Coke Is Luring Experienced Entrepreneurs to Create New Startups

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Coke wants in on the entrepreneur scene. So, it's created a program designed to help founders build startups from the ground up.

Coca-Cola went public with a new entrepreneurship program on Wednesday, at Fast Company's Innovation By Design conference. Called Coca-Cola Founders, the program allows the company to partner with entrepreneurs and offer them expertise, resources and reach, before the entrepreneurs create a new startup. Coca-Cola is a launch partner from day one, and, once the business model is proven, becomes a minority shareholder in the company.

"Founders are given an unfair advantage through the power of Coca-Cola and the opportunity to do what most can only dream about," reads the program's website. "Coca-Cola gets early access to new, fast-growing markets and solutions to challenges impacting our business."

Related: With Soda Sales Down Anyway, Coke and Pepsi Vow to Promote Healthier Drinks

The global program, which was founded in 2013, already has a number of ideas in development around the world. The network currently includes a Rio de Janeiro-based video ranking website, a San Francisco-based temp job app and a Sydney-based hydration biosensor. Coke says all of the teams in its network first start with a problem in their own neighborhood, then their city, then their country, with the goal being to scale globally with Coke as a customer.

According to the program's website, Coca-Cola finds founders by searching for experienced entrepreneurs in startup communities, then inviting promising pairs to join what it call its Co-Founder Network. Coca-Cola Founders is not an accelerator, as founders don't need a company or even an idea to join, and Coke doesn't dictate a problem to solve or even a time period the program lasts.

Interested? Too bad: the program isn't taking applications. Coca-Cola is looking for experienced entrepreneurs, not first-time founders, with experience in running companies that emphasize low spend and high speed. Coke says many of its current founders entered the program "after a huge failure or significant exit." If you fit the bill, don't bother contacting Coca-Cola Founders – they'll find you. 

Related: This Clever Marketing Campaign Reversed Coke's 11-Year Decline in Soda Sales

Edition: June 2017

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