Ryan Caldbeck | June 14, 2017 | 2 min read

CircleUp25: The Most Innovative Consumer And Retail Brands Of 2017

Self-driving cars, quantum computing and virtual reality may dominate most of business news headlines—but at CircleUp, we believe strongly that some of the most exciting innovation is occurring in the consumer industry.

That is why each year, we host CircleUp25, our awards recognizing the most innovative consumer and retail brands. CircleUp25 shines the light on the brands improving some of the most personal and important parts of our lives, changing what we eat, drink, wear, put on our skin, feed our pets, and take into our homes. Today, we’re opening the call for nominations for our 2017 awards, as well as announce our all-star panel of judges and other exciting updates.

Innovation with Impact

Innovation comes down to people, companies and products propagating new concepts that challenge the old guard. The need for innovation is especially heightened when the old guard is in an industry that’s ancient and resistant to change. That’s precisely what we see in the consumer market. A secular shift in mainstream demand toward modern consumer products from emerging brands, touting better-for-you ingredients and better-for-the-world impacts.

The innovation catalyzing a new wave of consumer products has lead to a whopping $18 billion shift in market share from larger brands to small brands during 2011-2015. We’re excited toward the next 25 most innovative brands, who will join a growing group of leading CircleUp25 alumni, including Dollar Shave Club, Everlane, Allbirds, Peloton and Sir Kensington’s.

What is remarkable about this shift, for investors and observers, is that is is observable on a daily basis. The consumer industry is awash with data – sales growth, distribution strength, consumer sentiment, packaging, all data inputs that can be quantified, and analyzed to spot innovation.

This year, for the first time, we are using our internal data science platform, Helio, to measure this innovation, and identify the trends, brands and difference makers that are driving these dramatic market share shifts. Helio analyzes 1.2 million consumer brands to assess relative strength of brand, distribution, team and financials then predict future business success. It is the most comprehensive consumer industry data source available.

How it Works

Visit the CircleUp25 site for all information on deadlines, nominations, judging and past winners. Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know.


There are two ways to submit a nomination. You can nominate a brand here, or you can tweet at the brand with #CircleUp25 for them to be considered. If a brand is raking in nominations on twitter, we’ll take its loyal fanbase into account when judging.


Once we close nominations and employ Helio to narrow down nominations, and surface other promising CircleUp25 candidates, we’ll have our selection of finalists. Helio’s analysis of brand, team, distribution and financials will filter and proactively identify any brands that may have slipped through the cracks.

As the last step in the judging process, we’ll have our 2017 judges vote on the finalists to select the winners. We’ve recruited an all-star lineup of dealmakers, VCs and influencers to join me in judging this year, including:

  1. Wayne Wu, Managing Director, VMG Partners
  2. Alexia Bonatsos, former Editor-In-Chief, TechCrunch
  3. John Foraker, President, Annie’s
  4. Kirsten Green, Partner, Forerunner Ventures
  5. Jacqueline Loken, VP, CAVU Venture Partners
  6. Brad Barnhorn, Board Member and Advisor, Silverwood Partners
  7. Rebecca Kaden, Partner, Maveron
  8. Brian Tockman, Principal, General Mills 301 INC
  9. Gigi Lee Chang, Founder of Plum Organics and Managing Director of FoodFutureCo
  10. Nick Giannuzzi, Founder and Partner, The Giannuzzi Group
  11. Janica Lane, Managing Director, Piper Jaffray
  12. Deb Hannah, Director of Retail Brand Partnerships, Starbucks
  13. Elly Truesdell, Global Product Innovation & Development, Whole Foods
  14. Josh Goldin, Cofounder, Alliance Consumer Growth
  15. Jed Wang, Head of Strategic Initiatives, Amazon Launchpad
  16. Arif Fazal, Founder and Managing Director, Blueberry Ventures
  17. Jenny Baxter, Managing Director, TSG Consumer Partners
  18. Kevin Murphy, Managing Director, Encore Consumer Capital
  19. Josh Wand, Founder, Force Brands
  20. Ryan Caldbeck, CEO and cofounder, CircleUp


For the first year ever, we are pleased to announce that CircleUp alumni are qualified to enter to win. With 200+ early-stage consumer brands having raised on CircleUp to date, it’s inaccurate to host this award while discounting such a significant portion of the market. Brands currently raising CircleUp are not qualified, per compliance terms.

Without further ado, please begin nominating, and best of luck to all the brands!

Zen Water

A water brand with an estimated revenue of $10-$20M (a +407% YoY increase)


A carbonated drink brand with an estimated revenue of $10-$20M (a +104% YoY increase)

Mad Tasty

A water brand with an estimated revenue of $1-$5M

Shine Water

A water brand that is in 3,000 retail doors (a +329% YoY increase)

All Wello

A juice brand with an estimated revenue of $1-$5M (a +89% YoY increase)

By understanding how these trends will impact the CPG landscape, you can position your business for success.

To learn more about Helio or get in touch, visit heliodata.com.