Coca-Cola Amatil partners with BlueChilli to launch accelerator program Xcelerate

- April 12, 2018 3 MIN READ

Food and beverage company Coca-Cola Amatil, the bottler of Coca-Cola Company beverages in countries including Australia and New Zealand, has joined the throng of global companies looking to startups to identify opportunities for growth outside their core business, today announcing the launch of Amatil X, a “platform for emerging possibilities”.

According to Coca-Cola Amatil group managing director Alison Watkins, the platform will support the development of concepts, startups, and early-stage businesses that “anticipate and address customer needs”.

Investment will be made through AX Ventures, a multi-million dollar venture capital arm, which will identify opportunities through Xponential, an “employee venturing program”, and Xcelerate, a corporate accelerator program to be run in partnership with BlueChilli.

“Customers’ worlds are changing quickly, with increasing expectations driven by technology. At the same time, beverage trends and drinking occasions are evolving fast. While remaining focused on our core is critical, we need to find new avenues of growth. We want to continue to challenge ourselves to provide our customers with ‘Only at Amatil’ experiences,” Watkins said.

The six month accelerator program will see participants receive $38,000 in seed funding, as well as access to a tech team that will build their MVP and an assigned product manager. The program will take 15 percent in equity.

Up to 30 participants from across Australia and New Zealand will be chosen to take part in an initial bootcamp before the accelerator cohort is chosen. The program will also run a scaleup stream.

With the company keen to look at ideas and products it can test and validate, Watkins said the two organisations want to turn “napkin-stage ideas” into successful businesses that generate revenue streams for their founders.

“We picked BlueChilli because they demonstrate the same passion and drive as the startup community they work with, and we are aligned around our strategic goals. With BlueChilli, we’re confident we’ll be finding and bringing life to some world-class innovations and ideas,” she said.

The program, to be led by former ABC journalist and startup founder Megan Flamer, is focused on finding ideas around three key themes: creating a more sustainable future, for example getting value from waste or applying biometrics; reimagining the customer experience, such as using predictive data or applying psychometric testing and neuroscience to ecommerce; or getting people what they want when and where they want it, for example on-demand services, blockchain, AI, or instant delivery.

BlueChilli CEO Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin added, “We are really pleased to partner with Coca-Cola Amatil and were impressed by their team’s vision for how this program could drive innovation and new growth.

“It’s so encouraging to see large companies step into the arena to collaborate with startups – it’s a vital part of the innovation ecosystem that gives our region the fuel to stay competitive in the global arena.”

Startups that go on to raise funding at the conclusion of the program will be eligible for up to $500,000 in follow on funding from the BlueChilli Venture Fund and Hatcher+ Venture Capital. Amatil also “expects” to offer up to $200,000 each to up to three startups.

BlueChilli announced its partnership with the Singapore-founded Hatcher+ last month.

Billing itself as a data-driven VC firm, Hatcher+ cofounder and partner John Sharp explained the firm looks to invest in companies “as early as possible”, using machine learning-based technologies to identify opportunities in partnership with global accelerators, incubators, angel investment groups, and other industry experts.

The partnership with BlueChilli will see the organisations work together to identify up to 240 startups to receive funding over the next three years.

The partnership will see Hatcher+ invest seed funding in each startup taking part in a BlueChilli accelerator, and provide US$200,000 in follow-on funding to the startups as they graduate from the program and raise their first funding round. The funding will come from the firm’s US$125 million ($162 million) fund, its second, which will look to invest in up to 1,000 startups globally.

Meanwhile, the new program for Coca-Cola Amatil will not be the first time the company has looked to the Australian startup landscape for opportunities; the organisation previously worked with the likes of Pollenizer back in 2013 on a couple of initiatives.

Sydney had also played host to one of nine global accelerators run by The Coca-Cola Company.

Image: Megan Flamer and Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin. Source: Supplied.

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