Husband and Wife Co-Founders Javier Marriott and Ruth Stedman with their pup, Lola, are the founders of Groccery Pup, a healthy and fresh dog food brand

By LAURA LOREK, publisher of Silicon Hills News

Austin is known as a high-tech hub of innovative startups.

But it’s also the birthplace of many consumer-packaged goods like Siete Family Foods, a Mexican-American food brand, that just landed $90 million in funding. It makes grain free chips, grain free tortillas, hot sauces, cashew queso and more.

Siete graduated from the Austin-based SKU Accelerator, which is a 12-week program with a stipend focused on helping consumer products-based startups expand.

Other products to launch out of SKU include Shade Tree Lemonade, Austin Eastciders, Seaweed Bath Co. and Sway Water to name a few.

This week, SKU officially launched its seventh accelerator cohort with seven startups at a meet and greet party Tuesday night at Meet at Relay in Springdale General on Austin’s eastside. SKU selected Bhoomi Cane Water, Grocery Pup, Lamik Beauty, Pure Active CBD, Stackables, White’s Pickle Salsa and YVY.

Lamik Beauty is a vegan, non-toxic cosmetic line for women of color. The SKU accelerator will help Lamik expand, said Kim Roxie, its founder. She’s from Houston and used to run a retail cosmetics store, but she shut it down to make her own cosmetics line. Lamik has participated in DivInc and the SputnikATX accelerator programs.

SKU picked Lamik and the other six companies from more than 400 applications for its latest cohort.

Ruth Stedman and her husband Javier Marriott are also in the program with their startup, Grocery Pup. They created a healthy line of dog food made with human grade ingredients in a USDA human food facility in Round Rock. They didn’t like the highly processed dog food with bad ingredients that they found in most grocery stores. So, they created their own for their pup, Lola, a three-year-old Pomeranian Husky.

“We wanted her to eat fresh foods like us,” Stedman said.

Grocery Pup is going to be sold at Whole Foods in Austin starting next week and is currently available online. It comes in frozen one-pound pouches, which sell for $8.95 or a bigger three-pound bags with three pouches with real beef, turkey and pork flavors for $29.99. The food is cooked sous-vide style to ensure maximum freshness.

“SKU has a lot of experience scaling brands,” Stedman said. The goal is for Grocery Pup to go nationwide via retail stores, she said.

Stackables is a portable and modular gas grill for tailgating or camping, said Megan Grigsby, marketing director. One-unit costs $399, and the company is currently taking pre-orders, she said.

“It’s a heavy-duty grill that has a large cooking area and is going to last you a long time,” Grigsby said.

What Stackables hopes to get out of SKU is to really narrow down its target market, Grigsby said. And establish a scalable go to market strategy, she said.

Third generation farmer, Jon Kelley, decided to diversify his crop last year from soybeans and wheat to industrial hemp at his family farm in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. His company is Pure Active CBD.

The Hemp Farming Act in the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp, defined as cannabis with a low concentration of THC, from Schedule 1 controlled substances and made it a regular agricultural commodity. It became legal last December.

Hemp has a lot of uses, Kelley said. He’s extracting CBD oil from the plant and putting into CBD-infused carbonated watermelon and citrus flavored waters.

His water, KAVVA, is in development right now and he plans to have it available for a pilot run in the can by March 5th, Kelley said. It will be available for retail sale in Austin and that’s why he’s in SKU to help him roll it out through distributors and stores, he said.

His product, KAVVA, is going all the way from seed on his farm to shelf in the stores, Kelley said.

The other SKU companies are:

Bhoomi Cane Water which is made from cold-pressed fresh sugar cane from local farmers.

White’s Pickle Salsa, a women-owned business based in Waco, Texas that provides a unique alternative to traditional tomato-based salsa.

YVY, a subscription-based, home cleaning product that uses an organic formula that does not harm people, kids or pets.