BY MEGAN KINDELIN
AWARDS MARKETING EXECUTIVE, FOODBEV MEDIA
Incubators and accelerator programmes are commonplace these days, though are just as exciting to get involved with on both sides. Here at FoodBev, our staff are constantly exposed to new ideas and category-creating innovations.
Industry giants such as PepsiCo and Land O’Lakes have launched their own in-house programmes to foster the next generation of talent. With so many options out there and fierce competition to gain a place, where do you even start?
Here is some advice for exploring an incubator/accelerator programme for your food or beverage start-up business.
Check the programme is suitable for you and your business
There are literally thousands of incubator programmes for startup companies these days and when you are forking out over 5-10% of your company equity in return for mentorship, support, seed funding, and advice, it is worth doing the research to make sure it is the right fit.
Incubators tend to be a business in themselves, so they have implemented a formula that works for the majority of companies they mentor. This does not mean the cookie-cutter approach is fool-proof and that it’s a one-way track to success.
Make sure the events in the incubator’s social calendar are relevant to your industry, the mentors have the experience you value, and their network is something you can utilise. The last thing you need is to waste your precious time when you might have been better off on your own.
Define your needs
Most programmes offer a range of services, such as mentorship, curriculum programmes and start-up capital. However, if capital is your main objective, it might be worth working with an angel investor or fund manager instead.
Be aware that for the right programme, you might need to relocate your business and team to the Incubator’s location. It is possible that after the programme finishes, as you have built up a local network you might choose to stay there. You should factor this into your plans and discuss it with your team.
Build and bring a strong team
The best incubator programmes will value a strong team over anything else (even your business idea) because they know that the beginning is where the most evolution takes place in business planning.
A strong team will be able to navigate murky waters, especially if you want to change course mid-way through.
Gain recognition for your hard work by entering an awards scheme
You’ve picked the right programme, your team is developing rapidly and you are ready to launch your product into the market.
What is going to set you apart from your competition so that your brand doesn’t get lost in the crowd? Consider participating in an award scheme, because as a startup, even being shortlisted is an instant validation of your brand and product.
The pioneers of the industry are the ones willing to shout about their success to a wider audience.
Awards will provide a platform you would not have had access to otherwise.
Potential clients could see your winning work and innovation and value it as much as you do. Additionally, when you bring attention to an area where you are truly outperforming your competitors, it’s a great way to entice new talent to your business, so you can continue building your strong team.
It’s always helpful when approaching buyers and retailers for getting your product on the shelf to have a “Winner” logo on your packaging, as they will want to stack their shelf with impressive products.
Being labelled an “award-winning brand” shows your product has merit, provides traction and is a fantastic marketing starting point for any-sized business.
FoodBev Media organise a range of industry-renowned award schemes in the food, dairy and beverage sectors that cater to businesses across the globe. You can learn more about our awards here.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2018