Get To Know KEEN

KEEN Growth Capital is led by passionate entrepreneurs and seasoned experts who have driven innovation from early stage companies through Fortune 500 brands. The team has a deep understanding of operational excellence and brings multifaceted functional knowledge to the portfolio brands.

As investors, we have consistently produced venture returns well above market average. 

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jonathan smiga    

Co-Founder & Managing Partner

With more than 25 years of experience in the food, beverage and retail industries, Jonathan has a track record for building business and brands. He's held senior positions with legacy brands, like the Culinary Institute of America, Darden Restaurants, Disney, Illy Espresso, Robert Mondavi and Williams-Somona. Throughout his career he's successfully led finance, marketing, manufacturing, operations, business development and culinary programs. His wide range of skills are utilized at KEEN as he nurtures investor relationships and guides portfolio companies.

He believes in the "full circle of impact." Developing companies that have a positive influence on people, giving back to charitable organizations and providing guidance to entrepreneurs.

In addition to his corporate roles, Jonathan supports non-profits focused on the arts, education and food insecurity. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Art & History Museums of Maitland and on the New College Foundation Board of Directors for the New College of Florida.

Jonathan is a chef, wine enthusiast and co-founder of Dept. C Wines, inspired by the "Golden Slopes" of France's Burgundy region. Jonathan was raised in northern New Jersey and he graduated from the New College of Florida, the prestigious Cornell Hotel School, and earned an M.B.A. from the New York University Stern School of Business. Jonathan resides just north of Orlando, where he owns a horse farm with his partner Christine.  


JERRY BELLO

Co-FOUNDER & Managing PARTNER

Jerry is KEEN's co-founder and life-long entrepreneur and is renowned in the healthy snacking space. Much of his inspiration comes from his training in life sciences as a pharmacist, which is complimented by his love of food and fascination with manufacturing processes. In 1991 he founded his first company, IntraCare, a home health care provider. Jerry grew the company until it was acquired by Pediatric Services of America in 1997.

Jerry is a food innovator himself. In 1999, he created a biscotti business called Mamma Says, based on his own recipes. This company was acquired by Nonni's Food Company. He went on to invent Veggie Straw and Pita Bites which grew to be an internationally-recognized business and was purchased by the Hain Celestial Group.  Most recently, he was inspired by a trip to Italy to create a chip made out of hard semolina wheat - the same as pasta. Vintage Italia Pasta Chips launched in 2013 and has become a growing success that now includes Veggie Pasta Chips and Bow Ties.

He has been described as "A foodie and serial entrepreneur behind a number of enormously popular snack-food successes." 

"I've learned a lot through trial and error in business - and it can be brutal," Jerry says. "If I can help an entrepreneur avoid those mistakes, I want to do that." Because of his background working in healthcare, impact investing is a passion, creating businesses that benefit society's health is at the core of his value system.

Jerry is a wine collector, husband, father of four and a world traveler. He was raised in northern New Jersey and is a graduate of Rutgers University College of Pharmaceutical sciences. He resides in Windermere, Florida - but is still proud of his New Jersey heritage.