Chobani reveals its largest incubator class

By Mary Ellen Shoup contact

- Last updated on GMT

Chobani said it plans to introduce two incubator classes per year to expand the program’s impact.
Chobani said it plans to introduce two incubator classes per year to expand the program’s impact.
Chobani’s third and largest incubator class for Spring 2018 includes nine “purpose-driven” food and beverage startups selected by CEO Hamdi Ulukaya based on their potential to transform traditional product categories.

“Hamdi knows what challenges these founders trying to get food companies off the ground face,”​ Chobani incubator director Jackie Miller told DairyReporter.

“We are an equity free incubator, we are really all about paying it forward. Helping out food entrepreneurs across categories is what motivates us.”

The third incubator class was announced at Expo West in Anaheim, California, and the program will run from April 2018 to July 2018 based out of a dedicated workspace at Chobani’s sales and marketing offices in New York City.

The Incubator’s first class, which included startups like Misfit Juicery and Banza, has seen a more than 250% increase in distribution and 2.6x growth in annual revenue, according to Chobani.

Now in its third cycle, Chobani plans to start introducing two incubator classes per year to expand the program’s impact, according to Miller.

A closer look at the startups selected:

• 88 Acres (Allston, Massachusetts): ​Nutritious snacks and seed butters made with simple ingredients and free from the 11 most common food allergens, including gluten, nuts, dairy and soy

• Fresh Bellies (White Plains, New York): ​A line of organic baby food that doesn't mask vegetables with fruit and uses herbs and spices

• Masienda (Los Angeles, California): ​Clean-label tortilla company with ‘unprecedented sourcing’ that partners with farmers in the US and Mexico

• NOKA (Pacific Palisades, California): ​Superfood smoothie packs made with organic whole fruits and veggies

• Nona Lim (Oakland, California): ​products such as Asian-inspired soups, noodles, and broths that have no additives, no preservatives, and are dairy-free

• Puffworks (Portland, Oregon): ​Peanut butter puffs providing plant-based protein available in original, dark chocolate, and honey

• Remedy Organics (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey): ​Plant-based beverages with ‘highly potent superfoods’, ayurvedic herbs, botanicals, protein, and probiotics

• teaRIOT (Marina del Rey, California): ​Fresh tea blends flavored by a blend of cold-pressed, organic fruits, botanicals and veggies

• Wildway (San Antonio, Texas): ​A better-for-you breakfast & snack food company

2018 Cohort

What stood out to Chobani?

The selection process was a bit stiffer this year as the program received over 650 applications – a 30% increase from last year.

“In terms of criteria it always comes back to Chobani’s mission of better food for more people,”​ Miller told DairyReporter.

“We really look at the founders themselves to find really passionate, purpose-driven founders that are motivated by a problem in the world of food that they want to solve.”

Food issues such as sustainability, waste, providing healthier alternative, and making food more affordable are some key themes that Chobani tunes into during the startup selection process, according to Miller.

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