Mondelez Looks to Pair Mobile Startups With Its Brands and Investors


Collaborating with startups is becoming popular these days. GE funds a startup incubator program; PepsiCo is expanding its PepsiCo10 initiative, which pairs startups with brands such as Quaker; BMW’s iVentures arm is a $100 million venture capital fund that’s investing in mobile innovation; and Lexus is getting into the startup funding business.  Now you can add Mondelēz International to that list.

With a tagline of “The Future in 90 Days,” the two-day old company’s new Mobile Futures program was announced at the Mobile Marketing Association’s Advertising Week conference in New York. The program is structured in two phases: scaling startup innovation, and creating entirely new mobile ventures by partnering entrepreneurs in the mobile space with “up to 10” Mondelez brands, as Mondelēz VP of Global Media and Consumer Engagement Bonin Bough told Ad Age.

Bough is bringing a solid track record to the task. He oversaw digital and consumer engagement at PepsiCo, including the now wrapped Pepsi Refresh Project crowdsourced community project-funding platform, before joining Kraft Foods in February. He’s tapping that experience to spur mobile innovation at Mondelēz, the just-launched global corporate identity for Kraft Foods following Monday’s spin-off of Kraft’s North American consumer packaged brands.[more]

It’s a bold initiative to kick-start Mondelēz, one designed to make the newly focused company more agile and entrepreneurial — or “intrapreneurial,” as a blog post titled “The future of mobile begins and ends with start-ups” states:

“our goal is to become one of the top mobile marketers in the world. We will accomplish that goal not just by embracing mobile, but also by creating and driving an internal culture with innovation and entrepreneurship at its core. And most importantly, we’ll put our money where our mouth is. We are planning to invest 10 percent of our global marketing budget in mobile, and are investing in a new program called Mobile Futures. To be successful in embracing mobile and creating innovation from within, we have to think and act like a start-up. In order to do so, we’ll continue to partner with start-ups to push the envelope of innovative consumer engagement. And, we’ll embrace the start-up spirit internally to create new mobile ventures born out our intrapreneurial organization. Together with our start-up partners, we’ll create the future of mobile.”

It’s also speedy, pairing Mondelēz brand teams with the winning startups to create new mobile ventures “from scratch” within 90 days, and then pitch the concepts to angel investors and venture capitalists with the goal of securing seed funding. “This is about challenging our people in that second phase to think like a startup,” Bough told Ad Age. “What we are trying to do is build the muscle memory so they are familiar and used to what it’s going to take to win in that mobile space.”

Mondelēz CEO Irene Rosenfeld this week described the mobile consumer the company must address if it is to succeed: “More and more women are working, consumers are on the go in virtually every market around the world. The growth in nontraditional food consumption is a growing trend and we believe we’re well-positioned in terms of the brands we’ve got and the categories we compete in.”

Mondelez isn’t doing it alone — its partners in the Mobile Futures network including Viacom, AT&T, VCs and incubators. The application process opens on Oct. 10; how it works, according to the Mobile Futures website:

We want young, ambitious mobile start-ups eager to collaborate with us to transform consumer engagement and path-to-purchase. Apply today if your company is: less than 4 years old has working technology; has received $1MM+ in funding and/or been accepted by or graduated from an incubator program; and, you operate in one of the 3 categories below:

  • Mobile at Retail – Reaching consumers in-store and on-the-go to add value, make life easier and drive purchases/loyalty
  • Social TV – Driving social engagement and connected experiences across multiple screens to drive awareness and consideration
  • SoLoMo – Intersection of social, location-aware tech and mobile to connect brands with consumers and drive impulse purchases

Why work with us?

  • We’ll team you with one of the world’s most beloved brands – You’ll also receive: A Mondelēz International -funded brand pilot that will scale your existing business; Direct access to our brands and our in-depth consumer insights; Introductions to our vast network of partners, including members of the Mobile Futures Network
  • 90 Days to Activation – We’ll team with you to quickly scale and launch new brand pilots into market
  • Selection Process – Start-ups will be selected via an open call for applications beginning on October 10, 2012, followed by a pitch day for finalists in late November. Brands and start-ups will go through a speed dating-style selection process. Start-ups will be chosen based on a set of core criteria, such as originality, proven technology, ability to solve an immediate brand marketing challenge and experience in their respective market areas.
  • Pilot Activation – Selected start-ups and their brand teams immediately begin work on a new brand pilot to be launched into market within just 90 days. 
  • Cultural Immersion – At the same time, participating brands will spend one week working side-by-side with their start-ups at the start-ups’ headquarters. Start-ups are welcome to also visit the brand’s location in those first 90 days.
  • 90 Days to Incubation – We will tap your expertise to help us ideate new mobile ventures.
  • New Venture Workshop – In early 2013, we’ll ask you to join us for a one week workshop in the US to help us ideate entirely new mobile ventures. Your expertise will be invaluable as we work towards solutions to broader business challenges in the areas of consumer engagement and path-to-purchase that have not yet been solved. 
  • Idea Incubation – At the end of the week, the best ideas will be green lighted into development with an incubator, and our brands will take those ideas to the next phase of development. At the end of the 90 days, the new ventures will be presented to select VCs and angel investors in hopes of receiving seed funding.

What do we need from you? Just your time, passion and creativity

  • How much time? 1 day “pitch” to brands as part of final round of selection process (Late November)
  • 1 week of hosting your brand team at your offices (December 2012)
  • As much time as needed to develop your brand activation pilot and launch it into market within 90 days (Late 2012 – Early 2013)
  • 1 week workshop with your brand to ideate around new ventures (Early 2013)