLC
Managing Director
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Nathan Whigham
EN Capital LLC


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Alison Velazquez
Skinny Souping
Founder & CEO
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Bob Dekker
Balmoral Advisors
Managing Director
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Cathy Jaros
The Peakstone Group
Managing Director
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Dan Klein
Tiesta Tea Company
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Dewey Turner
Sole Source Capital LLC
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Gian Ricco
Managing Director, Investment Banking
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Gregg Steinberg
Belushi's Farm
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Joyce Cenali
Big Rock Partners
Founding Partner and Chief Operating Officer
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Kevin Overby
Keystone Capital
Vice President
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Nathan Aslesen
Craig- Hallum Capital Group LLC
Managing Director, Mergers & Acquisitions
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Patrick Barry
Granite Hall Partners
Director & Chief Investment Officer
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Paul Seeman
Boombox Beverage LLC
Founder & CEO
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Robert Brown
Encore Consumer Capital
Managing Director
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Samuel Kestenbaum
ParmCrisps and THINSTERS
Co-Founder and CEO
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Thomas Mazarakis
Salveo Capital
Portfolio Advisor
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Wayne Carpenter
Lake Pacific Partners, LLC
Managing Partner


Event Over
This event has concluded.