Tohi is a female-founded wellness brand, innovating antioxidant-focused consumer products. Tohi beverages are just the first realization of the Tohi vision – to be a platform for Aronia-based products utilizing the entire plant in applications ranging from nutraceuticals to nutricosmetics. Tohi works directly with Aronia growers in the Midwest to support their sustainable growing practices. We also support the discovery of what makes Aronia so special through our research partnership with the EC Lee Lab at the University of Connecticut. https://www.ecleelab.com
Tohi Ventures is the creation of two female friends, each with significant healthcare, entrepreneurial and investment experience and a shared philosophy of a nutrition first approach to wellness.
They were motivated to create a ready-to-drink, antioxidant-rich beverage knowing that antioxidants have broad human health benefits and are under emphasized in Western diets. While researching ingredients, they read about a specialty crop emerging in the Midwest – Aronia. They fell in love with both the history of Aronia combined with the significant research around its unique nutritional profile and health benefits. Finding few consumer products featuring Aronia, they realized the opportunity to create a brand to bring Aronia-based products to a broad consumer audience.
SHARI COULTER FORD
CEO & Co-Founder
Shari is an experienced equity investor, entrepreneur, corporate executive, non-proﬁt board chair and intrapreneur. She has led healthcare related investments for a NYC-based private investment fund and was CEO of New York City’s ﬁrst, VC-backed accelerator for early stage tech companies.
Shari is a graduate of the Wharton Management program and has a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Shari and her husband are devoted cyclists having logged more than 15,000 miles together on roads and trails.
“Tohi is the perfect expression of the conﬂuence of my experiences and inﬂuences: including my grandparents farm, my love of the outdoors, my passion for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and my career focused on building and innovating.”
ELMA HAWKINS Ph.D
Elma has more than 35 years of experience in biotechnology drug development, corporate development, fundraising and general management, with a special focus on oncology.
Dr. Hawkins holds multiple degrees including a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry and has served in a number of senior positions in corporate development, strategic planning, preclinical and clinical research.
A ﬁrm believer in a balanced life, Elma is a passionate pianist as well as an enthusiastic modiste, who creates her own clothing designs.
“I have seen ﬁrsthand the positive impact of empowered personal health awareness. My goal is to maximize the potential health beneﬁts of Aronia Berries and introduce them to a larger audience. I truly believe Tohi is the perfect blend of nature and science.”
BOARD and ADVISORS
For more than 44 years, Jim has served the private sector as a brand and marketing development professional and Founder and President of HealthyBrandBuilders. He directs the building and design of national infrastructures for food and beverage industry clients. Tonkin has successfully created and implemented business and financial strategies for domestic and international players focusing from production to branding, marketing through sales implementation and distribution, to include exit strategy. Tonkin has focused branding initiatives in soft drink, bottled water, functional foods and beverages, and non- carbonated “new age” beverage verticals.
His extensive hands-on expertise has stretched across many sectors including domestic cheeses to natural potato chips; bottled waters for people and pets; and nutraceutical-functional-cosmeceutical enhanced beverages. Jim serves as a popular keynote speaker covering new beverage trends, successful branding insight and with his blunt and sometimes stinging humor, pushes the envelope! He has many repeat performances and is truly a respected and admired entrepreneur in his own right!
Vanessa was named one of the most influential women in the beverage industry. Her work has received praise from industry and consumer groups alike. There are few who have reached Vanessa’s position in the industry – successful brand builder, passionate advocate for better-for-you products, exceptional strategist, inspired leader, with a desire to deliver results and propel brands to unprecedented growth.
Jonathan Mariner is a private investor, entrepreneur, and independent board member with two decades of experience working in major league sports. Jonathan graduated from the University of Virginia with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and received his MBA from Harvard Business School. He’s been featured on the cover of CFO Magazine and made the top 10 in Sports Illustrated’s annual listing of the “101 Most Influential Minorities in Sports.”
Before retiring from Major League Baseball (MLB) in 2016, he served as chief investment officer (CIO) overseeing approximately $2 billion combined league-wide pension assets and MLB’s strategic investment fund. Prior to his time as CIO, Jonathan spent more than 12 years as executive vice president and chief financial officer (CFO) of MLB.
He currently sits on the board of directors of McGraw-Hill Education; the Investor’s Exchange (IEX); and the cloud-based HR and payroll company Ultimate Software.
Lead Scientific Advisor
Donna has over 20 years of building value in early stage life science technologies—from sourcing to commercialization. She is a skilled leader in managing complex scientific and business relationships to launch projects into products and has led cross functional teams to conduct due diligence and technology assessments, prototype development, and proof of concept studies. She has a strong track record in concluding negotiations and transactions for licensing, sponsored research, and strategic alliances in pharma, biotech, and academia.
Kathy has over 25 years of technology experience in the communications sector and nine years of board service in public and private companies. She is a graduate in Civil Engineering from South Dakota State University and holds her Master of Science in Engineering Management from Missouri S&T. 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.
Currently, Kathy is managing director at OpenAir Equity Partners and serves on both public, private and not for profit boards.
Director of Finance & Operations
Austin has more than five years of business development and finance experience. A firm believer in building and cultivating relationships, he has been recognized several times for improving processes, increasing customer engagement and community involvement.
Austin graduated from the UMKC Bloch School of Management with a focus on Entrepreneurship/Innovation. He’s a dedicated KC sports fan, fitness enthusiast and enjoys being outdoors in his free time.
“I joined Tohi because of my belief in our mission of a nutrition first approach to wellness and the opportunity to be a part of building something great from the ground floor in KC.”
Social Media & Content Strategist
Madison graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in Journalism. An avid writer and social media enthusiast, she has worked as a reporter for several publications and was part of a team of women that founded their own magazine in partnership with Meredith Corporation.
Along with writing a novel in her free time, she is an enthusiastic traveler, reader and frequent companion to her dog, Penny.
“I believe in what Tohi stands for and the products that are made for people just like me. I’m surrounded by dedicated people that care about health and wellness and that makes all the difference.”
Sales & Marketing Associate
Jade graduated from Kansas State University with a degree in Marketing and a certificate in Professional Strategic Selling. She has a knack for cultivating relationships and a strong interest in consumer behavior. Over the years, she has been recognized for various leadership awards including the Veryl & Fern Switzer Campus Leadership Award, Women’s Soccer Leadership Award, Leadership Council and KSU Women’s Soccer Captain. Jade has 18 years of experience playing soccer, including her time at D1 Kansas State University where she helped start the inaugural women’s soccer program and co-developed the women’s soccer student-athlete development program.
Along with being an enthusiastic foodie who loves to cook, she enjoys spending time with family, reading, traveling and attending concerts.
“I was drawn to Tohi because of the unique opportunity to join a startup and influence the lives of consumers directly while representing a product that is true to its name.”
Sales & Marketing Associate
Abby graduated from K-State with a degree in Kinesiology and a certificate in Professional Strategic Selling. In addition, Abby has 18 years of experience playing soccer. This includes her time playing D1 at the University of Arkansas and K-State. While at KSU, she was Team Captain and helped start the Women’s Inaugural Soccer Program. She was also a part of the Leadership Council and made it on the Academic All Big 12 First Team. Abby is a Kansas City native and in her free time she loves to spend time with her friends and family, watch sports, and soak up the outdoors!
“Tohi fully embodies a healthy active lifestyle which is what I was so drawn to given my academic and athletic background. It’s a unique opportunity to really make a positive impact on the daily lives of our consumers!”
Graphic Designer & Photographer
Isaac Carlos is a Mexican-born graphic designer and visual artist currently based in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the Kansas City Art Institute with a BFA in 2017 with a strong background in editorial design, print design, branding, exhibition design and advertising. He is at his best when he uses his curiosity to explore new information and narratives. When Isaac is not designing, he is passionate about food, fashion, culture, travel, and spending time in the kitchen recreating his family’s traditional Mexican recipes
Tohi is a captivating brand to me because the company genuinely values the health of their customers as well as the environment by providing a product that benefits the lives of their consumers. Tohi is on a mission to add something refreshing and enjoyable to the market, which is something I am proud to be a part of.
Tohi is committed to innovating premium consumer products that contribute to a healthier world and represent the perfect blend of nature and science. We hold true to these values.
Innovate 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.