The Seeds of Change Accelerator is not only one of the newest incubator programs for natural foods. It’s the latest effort by Mars Inc., which already owns the Seeds of Change organic brand, to grow its presence in the natural foods space—and the newest addition of a CPG brand running an incubator program in recognition of, and to keep pace with, the rapidly-changing food industry. It was announced last month, and according to Clarence Mak, Global Mars’ Food’s chief of marketing, sales and innovation, will announce the startups selected to participate in July and kick the program off on August 1. The companies will graduate in December.
Six U.S. and four Australian participants will be selected in the areas of startup food brands, innovative experiential offerings, new business models and emerging technology. There’s also a focus on startups that align with Mars’ stated values of World Flavors, Plant-Based Eating, Easy-Meal Solutions, Responsible Food and Creating with Care.
“The startups, which can be product-based companies and also food-tech, should bring new ideas to the table aligned with our core pillars,” Mak said in an email. “We’d like to leave this open to various business models and product categories so we can get a variety of innovative applicants who are helping shape the future of the food industry.”
The four-month program “will be comprised of several in-person meetings with advisors, mentors and industry experts across the entire value chain,” added Mak. Among the advisors lined up for the program are: Stephen Badger, Chairman of the Board for Mars Inc.; Rohan Oza, iconic brand builder and venture capitalist who’s appeared on Shark Tank; and JKR Ventures, a creative company responsible for recent exits of Graze (Unilever) Bevel and Form (Proctor and Gamble) and the team behind Hippeas and Ugly Water.
As for how the funding will work, Mak had this to say:
“Mars will provide a need-based grant of up to $50,000. The selected startups will be provided with $25,000 to start and then up to an additional $25,000 depending on areas of their needs that will help fast-track growth. This will be across a spectrum of marketing and branding support, product development, access to test kitchens, operations etc.”
Startups should visit www.socaccelerator.com to apply; applications will be accepted until May 31.