Rafael De La Cruz
General Partner, Universal Brand Ventures
Serial entrepreneur, angel investor and strategic advisor with over two decades of experience in marketing innovation, Rafael has led teams in successfully launching and branding a variety of products, creating new categories and effectively connecting with the most elusive audiences. He serves as a member of the investor selection committee for the Arcview Group and is an executive advisor to the Southern California Cannabis Business & Investment Group.
After a period of consulting several tech startups, Rafael joined the team that re-booted Pepsi's Mountain Dew utilizing action sports, urban music and influencer culture (Do the Dew!), taking it from obscurity to the Number 4 position in the carbonated soft drink category. He was brought on to manage and execute several national client programs including the development of Marlboro's on-premise strategy for Philip-Morris International, Spanish language field marketing for Johnson & Johnson's Tylenol and nightlife influencer projects for various Diageo and Bacardi brands.
Mr. De La Cruz was recruited to be part of the core marketing team at glacéau - makers of vitaminwater & smartwater. Rafael created and executed a series of both sales & marketing initiatives that supported the company's doubling of revenue year after year, resulting in the largest acquisition of its kind in the beverage category ($4.2 billion) by The Coca-Cola Company (KO - NYSE). Rafael has since then held several executive positions overseeing marketing and operations with early stage companies. He manages capital, strategy and advisory services thru Universal Brand Ventures for early stage companies in the cannabis industry.