Tohi Co-Founders Shari Coulter Ford and Elma Hawkins were motivated to create antioxidant-rich consumer products knowing that antioxidants have broad human health benefits and are under-represented in Western diets. The longtime friends fell in love with the history of Aronia combined with the significant body of research around its unique nutritional profile and remarkable health benefits. They created Tohi, knowing health-conscious consumers value authenticity, functional ingredients and convenience. Nature's antioxidant gift in a recyclable can.
CEO & Co-Founder
Shari has a diverse background as an equity investor, entrepreneur, corporate executive, and board member. She has been an advisor/consultant to early stage companies and is a Techstars mentor. She led healthcare-related investments for a private fund in NYC and was CEO of New York’s first VC-backed accelerator for emerging tech companies. She is adept at forming and leading complex organizations in dynamic environments requiring instinctive navigational skills and has built an extensive international business network through her diverse roles. Shari is a graduate of the Wharton Management program at the Wharton School and the University of Missouri. Shari and her husband are devoted cyclists having logged more than 20,000 miles together on roads and trails.
Elma has more than 30 years of experience in biotechnology drug development, corporate development, fundraising and general management, with a special focus on oncology. Dr. Hawkins has served in a number of senior positions in corporate development, strategic planning and regulatory and clinical affairs. She has also held positions in preclinical and clinical research and has played a pivotal role in bringing a number of drugs to the market in the United States and Europe. Dr. Hawkins holds multiple degrees including a Ph.D. in Medicinal Chemistry from the University of Alabama and an M.B.A. from Boston University.
Jim has spent over 43 years in the beverage and food industries, creating success after success. He has become familiar as a well-known speaker, teacher and entrepreneur’s go-to mentor. He has designed and implemented national infrastructure for dozens of clients in the food and beverage industry. He has successfully created and implemented business and financial strategies for domestic and international firms focusing on production and manufacturing, branding, sales, marketing and distribution. Jim’s expertise spans the gamut from domestic cheese to potato chips, fortified pet waters to nutraceutical-functional and enhanced beverages. He has been heralded as the beverage expert or “guru” in the functional and nutraceutical beverage segments.
Jonathan Mariner is a private investor, entrepreneur, and independent board member with more than two decades of experience working in major league sports. Jonathan retired from Major League Baseball (MLB) in 2015. Prior to his retirement, he served as CIO for MLB overseeing $2 billion in league- wide pension assets and MLB’s strategic investment fund. He was also president of BASES, the league’s captive insurance company providing P&C insurance coverage to all 30 MLB teams and ballparks. Jonathan currently sits on the board of directors of public and private companies, including: Tyson Foods, Rocket Cos. (Rocket Mortgage), and McGraw-Hill Education. He is also a senior advisor to Overtime Sports, a new sports network for young, digital-native sports fans.
Vanessa is President of NEW YOU BRANDS, a newly created division of Great HealthWorks. GHW is one of the nation’s premier D2C companies, manufacturers of supplements and wellness products. She leads innovation, sales and marketing for core products, and growth categories. She has a 25-year career in retail and beverage brands, known as an expert brand builder and strategist and a passionate advocate for better-for-you products.
Lead Scientific Advisor
Executive with over 20 years of building value in early stage life science technologies-- from sourcing to commercialization. Skilled leader in managing complex scientific and business relationships to launch projects into products. Led cross functional teams to conduct due diligence and technology assessments, prototype development, and proof of concept studies. Strong track record in concluding negotiations and transactions for licensing, sponsored research, and strategic alliances in pharma, biotech, and academia.
Kathy Walker is a managing director at OpenAir Equity Partners and serves on both public, private and not-for-profit boards. In addition, she is the President of the Board of Trustees at the Missouri School of Science and Technology as well as a member of South Dakota State University’s Council of Trustees. She is also a board member for the NACD Heartland Chapter. Kathy is an expert in technology-based services and enjoys the challenges of supporting early stage firms. Her extensive career in telecommunications spanned many technology introductions and included roles that were both strategic and operational. Her final role at Sprint was the combined responsibilities of both Chief Network Officer and Chief Information officer.
Heidi is currently Chief Commercialization Officer at Kenzen, a personal monitoring platform combining a wearable biosensor driven device combined with predictive modeling that alerts users to health and safety risks. Heidi is a mobile platform and media entrepreneur with two exits, one to AOL for more than $100M. She serves as an advisor to several wearable VC funds.
Paula is the founder of Nutribloom Consulting, an innovation and marketing firm specializing in nutricosmetics and natural health products. With global recognition as a nutrition, product development and branding expert, she has combined her scientific and holistic background to create some of the most successful nutricosmetic and beauty wellness brands. Paula is an author and sought-after expert for popular broadcast, digital and print publications.Paula is the founder of Nutribloom Consulting, an innovation and marketing firm specializing in nutricosmetics and natural health products. With global recognition as a nutrition, product development and branding expert, she has combined her scientific and holistic background to create some of the most successful nutricosmetic and beauty wellness brands. Paula is an author and sought-after expert for popular broadcast, digital and print publications.
Director of Finance & Operations
Austin has always had a passion for financial strategy, specifically analyzing numbers to implement the best course of action in business and operations. While attending school at Columbia College, Austin worked as a teller and went on to gain experience in several departments within banking including; consumer banking and lending before eventually becoming a licensed financial advisor. After six years in the banking industry, Austin left to pursue opportunities in insurance and marketing before deciding to go back to school. He earned an MBA through the UMKC Bloch School of Management on full scholarship with a focus on Entrepreneurship/Innovation and Finance before joining Tohi as the Finance and Operations Director.
Graphic Designer & Photographer
Isaac Carlos was born in the city of Jalpa in Zacatecas, Mexico and moved to Houston, Texas as a child. His passion for art led him to move to Kansas City, Missouri in 2013 to attend the Kansas City Art Institute where he graduated with a BFA in Graphic Design. Isaac originally pursued a degree in fine art, but switched his focus when he realized it was less accessible than graphic design and he wanted to channel his creativity towards work that was functional in an every day environment. He has received recognition for his work as a Cary C. Goodman Grant recipient and was one of the GDUSA Magazine Students to Watch in 2017. In his free time, he enjoys cooking Mexican food, making art, dancing with friends, and hosting watch parties for boxing events.
Tohi is committed to innovating premium consumer products that contribute to healthier world and represent the perfect blend of nature and science. We hold true to these values.
Innovative and support efforts that function to advance human health.
Act with integrity and be helpful.
Honor/treasure nature, heritage and our environment. Take time to be in awe.
Strive for purpose, creativity, passion and curiosity: push for more.
Learn from disappointments & focus on accomplishing goals.
Tohi is proud to partner with these amazing organizations.