Mondelez India’s 12-Week Accelerator Programme CoLab Aims To Shape Indian D2C Snacking Brands In A $23.7 Bn Market By 2028


The startup engagement programme, run by Mondelez India and Huddle, will select early stage snacking food startups to provide mentoring and an equity-free grant of $20K

Starting in August 2023, its curriculum will cover critical business themes such as product manufacturing, packaging, designing and logistics and other business themes relevant for startups to scale

The mentors will include 35+ senior leaders from the industry and from Mondelez, including Vishesh Khurana (Shiprocket), OmPrakash Muppirala (Fountain India), Anand Shankar (Sharrp Ventures), Ashwin Bhadri (Equinox), among others

The way the world snacks has been changing in post-Covid times. Of course, people will continue to purchase snacks in 2023 and the markets will be booming. But snacking for instant gratification, for comfort, or out of boredom is no longer the trigger as it was in the Covid days. Coming to India, the country’s snack market is expected to reach $23.7 Bn by 2028 at a CAGR of 12%.  As a country which has a vast domestic market and a consumer base that is always eager to try new flavours and ingredients, snacking brands thinking out of the box can easily tap into new opportunities.

To drive innovation and growth across snacking startups in India, US-based multinational Mondelēz International, announced the launch of its startup accelerator programme CoLab in India earlier this year. The 12-week virtual programme will kick off in August this year in collaboration with startup accelerator and VC fund Huddle. 

With the aim to provide the necessary skills and to accelerate these businesses to their next phase of growth and impact, CoLab India will soon announce the selected startups that will receive an equity-free grant of $20K and will also get an opportunity to raise between $500K and $1.5 Mn in seed to Series A funding from Huddle and other potential investors by the end of the programme.

 “CoLab is a very strong reiteration of Mondelez International’s commitment to consumer-centric innovation in shaping the future of snacking in the country,” said Sonali Mitra, director strategy, Mondelez India.

Regarding the applications, Mitra said that the programme received a fantastic response from India’s early stage snacking startups. Overall, Mitra claimed that CoLab received 250+ applications in two months. She added that the interest spanned start-ups from the snacking spectrum, including baked snacks, chocolates, confectionary and savoury snacks. A significant number of applications came from female-led startups and from cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Lucknow, Hyderabad and more.

In addition to capital, the shortlisted startups will receive one-on-one mentorship, access to virtual and in-person workshops and extensive guidance from a network of Mondelēz leaders and industry experts. 

“We are thrilled to witness the impact of CoLab India 2023. Collaborations like these enable new age brands to emerge through tailor-made support. Additionally, we have been tracking fundamental trends in the consumer ecosystem which these brands are aiming to target,” said Sanil Sachar, Huddle’s founding partner.

It is also worth noting that the accelerator is set to bring more than 35 industry leaders from India and abroad as mentors for the shortlisted startups. The list of mentors includes, from Huddle and Mondelez, Vishesh Khurana (Shiprocket), OmPrakash Muppirala (Fountain India), Anand Shankar (Sharrp Ventures), Ashwin Bhadri (Equinox), Ankita Balotia (Fireside Ventures), Mohit Satyanand (Teamwork Arts), Amit Dutta (LeMarche), Anurakt Jain (Klub), Arjun Vaidya (Verlinvest) and Roma Priya (Burgeon Law). 

Mentors from Mondelez India include Varinder Jaswal, sr director R&D (chocolate); Sonali Mitra, director strategy; Tejas Mehta, VP, finance; Sree Patel, executive director, Mondelēz International & chief counsel and Punit Modi, commercialisation & supply planning lead.


What The Cohort Can Expect From The Curriculum

Building a thriving FMCG D2C brand in the snacking space is not easy. It requires a perfect mix of many ingredients, from insights into consumer mindset to creating a unique playbook in sync with the fast-evolving trends. 

To help the cohort seamlessly navigate the challenges of operating and scaling a D2C brand, CoLab mentors will delve deep into themes like product manufacturing, packaging, designing and logistics. 

The speakers will also conduct virtual and in-person one-on-one sessions as well as workshops, aimed at providing the cohort with guidance on how to fuel their journey from an early-stage startup to a high-growth snacking brand. 

During the sessions, the mentors will offer their insights into how startups can build sustainable and successful businesses. This will include topics like team building, finance management, corporate governance, cap table management and much more. 

Through a structured curriculum spanning 12 weeks, shortlisted startups can expect to gain a comprehensive learning experience and embark on their next phase of growth. 

Mondelez India’s 12-Week Accelerator Programme CoLab Aims To Shape Indian D2C Snacking Brands In A $23.7 Bn Market By 2028

From Demo Day To Raise Funding

And finally, the stage will be set for the early stage D2C snacking brands to pitch their business ideas to investors for funding. 

Now that the storied MNC Mondelēz International, with 75 years of experience behind it, has joined hands with Huddle, to usher in the third iteration of CoLab in India, all the right boxes have been ticked. And the accelerator programme may soon pave the path for indigenous brands looking to whip up taste and nutrition to reimagine snacks, the ultimate comfort food.


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