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Oatworks Looking For CEO; Consultants Gone Crazy

Changes are coming to the top at new oat extract beverage Oatworks following a development phase that featured early incubation from investor Bill Anderson’s First Beverage Group.

One of the more experienced members of the First Beverage Group team, Nantucket Nectars founder Tom First, had been tasked with helping take the product from concept to market. But First Beverage did not invest following the launch and First is no longer actively involved with the brand.

Now that it’s bottled and available – for now, pretty much only in Boston, via Blue Coast distributing, but soon to roll out in New York – the company is looking for a full-time CEO to run the business.

“Ultimately both they and we decided that the investment wasn’t necessary,” said David Peters of Biovelop, which developed Promoat, an oat beta glucan extract that gives the drink its heart-healthy functional properties.

The London native and former investment banker said he was happy with the product that the partnership had produced – indeed, he was happily hawking it at the Oatworks booth, along with frequent check-ins by Oatworks board member and Code Blue founder Jeffrey Frumin (the founder of Code Blue) – throughout the show.

First Beverage “did a great job,” Peters said, “But we need someone who can eat, sleep, drink and think Oatworks.”

Other brands in the oat category were also on display at Expo East. Simpli Oatshakes has a new promotional campaign involving web-based videos, while Sneaky Pete’s (which featured veteran Bob Miller in its brand uniform, underscoring his involvement with the brand as a part-time sales consultant) continues to tinker with its branding while continuing to grow at retail.

Miller was one of many consultants who were juggling multiple clients at Expo East. He’s currently working with VBlast, Cap’n Eli’s Sodas (made by Shipyard Brewing), and coconut water brand Cocolife.

Also juggling brands was Cascadia Managing Brands, the sales and marketing consultancy formed by brothers Bill and Bob Sipper. The pair spent time working to build the profile of Spacho, an all-vegetable gazpacho-like bottled drink that was widely discussed at the event, along with kids’ water brand Wat-aah and early chia category entry Chia/Vie.

Still, no one was showing more depth of involvement at Expo East than Eric Schnell, the co-founder of the I AM shot line and one of the original founders of Steaz. Schnell, who has taken on a series of advisory roles of late in products like Code Blue, among others, along with product suppliers like the flavor house Tea Wolf and financial concern 6 Pacific Capital, recently decided to roll his responsibilities together into a one-stop brand advisory shop, Metabrand.

Metabrand, which Schnell called an “In-house manufacturing, laboratory, ingredient supplier, brand consulting, distribution and sale network” recently opened up offices in New Jersey, with Schnell at the head and a double handful of advisors available to help outsource all or part of the beverage company development process.

“Am I spread a little too thin?” Schnell said. “Yes. My world became too large. That’s why I’m doing this. I’ve lost enough money, made enough mistakes, and wasted enough time so that I could guide my client brands to stay out of harm’s way.”