Chobani, LLC, a natural food company, announced the six food start-ups for the inaugural class of the Chobani Food Incubator. Chobani’s founder and CEO, Hamdi Ulukaya, launched the program to mentor and support food entrepreneurs to challenge the food industry—and to build a community of people who want to improve broken systems and make a difference. For its first class, the company received more than 400 applications for six spots.
“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 and 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."
Each of the participants were chosen based on their business ideas, shared values and commitment to provide better food for more people, a founding mission that led Chobani to become the #1 Greek Yogurt brand in America and transform an entire food category. When Chobani first began selling its cups in 2007, Greek Yogurt sales amounted to 0.8% of the total spoonable yogurt category. Today, it represents more than 50%.
The inaugural class of the Chobani Food Incubator will run from October 2016 to March 2017, based out of a dedicated space designed for the Incubator at the Chobani SoHo office in New York City. They’ll also have access to our plants, R&D and sales offices throughout the country.
A closer look at the food start-ups selected for the Chobani Food Incubator Class of 2017:
- Banza makes nutritious pasta and foods that are affordable, convenient, and easy to prepare. The Banza journey started in 2013, in a home kitchen in downtown Detroit. A then-23-year-old Brian Rudolph spent late nights, and even earlier mornings, perfecting 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 make a range of jerky snacks, using all-natural premium beef brisket and 100% 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 that was so tough and flavorless, he decided to take matters into his own hands.
Cissé Cocoa Co.
- Cissé Cocoa Co. is a USDA approved and Fair Trade organic chocolate company. With a lifelong love affair of chocolate and a wish for a world in which delicious treats could be enjoyed with peace of mind, founder Diana Lovett wanted to create a company that would utilize 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
- Kettle & Fire is 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 hold one mission: to help people improve their health and their lives.
- Misfit Juicery makes delicious, nutritious 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.
Participants of the first-ever Chobani Food Incubator will experience:
The Chobani home as an office and mentorship pad
- 6-month incubator space from October 2016 to March 2017, online and on-site
- 2-3 team members participating on-site with key Chobani team members
- Monthly programs at Chobani locations across the U.S., including manufacturing facilities and a dedicated space in Chobani’s New York offices
- Program culminating at EXPO West Natural Food Conference in Anaheim, CA, where Incubator participants may showcase products to broad members of the natural food community
Resources with no-strings-attached
- $25,000 grant to help grow their business. Equity free capital.Travel, hotel and other expenses covered
Access & advice
The Chobani Food Incubator programming will cover areas of interest and hot topics for the food industry, including:
- 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
Broader Community & Mentorship
- Access to Chobani teams, top executives, and experts
- Exposure to food industry thought leaders and top retail partners
- Networking with Chobani Food Incubator peers
- Digital support and community engagement between on-site programs
- Regular remote program check-ins