Operating Partner

Tom First

(617) 630-2441

I spend my time at Castanea working alongside our partner companies and searching for the next great food and beverage brand.

As an operating partner, I’m able to share my experiences in the industry to help founders develop their brands and teams, and build their companies.

I joined Castanea in 2016. Prior to Castanea, I was one of the two founders of Nantucket Nectars, which my partner and I grew for fourteen years and ultimately sold to Cadbury Schweppes in 2002. After being involved with several other food and beverage start-ups as a founder, investor, and board member, I became the Managing Partner at First Beverage Ventures where I helped to raise the first fund and made five investments in beverage companies. While at First Beverage, we co-invested in Essentia Water with Castanea, and I learned about the firm, the team, and their incredible work with brands and partners.

I have great passion for the food and beverage industry. The industry is dynamic, and current founders and innovators are driving incredible change in the way we think about what we eat and drink. I’ve had the privilege of working with great brands like Nantucket Nectars, O Water, Health-Ade Kombucha, and Sweet Leaf Tea. I’m currently working with Yasso, Brew Dr. Kombucha, Essentia Water, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, and The Bruery.

I earned a BA in American History at Brown University and thankfully received a passing grade in the Business School of Hard Knocks. I grew up in the Boston area and now live in Concord, MA, with my wife, three kids, and two Portuguese water dogs.


Yasso is a brand of frozen Greek yogurt desserts that is available in all major grocery and club stores within the United States.

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Brew Dr. Kombucha produces 100% raw, organic kombucha (fermented tea) in a variety of flavors that is distributed across the U.S. and Canada.

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Essentia produces ionized alkaline water. Its proprietary process transforms water from any source into supercharged ionized alkaline water with 9.5 pH or higher.

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Jeni’s is a modern American ice cream company with over 30 scoop shops, growing distribution in top grocery stores across the country, and an online store.

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The Bruery is a producer of premium specialty craft beers. The company specializes in barrel-aged and sour beers, and creates complex flavors from simple ingredients.

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