SKU, a successful Austin-based CPG accelerator dedicated to natural brands, is taking its show on the road with BeyondSKU. Launched in 2011 with the help of two CPG veterans, Scott Jensen (of Rhythm Superfoods and Stubb’s BBQ) and Clayton Christopher (of Deep Eddy Vodka and Sweet Leaf Tea), SKU is now partnering with consulting agency BeyondBrands to bring its curriculum to the New York metro area.
The accelerator—working in "tracks"—matches industry experts with companies that are ready to take their idea to the next level. Because it’s an intense program consisting of 14 weeks of meeting with a group of mentors on a weekly basis, it has been difficult for brands to temporarily relocate to Austin. SKU's board members wanted to spread out further and it was a natural extension for BeyondBrands, based in New York, to get involved.
“What we're so excited about at BeyondBrands is that we're partnering with the No. 1 accelerator group in America right now dedicated to natural channel—not tech, not other things—natural channel brands,” said BeyondSKU executive director and BeyondBrands co-founder Eric Schnell.
Up to seven companies will be selected for the first New York track, which will include seed cash up to $20,000, mentorship and education, direct networking, connections to professional services and access to investors. Typical of accelerator programs, in exchange for these resources BeyondSKU will receive an equity stake in each participating company.
“The variety of what I call ‘disciplinary experts’ that we draw into the mentor pool makes it highly effective,” said Christopher, Chairman at SKU. “I wish I had this when I was a young entrepreneur. I would have owned a lot more of my company and the money would have gone a lot further.”
Companies with revenue up to $3 million are encouraged to apply. Accepted brands must be in the New York City area or willing to relocate for the duration of the program, which starts in September and runs for 12 weeks. The deadline to apply is Aug. 10, 2019, and applications can be submitted at www.beyondsku.org.
Selection factors include a fully developed product and plan, a well-rounded founding team, innovative market entry points, large revenue potential, an ability to scale quickly and a great pitch.
SKU Austin’s roster includes Epic Provisions, sold to General Mills in 2016, and Siete Family Foods, which recently raised $90 million in funding. To date, the accelerator has run seven tracks, and graduated 37 companies, 94% of which are still in business today.
BeyondSKU inaugural class will be announced mid-August.