When a large, established corporation like Coca-Cola announced that they are going to be helping startups around the world succeed, the news caused a fuss, as might be expected. In 2013 Coca-Cola launched a new model for creating seed-stage startups that will be called Coca-Cola Founders. This is an intriguing model that will be based on the Coca-Cola Company partnering with a global network of experienced entrepreneurs and small startups. With access to resources like Coca-Cola’s, it would seem any startup that takes advantage of what they are giving away is sure to succeed. Coca-Cola’s plan for helping out startups is three pronged. Would Coca-Cola do any anything that isn’t thorough, classy, and first rate? Nope. In addition to just providing resources for startups to get off the ground, Coke is interested in fostering a holistic sense of success out of these startups and they are committed to the cause. Through Coca-Cola’s program, which was spoken about in great detail at the Dublin Web Summit, (fast becoming one of the world’s most influential tech events), in 2013, it has also been discussed in great detail in the Dublin Web Summit this year. These startups can easily get off the ground and into a place of sustainability with the help of the Coca-Cola program.
The first way that Coca-Cola plans to help startups is with something called the “Co-Founder Network.” This Network provides not only seed funding for startups, but also a network of other professionals and businesses whose relationships will be beneficial in the long run to the success of the small business. The Coca-Cola Corporation takes no intellectual property from the startups that they help with this process, which is a vast change from most incubators, accelerators, or other guaranteed help service companies, who only perform for ownership and remuneration. They are working on making these services as accessible as possible, and have ten incubators set up around the world; there is an incubator in the flourishing San Francisco area, one in Rio de Janeiro, one in Berlin, one in Buenos Aires, two in Bangalore, four in Sydney, one in Singapore, and one in Mexico City. This international and holistic approach to small business incubation is sure to change the way that incubators operate in the long run and has already had some effect on the market since the Co-Founder Network’s launch in October of last year.
The second way that Coca-Cola is helping startups around the world is through “The Bridge,” a commercialization program for startups that is meant to bridge the gap between the huge market for startup businesses in Tel Aviv and the global market. Tel Aviv now has one startup small business for every 1,900 people. Tel Aviv is working to become a world leader in capital investment. Currently, Tel Aviv attracts per capita about $170 per person, compared to about $75 per capita in the United States. The Bridge is a six month program that provides software technology solutions for businesses that are in the consumer engagement, wellness, consumer retail, marketing innovation, or supply chain industries. The commercial guidance given to businesses through this program is absolutely indispensable to all countries, but especially in Tel Aviv.
The last way that Coca-Cola has committed itself to helping startup businesses is through marketing ventures that bring consumer awareness, not just to the small business that they are championing, but brings some attention back to Coca-Cola as well. Coca-Cola provides the reach and scale that small businesses really need for their marketing to be successful. Coca-Cola has launched a partnerships with Spotify, and have launch a groundbreaking social music app. Coca-Cola Placelists is hosted on Spotify’s free streaming music platform. There is seemingly no stopping a small business when it suddenly has access to all of the tools of a large corporation like Coke.
While positions in all of Coca-Cola’s programs for small businesses domestic and abroad are highly competitive, they are worth trying to get a place in. The reach or pure resources that Coca-Cola’s programs are providing will help launch many companies, that left to try with their own devises and resources, would not have a chance to excel on that level. The edge against competitors is enough to entice any small business owner to apply for Coca-Cola’s incubation programs or marketing ventures. The reputation boost and experience that these startups are going to get by being associated with a brand that is so longstanding and trusted, seems unequaled. Coca-Cola is big on any map, but putting a small business on that map with them is a surprising business move and an idea I wish more businesses would adopt.