AUSTIN, TEXAS — SKU, the Austin-based consumer packaged goods accelerator, is seeking startups to participate in the second cohort of SKU Elevate, formerly SKU M/O, beginning in June. The program was developed to build a more inclusive industry and provide opportunities for entrepreneurs of color.
Participants will receive education, mentorship and networking during the eight-week virtual program. Brands are selected based on market traction, innovation and founder story and must have revenues of between $5,000 and $100,000.
The track will be led by Kathy Guzmán Galloway, curriculum director and master teacher, with topics covering branding, channel strategy, product innovation and operations. The program will conclude with a pitch event. Each participant will receive equity-free capital to support growth.
“Because of last year’s overwhelming success, we have a ton of momentum moving into 2022 with this mission-critical program to support diverse CPG founders,” said Emily Kealey, managing director of SKU. “We’re seeking diverse founders who want to be on this exciting second track and mentors, sponsors and partners who want to be a part of this program that is now nationwide.”
Food and beverage startups completing the program last year include Algo Dulce, Funky Mello, Babka ATX, Jeany’s Ginger Elixirs, Luv Fats Ice Cream, Naturally Noah’s and WAJU.
“For years I’ve admired SKU’s world-class accelerator, yet I was still blown away by the unparalleled level of support and guidance throughout the process,” said Chris Oates, founder of WAJU, a beverage made from upcycled fruit. “From accomplished speakers to a highly focused learning curriculum, it has been a great privilege to grow WAJU during the track alongside a diverse group of visionary founders.”
Each brand in the cohort will be matched with a curated team of mentors that include industry leaders, successful founders and subject matter experts dedicated to empowering diverse founders.
“The future is diverse, and SKU Elevate is contributing to this future by connecting accomplished mentors with the founders of tomorrow’s great brands,” said Ethan Monreal-Jackson, a mentor for SKU Elevate and founder and general partner of Newtype Ventures, a venture capital firm that invests in underrepresented founders.
Sponsors of SKU Elevate include General Mills, PepsiCo and Tito’s Vodka.
Epic Provisions and Siete Foods are among the more than 90 companies that have participated in SKU since it was established in 2011. Over the past three years, SKU has developed programs in additional cities, including Dallas, Minneapolis, New York and Atlanta.
Founders may apply at sku.is/elevate through April 15. Industry professionals who are interested in becoming mentors may send an email to email@example.com.