- Coca-Cola has shut down its startup accelerator program called the Founders platform, according to the Monterey Herald.
- The Founders platform was launched three years as a way for Coke to get early access to emerging technologies and markets.
- The company decided to focus its marketing innovation resources around projects within the beverage portfolio instead of through startups, Coke spokesperson Petro Kacur told the Monterey Herald. The beverage company will continue relationships with Founders platform companies via its corporate mergers and acquisitions team.
Coke is in the process of becoming a more digitally focused company, and the Founders platform was one element in that transformation. But shutting down the accelerator is an illustration of Coke’s challenge with digital. Last month Coca-Cola CMO Marcos de Quinto said TV advertising is better than digital in terms of ROI across media channels. Big brands have struggled with digital marketing alongside major ad agencies which are finding smaller boutique agencies more adept at adjusting to the digital and mobile-centric marketing world.
Monterey Herald reporting pointed out that a number of non-tech companies have been getting into the startup space through investment including 7-Eleven, Campbell Soup Co. and JetBlue, and that Disney, Sprint and Google all have accelerator programs. Accelerator and incubator programs involve a much more high-touch element with startups than just providing venture capital or seed investment, but as more programs launch the competition for startup talent grows. Currently there are 187 accelerator programs globally.