We are catalysts who transform ideas into reality. With experience in Fortune 100 companies as well as startups, we uniquely know the ins and outs of both worlds. As experts in business strategy, food and beverage, and consumer products, we're ready to help you overcome challenges to deliver strong growth.
Ross Shell Founder + CEO
Ross has spent his professional career as a marketer and business strategist, as well as an entrepreneur and venture investor. His career has included serving as President of Tesser, a nationally regarded branding firm focused on the restaurant and food sectors, and working for IDEO, a global innovation consultancy. Prior to launching Red Idea LLC, he directed client services for a private investment firm which managed a platform of hedge fund and private equity products, with offices in the U.S., U.K., Asia and Canada. During his tenure, the firm grew from $250 million to a peak of nearly $700 million in assets under management.
In 2008, Ross launched Red Idea LLC, a "consulting + ventures works" firm, serving growth companies, entrepreneurs and now corporate innovators. He has served on the Advisory Board for Bhakti Chai, Board of Directors for Natural Foodworks Group, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for Olomomo Nut Company. He is a strategic advisor to Green Alpha Advisors, a public equity investor in eco-efficient corporations. As a volunteer, he served on the Advisory Board of the Innovation Center for the St. Vrain Valley School District. Ross serves as an Independent Director for Financial Investors Trust, an affiliate of ALPS Holdings, where he helps oversee approximately $13 billion in assets.
Ross was a Boettcher Scholar award winner, and graduated with honors from Stanford University in 1993. He lives in the Boulder area with his wife and two sons. He is also the author of Cooper's Crafted and Curious Kite Company, a children's book on entrepreneurship and innovation, with copyrights owned by Red Idea LLC.
Ethan is deeply involved in Red Idea's venture works, including leading the Mighty Spirits project and advising portfolio companies. He also provides operative support to Red Idea's consulting practice and the firm itself. Ethan joined Red Idea in 2018 after more than two decades as a corporate and transactional lawyer on Wall Street. Before law school, Ethan was an engineer in Southern California.
Ethan earned a BS in civil engineering from Ohio State University and a law degree from Yale Law School. He enjoys spending time in his mountain house near Nathrop, Colorado with his wife and rescue dogs, and his two adult sons, when they have time to visit.
Marketing + Operations Catalyst
Brandt joined Red Idea Partners in early 2017 with a diverse background in both scrappy startups and large corporations. Growing up in a small, family thrift store business he developed an entrepreneurial spirit that has left him endlessly curious. Brandt now supports Red Idea on multiple levels including graphic design, research, and a wide variety of operational activities.
Prior to Red Idea, Brandt worked numerous jobs throughout his collegiate career at CU Boulder. He was a butcher at Whole Foods Market, assisted in the strategic growth of Shinesty through marketing outreach & research, warehouse & inventory organization, and shipping logistics. Shinesty has since grown from three guys operating out of a friend's garage with limited product SKUs to a multi-million dollar company with over 30 team members and its own TV show on MTV.
Brandt also worked with Warren Miller Entertainment, creating graphic content and designing market-specific slideshows to be played at each venue of Warren Miller’s 66th annual film, Chasing Shadows.
Brandt graduated in 2016 from the Leeds School of Business at CU Boulder with degrees in Operations and HR Management. He also earned a certificate in Technology, Arts, and Media through the CU Boulder ATLAS Institute.
Matt Bonoma joined Red Idea in 2009 after completing his MBA with a focus in Entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Matt works across many of Red Idea’s consulting and venture engagements in addition to helping manage the day-to-day operations of Red Idea. In addition to his duties as General Manager, Matt focuses on strategic growth planning for Red Idea’s venture-backed businesses, as well as due diligence and financial planning/pro forma projections. Matt has worked extensively with many food and beverage businesses focused primarily in the natural and organic industries.
Matt earned his BA in Economics from Emory University and worked as the Operations/General Manager for a telecommunications firm outside of Boston before moving to Colorado to pursue his MBA.
With more than 30 years’ experience in the food industry, Alan Murray is a strong leader in innovation strategies, business development and management. As CEO of NextFoods, Inc., Alan was intricately involved with the creation of GoodBelly products and continues to lead the company through its rapid growth, engaging with key retailers, investors, and suppliers.
Prior to joining NextFoods and its GoodBelly brand, Alan served as CEO of Tetra Pak North America, the world leader in processing and packaging systems for the food industry, with sales exceeding $13B. Alan also held leadership roles with Tetra Pak in Southern Africa and Central Europe, as well as Marketing roles at Unilever in Africa and Europe. Alan is the former Chairman and Cofounder of the North American Carton Council, an industry group formed to stimulate the recycling of beverage cartons. He is also an active board member in the natural food and packaging industries.
Originally from South Africa, Alan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry from the University of Cape Town. With a background spanning Europe, Africa, and America, he also brings a broad geographic coverage and knowledge to the table with experience in small, large, private and public companies. In his free time, Alan enjoys skiing, golfing, and playing tennis (so long as he’s winning). And if asked nicely, he does public speaking engagements about his passion for African wildlife, comparing their behaviors to those seen in management teams and board rooms.
Mike Murray, CEO of Teton Waters Ranch, was recently hand-selected to set, lead and execute an inspiring new Vision and Growth Plan for the leading grass-fed beef solutions company. Mike is a 20 year CPG veteran with a passion for leading mission-driven food brands to the ethical definition of success.
After 10 years successfully growing iconic brands like Betty Crocker, Nature Valley and LARABAR at General Mills, he transitioned to the natural side of the industry to lead So Delicious Dairy Free from $54 to $195 MM in 3 years.
Having driven the successful SDDF exit and integration into White Wave Foods, Mike was recruited to leverage his proven leadership, team-building, innovation strategy and brand-building skills as CEO of high-growth free-from snacking brand free2b Foods.
Now, as TWR’s CEO, Mike and team are working diligently against their mission to create a more regenerative, humane, healthy food system for all.
Mike earned his MBA at UCLA, and lives in the Front Range with his wife Sunshine and three sons Sean, Kyle & Connor. They love enjoying the CO outdoors together, from team sports to hiking, biking and skiing.
Ken Calwell was Chief Executive Officer and President of Papa Murphy’s International, the #1 consumer rated pizza chain in the United States. In 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010, Papa Murphy’s was rated the #1 chain overall and rated #1 in taste, quality, and value by Nation’s Restaurant News Consumer Picks Survey and by Technomic’s Consumer Survey. Additionally in 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012, Papa Murphy’s was recognized by ZAGAT, Technomic, and Nation’s Restaurant News as one of the Top 5 Overall limited service restaurant chains across all food categories.
Under Ken’s leadership, Papa Murphy’s continued its impressive growth in 2015, achieving 19 straight consecutive quarters of positive comp store sales increases and 3-year combined comp sales growth of 11.4 percent. The company has more than 1,500 franchised and corporate-owned pizza stores in 38 states, Canada, and the United Arab Emirates. Taking a hands-on approach to management, Calwell frequently visits Papa Murphy’s store locations, regularly working alongside the employees. Papa Murphy’s core purpose is to “bring families together through food people love.”
In 2014, Ken prepared to take the private company public through an initial public offering (IPO), and achieved this goal with a successful $64 million IPO on May 2, 2014 and a follow on $50 million secondary in 2015. Papa Murphy’s trades on the NASDAQ stock market under the ticker symbol: FRSH.
Calwell joined Papa Murphy’s in 2011 as President and was promoted to CEO and President in December, 2011. He brings over 30 years of leadership experience at large quick service restaurant chains and blue-chip consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands. This includes his most recent role at Wendy’s International as Chief Marketing Officer and EVP of Research and Development. Ken led the development of Wendy’s new brand growth strategy, including the successful testing and national rollout of New Natural Cut Sea Salt Fries, New Fresh Premium Salad line, Dave’s Premium Hamburger line, and the Super Value Menu. Prior to joining Wendy’s, Ken was the Chief Marketing Officer and EVP of Research and Development at Domino’s Pizza where he was part of the leadership team that led the company through a business and brand turnaround, the testing and successful launch of Online Ordering and Digital Marketing, and a successful IPO in 2004. Ken has also held leadership positions at Frito Lay, Pizza Hut, and The Pillsbury Company.
A native of Topeka, Kansas, Calwell earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from Washburn University in 1984 and a Masters in Business Administration from Indiana University in 1986.
Ken has served as a Board Member on the Papa Murphy’s Board of Directors since 2011.
Ken, his wife of 22 years, Sandy, and their 19 year old son live in Vancouver, Washington.