Mondelēz International’s global startup accelerator programme CoLab has launched in India, in collaboration with Huddle, to grow innovative early stage snacking brands. This also marks the 75th year of Mondelez’s presence in India
CoLab will bring in Mondelēz’s global, Indian leaders and industry experts to mentor upto seven selected early stage startups, across a 12-week curriculum, consisting of virtual sessions and personalised interactions
The selected startups will also receive a $20,000 grant, along with the opportunity to raise funding from Huddle and other prominent VCs in India
According to Deloitte’s 2022 survey on Indian consumer habits, consumer spending has slowed down by 18%, due to stubbornly high inflation and a sluggish economy. But snacking has risen steadily since the Covid days. People staying at home and working remotely have increasingly binged on comfort foods and even replaced large meals with functional snacks, delicious but full of added nutrients. In brief, the snacking trend has evolved.
The narrative is no longer built around bland health foods with fewer carbs but tasty specialty items filled with natural goodness and all sorts of plant-forward experimental foods. The traditional cookies, crackers and ice creams, wraps, pasta and noodles are now blended with fruits and veggies, while natural flavours (derived from botanicals) lower the usage of salt and sugar.
Think of wheat crackers, chocolate bars with healthy nuts and dried fruits, chewing gums that promote dental health and nutrition bars that are made using whole grains and natural sweeteners.
According to the ‘State of Snacking Report 2022’ by Mondelēz International, 55% of global consumers made a meal out of snacks and 71% snacked at least twice a day. In simple terms, more people are snacking and doing it more frequently, creating a huge demand in this FMCG segment.
The snacking market is uniquely positioned as snacking is more than just catering to hunger pangs that rise between meals, it’s become an essential part of every culture. People snack on every occasion – for comfort, convenience or bonding with families and friends.
For instance, around 75% of Indians snack due to boredom or to release stress, says a Mintel report. Again, 88% believe in socialising over snacking sessions, and 87% mix and match packaged items to make personalised gift hampers, the Mondelēz International’s report states.
The market is expected to grow further due to India’s youthful population, as millennials and Gen Z are inclined to snack more frequently than other age groups and continue to discover new snacks through social media.
How Mondelez India Accelerator & Huddle Plan To Create A Winning Recipe
Initially, snacking in India might have been influenced by the West. But the growing focus on nourishing ingredients and the rising demand for local tastes and flavours have thrown open plenty of opportunities for early stage startups. Apparently, it is a sun-filled space and young businesses can evolve and grow in sync with changing lifestyles. But food entrepreneurship is anything but a cakewalk.
On the food product side, it is all about production, packing, branding and supply chain, and businesses in this space require specific support not always offered by sector-agnostic accelerators. Moreover, these startups need to stay at the top of the game with market-disrupting business models as they compete against trusted legacy players who have been around for decades.
To drive innovation in a fast-growing Indian market, Mondelēz International is launching its startup accelerator programme in India this year. The CoLab startup engagement programme will collaborate with Huddle, an Indian startup accelerator and VC fund, to dive deep into the segment and work with early stage snack brands.
The initiative also marks the 75th year of the company’s presence in India.
The 12-week CoLab programme, to commence in June this year, will host Mondelēz International’s global and Indian leaders as well as founders, CEOs, FMCG experts, mentors and other stakeholders from the startup ecosystem. The programme will also feature entrepreneurs and founders from some of Huddle’s consumer portfolio companies such as Blue Tokai, Bold Care, Perfora, Wellversed and Gladful who will share their valuable insights and support the selected startups in their pursuit to disrupt India’s snacks industry.
For context, CoLab was first launched in the US in 2021 and targeted snack brands in the wellness space.
“As the company marks 75 years in India, the launch of CoLab reinforces our commitment to being a consumer-centric brand in India. This gives us the opportunity to nurture the growing entrepreneurial talent in the country while unlocking new ideas that drive innovation and scalability in the snacking space”, said the president of Mondelez India, Deepak Iyer about the initiative.
He further added that Mondelez India can provide its expertise and experience to startups, help them capitalise on new trends, mobilise talent and technologies to build emerging and resurgent snacks and expand the snacking industry in India.
“Enabling early stage startups continues to be our focus, interest and expertise,” said Huddle’s founding partner, Sanil Sachar. “Being in partnership with Mondelez India for CoLab is a key initiative for us to build the future of food together,” he added.
Building a successful consumer brand requires the need for multiple expertise to come together, almost like a playbook that Huddle has been able to develop by backing early-stage brands. With this and Mondelēz’s legacy of building a loved and trusted company globally, Huddle is excited to see how CoLab can propel the ecosystem, said Sachar.Apply To CoLab India 2023 Programme
What The Mondelez India Accelerator CoLab Offers
At the end of the programme, startups will pitch their businesses through a Demo Day event to raise between $500K and $1.5 Mn for Seed to Series A funding by Huddle and other potential investors
A Statista report says the Indian snacks market revenue is estimated to reach $66.92 Bn in 2023, growing at a CAGR of 7.52% (2023-2025) and by 2025, it will account for approximately 17% of the $470 Bn Indian FMCG sector, as per Inc42 estimates.
Given this scenario, Mondelēz International, the global snacking giant with seven decades of operations in India, has tied up with Huddle as the local collaborator as it resonates with its need for speed in innovation and the drive for mutual growth.
The nascent-stage snacking brands facing too many teething problems can leverage the CoLab initiative and accelerate their journey through industry expertise, financial funding support and effective networking.
On the other hand, the house of brands will be able to uncover snacking trends, gain insights and understand the real challenges young companies face within the startup ecosystem.
Tailored to ensure a smooth takeoff by D2C brands, the accelerator programme will offer extensive coaching, mentoring and high-impact workshops by Mondelēz leaders and others across the industry. The curriculum comes with a hybrid format, a combination of virtual live sessions and 1:1 in-person interactions.
The early stage businesses selected for the CoLab India 2023 programme will receive a grant of $20K each.
At the end of the programme, startups will pitch their businesses through a Demo Day event to raise between $500K and $1.5 Mn for Seed to Series A funding by Huddle and other potential investors.
At its core, CoLab is as much about the investment in human capital as it is financial capital, said Iyer.
Apply To CoLab India 2023 Programme
Who Can Join The CoLab Cohort 2023
Talking about CoLab’s mission, Sonali Mitra, director strategy of Mondelez India said that CoLab aims to identify and collaborate with emerging snacking brands that are innovatively making snacking products by exploring flavours, using creative environment-friendly packaging and operating on a sustainable business model.
“We are looking for brands that are unlocking new snacking trends and are unconventionally delicious. Brands that are pushing the boundaries with respect to flavours, experience, sustainable packaging, strategies to gain retailers’ attention and creatively retaining customers”, said Mitra.
Selection Criteria For Mondelez India Accelerator CoLab Cohort 2023
The Mondelez India Accelerator CoLab programme begins in June 2023. To apply for the programme, startups must be based in India, have high growth potential and be aligned with Mondelez India’s innovation priorities
The programme is seeking seven startups that are disrupting cookies, crackers, chocolate, in-store bakery, bars and other adjacent snacking categories. The potential startups must be:
- Purposefully innovative in food production and packaging
- Challenging marketing and branding norms
- Operating a differentiated business
- Finding creative ways to get discovered across an omnichannel ecosystem
- Driving growth through new consumer experiences
Applications for the Mondelez India Accelerator CoLab 2023 programme are now open and will be available through April 2023. The announcement of the selected startups will be made in May 2023.
The 12-week programme begins in June 2023. To apply for the programme, startups must be based in India, have high growth potential and be aligned with Mondelez India’s innovation priorities.Apply To CoLab India 2023 Programme
Startups Must Observe Consumer Pattern To Innovate
Sachar and Mitra both believe that modern day consumers have become increasingly aware of diverse flavour profiles, thus leading them to experiment with indigenous flavours, while demanding the right balance of nutrition and taste.
They added that emerging brands must focus on creating impactful brand recall, as opposed to brand awareness. For this, these startups need to strengthen their omnichannel presence.