Chobani CEO unveils 2016-17 incubator class: ‘I don’t think there’s ever been a better time to be a food start up’

By Elaine Watson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya: 'We’re excited to help like-minded companies with heart and bright ideas take off'
Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya: 'We’re excited to help like-minded companies with heart and bright ideas take off'

Related tags: 2016

The first wave of entrepreneurial food companies selected by Chobani founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya to participate in Chobani's new food incubator scheme include chickpea pasta brand Banza and bone broth brand Kettle & Fire.

Designed to help entrepreneurial food companies “disrupt their respective categories,” ​the scheme enables the six winners (shortlisted from 400+ entries) to spend six months working with Chobani’s leadership team, getting advice on team building and scaling; brand and marketing; packaging and pricing; sales and retail strategy; innovation and manufacturing; food quality and safety; and nutrition and food labeling.

The six participants in the inaugural incubator program – running from October 2016 to March 2017 – are:

  • Banza (chickpea pasta)
  • CHOPS Snacks (jerky snacks)
  • Cissé Cocoa Co (organic chocolate)
  • JAR Goods (specialty foods in jars)
  • Kettle & Fire ( grass-fed bone broth)
  • Misfit Juicery (cold-pressed juices)

They will benefit from:

  • A $25,000 grant to help grow the business (equity free capital with no strings attached).
  • Travel & hotel expenses for travel from their business location to Chobani NY and/or other visits, such as to Chobani’s facilities in Twin Falls and Upstate NY
  • The Chobani SoHo site as an office and mentorship pad
  • 6-month incubator space from October 2016 to March 2017, online and on-site
  • 2-3 team members participating on-site with key Chobani team members
  • Monthly programs at Chobani locations across the U.S., including manufacturing facilities and a dedicated space in Chobani’s New York offices
  • The opportunity to showcase their wares at EXPO West in Anaheim, CA, in March 2017.

“We’ve learned a lot in the past nine years about what it takes and what it means start a food revolution,” ​said Ulukaya.

“There are some really inspiring ideas out there and the first six have the potential and opportunity to really shake things up in their categories. I don’t think there’s ever been a better time to be a food start up in this country, and we’re excited to help like-minded companies with heart and bright ideas take off.”

Chobani incubator details

Asked whether Chobani was interested in taking equity stakes in companies it mentors further down the line, a spokesman said: "We created the incubator to help mentor and support entrepreneurs and small food companies with big hearts and ideas, follow the path to challenge the food industry, improve broken systems and make a difference—and that mission remains the same since we first announced the initiative.

"We are not taking a stake in any of the start-ups, although we will not rule out a business partnership down the line."

For more information, click HERE.   

Related topics: Manufacturers, Yogurt and Desserts

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