Coca-Cola Changing The World, Not Just Making Sugar Water, With 9 Accelerators

Coca Cola, Startup Accelerators, Accelerators, Coca Cola Innovation

I was one of the first people to see the Jobs movie at an early showing on Thursday evening. One of the big highlight scenes in the movie is when John Sculley recounted the conversation he and Steve Jobs had in New York when Jobs went to recruit the then President of Pepsico to become the CEO of Apple. Jobs once considered it to be the worst move of his career (or at least that’s what the movie and Walter Isaacson’s book suggest). In that conversation Jobs reportedly asked Sculley if he wanted to sell sugar water the rest of his life, or if he wanted to change the world.

Well it looks like Coca-Cola isn’t content on just selling sugar water either. Coke has made another global move towards innovatino by supporting startups with nine global accelerators. The company made a bold show of support for startups back in April when it was announced that they were a large corporate sponsor of Startup Weekend and now UpGlobal.

VentureVillage reported on Thursday that Coca-Cola has already started accelerator programs in San Fancisco and Sydney. They also just recently kicked off a program in Mexico City, with Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Bangalore, Berlin, Singapore, and Istanbul all on tap as well.

Coke isn’t looking for the next wild flavor or even a revamp of its bottles or cans. They are looking for innovation in distribution and well being. Coca Cola’s global Vice President of Innovation David Butler gave a presentation in early August in Sydney outlining the programs.

“About a year and a half ago, the company stepped back and said – what are we not doing in terms of innovation?” Butler explained. “You can get lost in that word but essentially what we came down to is that there was a lot going on in this ecosystem, this community, that we weren’t part of…”

As to what Coca-Cola is looking for, Butler said it was up to the individual programs across the globe. When asked by an audience member;  “So it could be as broad as a Coke-branded wearable device that helps you be healthy or it could be, actually Coke will do your deliveries for you?” one audience member asked.

Exactly, Butler replied. “Those are two ideas we’re working on right now.”

Venture Village also reports that this isn’t Coca-Cola’s first shot at startups and accelerators. In 2001 they formed a startup incubator in their hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, that offered $250,000 in seed capital for up to 12% equity. Bloomberg reports that the program eventually fizzed out for unknown reasons.

Check out Coca Cola’s “Innovation Stories” blog here.





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