Chobani LLC has selected six food start-ups that will make up the inaugural class of the Chobani Food Incubator. For this first class, the company received more than 400 applications.
Hamdi Ulukaya, Chobani’s founder and CEO, launched the program to mentor and support food entrepreneurs who will challenge the food industry – "and to build a community of people who want to improve broken systems and make a difference," the company said.
“We’ve learned a lot in the past nine years about what it takes to shake things up and give people better options,” said Ulukaya. “Our incubator is all about sharing what we've learned. The first six start-ups are very passionate, innovative and really want to help fuel the food revolution. I don't think there's ever been a better time for food start-ups to make a difference in this country, and I can’t wait to start our new journey together."
The six winners:
- Banza – makes nutritious pasta and foods that are affordable, convenient and easy to prepare. The business started in 2013, in a home kitchen in downtown Detroit, where then-23-year-old Brian Rudolph perfected his recipe for better pasta and set out to prove that eating right doesn’t require a lot of time, money, or culinary expertise.
- Chops Snacks – produces a range of jerky snacks, using all-natural premium beef brisket and natural spices. Dusty Jaquins was inspired to venture into the world of jerky while on a family farm in the Pacific Northwest during the summer of 2013 after he was thoroughly disappointed from a jerky he purchased.
- Cissé Cocoa Co. – is a USDA approved and Fair Trade organic chocolate company. Founder Diana Lovett wanted to create a company that would use only ethically responsible cocoa while supporting small-scale farmers in the Dominican Republic.
- Jar Goods – creates and offers delicious, simple specialty foods in jars. Sisters-in-law Melissa and Laura Vitelli started their business with the vision of offering foods that help busy people put delicious, nutritious meals on their tables for their families in less time.
- Kettle & Fire – claims to be America’s first and only USDA grass-fed bone broth made with fresh, organic ingredients. The company was founded by Justin and Nick Mares who wanted to help people improve their health.
- Misfit Juicery – makes cold-pressed juices with 70-80% recovered fruits and veggies that would otherwise go into the thousands of pounds of trimming and scrap waste when companies make fresh cut products like carrot sticks and watermelon cubes.
Each of the participants was chosen based on his business ideas, shared values and commitment to provide better food for more people – all parts of Chobani's mission.
The inaugural class of the Chobani Food Incubator will run from October 2016 to March 2017, based out of a dedicated space at the Chobani SoHo office in New York City. They’ll also have access to Chobani plants, R&D and sales offices throughout the country.
The winners can send two or three team members on-site to work with key Chobani employees; may attend monthly programs at Chobani locations across the U.S., including manufacturing facilities; and will be featured in a showcase at Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, Calif.
They'll also get a $25,000 grant to help grow their business, equity-free capital and travel.
The incubator program will teach:
- Building a sustainable business
- Team building and scaling
- Brand and marketing
- Packaging and pricing
- Sales and retail strategy
- Innovation and manufacturing
- Food quality and safety
- Nutrition and food labeling
For more information and updates, see chobanifoodincubator.com.