An increasing number of brands and corporations today are veering towards the entrepreneur trend. In the last few years, the gap between large, traditional corporations and fresh startups seems to be being bridged with collaborations that benefit the short-term as well as long-term interests of both.
This trend is more pronounced across the Europe and US. Big businesses like GE (GE Ventures), Intel (Intel Capital), SAP (SAP Startup Focus Program) and Unilever (Unilever Foundry) already have committed to funding startups and innovations.
A major addition to the venture capital scene is consumer giant Coca-Cola, with its Coca-Cola Founders Program.
Watch the Video: Coca-Cola Founders
Building the Co-Founder Network
Coca-Cola has been working with mature startups for a while, and now with the Coca-Cola Founders program, the company is shifting to an approach that involves working with entrepreneurs before they actually launch a startup.
The program will provide funds ranging from $1 to $1M, along with its resources and expertise to help entrepreneurs bring their ideas to reality.
With this new model, Coca-Cola is reaching out exclusively to entrepreneurs with significant experience in running companies that focus on low spends and high speed.
The first step in the search – going to the right city, with “either the most established or the fastest growing startup communities” according to Coca-Cola’s VP of Innovation & Entrepreneurship David Butler.
Coca-Cola presents what they’re looking for and welcomes on board entrepreneurs with ideas to solve some of Coca-Cola’s biggest challenges, and ideas that can make an impact beyond Coca-Cola.
The founders maintain the right to their intellectual property, and Coca-Cola steps back from directly controlling any of the projects.
Over year after its 2013 launch, Coca-Cola has founders working in nine major cities across the world – Berlin, Buenos Aires, London, Mexico City, Singapore, Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco, Sydney and Tel Aviv.
Designed for Scale
The program already has a number of ideas in development around the world: like Winnin – a Rio de Janeiro-based video ranking website, iHydrate– a Sydney-based hydration biosensor and Home Eat Home– a Berlin-based food supplier
The ideas might not seem aligned to Coca-Cola’s business… or is it?
Take for example Home Eat Home – the start up offers customers with recipes for meals and all the ingredients necessary to make each meal from scratch. Its model of delivering the products – through vending machines with coolers placed all over Berlin.
And that’s where Coca-Cola comes in. The company has decades’ worth of experience in dealing with coolers and everything related to them. It has the reach, the resources and the relationships to support Home Eat Home’s operations.
A new, mutually-beneficial, Business Model?
The entrepreneurs bring agility and start-up experience, and Coca-Cola brings the reach, resources and relationships. As the start up industry gets more crowded, and as big corporations find that their size is slowing them down, could this approach become a new model for businesses to transform themselves?
This post is a part of our monthly People’s Insights brief for March – Part 1: The Mobile & Wearable Web