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Northwestern University

Weinberg Grad Among Fortune’s “40 Under 40”

Trevor Nelson ’00 applies the skills he gained as a political science major to drive the growth of branded consumer companies

Alongside the likes of music megastar Taylor Swift, Fitbit co-founder and CEO James Park, and Eventbrite co-founder Julia Hartz, Trevor Nelson stands with some star-studded company on Fortune’s 2015 “40 Under 40” list.

The 2000 Weinberg graduate, who doubled as a political science major and soccer standout for the Wildcats, captured a spot on the esteemed honor roll of influential young business tycoons alongside his Alliance Consumer Growth (ACG) co-founders Julian Steinberg and Josh Goldin.

The trio’s New York-based investment firm helps propel the growth of energetic consumer brands and boasts a portfolio that includes Shake Shack, Krave jerky and juice brand Suja.

Nelson discusses the creation of ACG, his work at the firm and the important role his Weinberg education continues to play in his professional ascent.

How did ACG come to be?

In 2010, Josh and I were working together at The Lessing Companies, a family investment group, and had an opportunity to invest in Babyganics, a line of safe personal care products for children. That deal was actually brought to us by Julian. We all loved the business and took it out to other investors, soon realizing that the three of us should be working together. We created ACG in 2011 and, to date, we have 12 investments between two funds.

How do you describe what ACG does?

On one hand, we’re talent scouts looking for exciting, high-growth branded consumer companies. On the other, we look to be brand builders, great partners who can help these companies fulfill their potential by bringing capital and strategic direction in areas such as brand development, teambuilding, sales and marketing.

What do you think drove your selection to the Fortune list?

It’s our association with a group of brands that are all changing the markets they’re in, brands representing the current and future psychology of consumers. Take a company like barkTHINS: it’s a craveable snack food product, but also has a responsible management team that has chosen the high road regarding production. The product is non-GMO, uses fair trade dark chocolate and has a simple ingredient panel, so it checks important boxes for current consumers.

What role did Weinberg play in your development?

The rigorous and broad education at Weinberg armed me with a dynamic set of problem-solving tools that I’m using every day. When you have such a diverse academic background, you’re better able to connect dots and see how things interrelate.

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