Thinking Outside the Can: How PepsiCo is Helping Entrepreneurs While Spurring Innovation

From JetBlue’s “BlueBud” initiative to help small food companies to Patagonia’s funding of entrepreneurial ideas with its “$20 Million & Change” program, investing in small businesses and startups has been a trending initiative for many big businesses in recent years. Now one of the largest global brands is joining the fray, creating a win-win scenario for all parties involved.

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Last week PepsiCo announced it would be lending support to fledgling companies through a new accelerator program for food and beverage startups. The six-month program, Nutrition Greenhouse, will provide $20,000 grants to 10 startup organizations, plus each startup will be paired with a mentor from PepsiCo. The selected businesses will also have access to a full library and curriculum of business resources and training modules, and will also be able to collaborate with each other, according to the Nutrition Greenhouse website. The program will culminate with the selection of one company to receive $100,000 and an opportunity to partner with PepsiCo. Through the accelerator, PepsiCo is looking to find emerging food and beverage brands that are “great-tasting and nutrient rich,” “driving peak performance and productivity,” “adapting to evolving consumer lifestyles,” and “Purpose-driven.” But Nutrition Greenhouse does more than benefit the participating startups -- PepsiCo is planning to learn from these smaller organizations as well. Daniel Grubbs, managing director of the PepsiCo (PEP)Ventures Group, states the mutual benefit in a recent CNN Money article, "Through this process, we can give back but also... learn a little bit more about the consumer and the broader landscape. That's very beneficial for us." He goes on to say how these companies can unlock new insights for PepsiCo, "It gives us front-row seats to the most innovative startups seeking to address ever-changing consumer needs."

PepsiCo’s Nutrition Greenhouse program shows how outside-in intelligence can help spur new ideas and concepts as well as learn about new audiences and market – all while giving a boost to entrepreneurs. It’s the perfect example of how larger companies can benefit from partnerships of all shapes and sizes – and how investments in new ways of thinking can be a win-win for companies whether they are pre-revenue or a $63.53 billion organization.