Austin-based firm gears up for second fund to shape the future of transformative consumer brands with diverse entrepreneurs
Epstein, with expertise in health, wellness and nutrition plus a wide network in the consumer and technology industries, will help deepen the firm’s ecosystem, source potential investments, serve on portfolio company boards, and fundraise for Springdale Ventures’ second fund.
As entrepreneurs themselves, they launched Springdale Ventures with a mission of building a founder-focused firm that leverages their backgrounds and industry relationships at critical growth points of early-stage consumer companies to help teams succeed. As an active natural products entrepreneur since 2002, Gilbreath was Managing Director of the consumer packaged goods (CPG) accelerator SKU prior to starting Springdale Ventures.
Graham, co-founder of Build-A-Sign, successfully exited his company and started Notley, a mission-driven organization that aims to benefit communities through social innovation. Together, they see Epstein as a critical addition to the team, as her expertise in nutrition and deep understanding of fast-changing consumer behavior will help brands navigate the challenges of today’s marketplace.
As a registered dietitian nutritionist, Epstein has spent nearly a decade partnering with business leaders to build innovative brands since driving nutrition initiatives at The White House, where she was Associate Director of the Let’s Move! campaign for former First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama. She went on to lead health education technology and services for Stanford Health Care.
While at Stanford, Epstein developed and taught the Food and Nutrition Entrepreneurship course at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. Most recently, she was the director of The University of Texas Nutrition Institute, where she developed programs and courses that guide early-stage food and beverage entrepreneurs from ideation to product-market fit through iterative, consumer-centered design. She advises several companies in the better-for-you food and beverage space, many of which are founded by former students.
“We are thrilled to welcome Marissa to the team. She adds a fresh perspective, has extensive experience in nutrition innovation, deep insights into what makes products successful in the market, and knows how to tap into public and private research to help our portfolio companies scale,” said Gilbreath.
Graham also said: “Marissa’s has an excellent understanding of how CPG brands can better navigate the challenges of today’s fast-changing consumer landscape. We are proud to have her as part of our growing team at Springdale Ventures, and we know she will help us to keep outperforming other consumer-focused VC firms.”
Epstein added, “Genevieve, Dan, and I share a passion for partnering with inspiring entrepreneurs to scale brands that make people’s lives better. Springdale has built an exciting portfolio of exceptional teams on their way to becoming legacy brands, and I’m looking forward to joining the team to accelerate their growth.”
Epstein has advised Springdale Ventures over the past two years. As a General Partner, she will continue to help grow Springdale’s 23 portfolio companies, which, across the portfolio, are currently averaging five times revenue growth, and nearly half of which are led by underrepresented founders. With her appointment, Springdale Ventures joins the ten percent of VC funds that have two or more female general partners.
Epstein’s addition also marks the raise of Springdale Ventures’ second fund, which will continue its current investment thesis and build on the successful track record of its first fund. Headquartered in CPG hot spot Austin, Texas, Springdale Ventures is geographically and strategically positioned to grow its early momentum by partnering with entrepreneurs to support the growth of consumer product companies.
About Springdale Ventures
Springdale Ventures is an Austin, Texas-based venture capital firm that partners with visionary founders to accelerate growth of transformative, early-stage consumer brands that are both digitally native and retail ready. Led by successful entrepreneurs and operators, the $27 million fund has a team of over 30 years of track record of valuation creation and a combined more than 150 years of CPG experience, and it has invested in a group of stellar brands across categories including food & beverage, lifestyle, personal care, and wellness. To date, there are more than 20 portfolio companies under Springdale Ventures, including Caraway, KOS, Judy, BeatBox, Literati, and Canteen. https://www.springdaleventures.com/brands/
Bios of Springdale Ventures General Partners:
Dan Graham co-founded BuildASign.com in 2005, and grew it to a $100+ million dollar CPG, e-commerce business that was purchased by Cimpress (VistaPrint) in 2018 for $280 million.
Over the past ten years, Dan has been an investor in the CPG and Tech startup communities with over 100 early stage portfolio investments. Dan also co-founded Notley in 2015 with his wife, Lisa. He is a recipient of various awards including Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2013 Central Texas Award, Austin Business Journal’s 2012 Best CEO Award, and Austin Under 40 Austinite of the Year.
As a native Austinite, Dan personally gives back to the Austin community through Notley and participation on the Board of Directors for numerous philanthropic organizations. He also acts as a mentor to aspiring young entrepreneurs working with Capital Factory and SKU, and is a member of the 2016 Class of Henry Crown Fellows and the Aspen Global Leadership Network at the Aspen Institute. Dan earned undergraduate degrees in computer science and philosophy from The University of Texas at Austin (2003), and a J.D. from The University of Texas at Austin School of Law (2005).
Genevieve Gilbreath is co-founder and General Partner at Springdale Ventures. She serves on the Board of Directors of four portfolio companies: JUDY, KOS, Tiny Organics and Gooder Foods. Gilbreath has been an active investor and entrepreneur in the consumer products space in Austin and globally for the last 15 years. Her career in consumer products started when she founded, and grew two global import/export supplement companies. During much of that time she lived in India, where she continued to operate her supplement business, while developing and piloting the international, cross-cultural Princeton University Bridge Year Program India. Prior to that, she served as an adjunct professor in health and wellness at Baylor University.
After completing a successful transaction with one of her supplement companies, she wanted to champion other consumer products entrepreneurs’ aspirations. From 2016 to 2018, Genevieve served as the Managing Director of SKU, the first and leading consumer products accelerator in the US, that has launched such well-known brands as Epic Provisions, Siete, Austin Eastciders onto the national scene.
Passionate about the success of consumer brand entrepreneurs in Austin and beyond, in 2019 Genevieve became a founding board member and was President of Naturally Austin, a non-profit supporting CPG entrepreneurs, for more than two years. During her tenure, Naturally Austin grew to 500+ members, gained more than 75 sponsors, and successfully launched a series of CPG educational classes plus accelerator program that supports more than 77 BIPOC founders across Texas. Genevieve is also on the board of the national umbrella organization to Naturally Austin, called Naturally Network, whose mission is to accelerate and elevate the power and impact of conscious business practices in the natural products ecosystem.
Marissa has been working with emerging brands to build innovative products, technology, and services for over ten years since she led nutrition initiatives at The White House, where she worked directly with Michelle Obama to drive her Let’s Move! campaign to inspire healthier living.
Marissa created and launched an innovation curriculum at Stanford University that teaches business leaders the consumer, scientific, and regulatory criteria necessary to evaluate investment worthiness of early stage health and nutrition brands. She also built first-of-its-kind, consumer-facing health technology at Stanford Health Care, home to one of the nation’s top 10 hospitals, that brought digital engagement products to the health system’s patient population.
Most recently, Marissa was the Director of The University of Texas Nutrition Institute, whose mission is to connect nutrition science to food and health. She worked with scientists and entrepreneurs to commercialize and grow early stage concepts in food & beverage, restaurant, and CPG. She led the development of nutrition education experiences to empower hundreds of consumers, healthcare professionals, and entrepreneurs with scientific guidance for a better life. She teaches courses on nutrition innovation, food and beverage, and CPG entrepreneurship at McCombs Business School.
A registered dietitian nutritionist, Marissa graduated Phi Beta Kappa from UT with degrees in Nutrition and Plan II Honors. She is a Truman Scholar and received her MBA from Stanford University.