Coca-Cola Amatil is partnering with BlueChilli to invest thousands into new Aussie startups


The BlueChilli team. Source: Supplied

Coca-Cola Amatil, the Australian arm of the world’s largest beverage company, has announced it plans to invest in up to 15 Australian and New Zealand startups through a partnership with prominent local accelerator BlueChilli.

The program is called Xcelerate, and will see BlueChilli providing $38,000 in funding to up to 15 totally new ventures out of a total of 30 applicants. The successful applicants will then receive mentoring, training, technical support and assistance from developers, and potentially further capital over a nine-month bootcamp and development program.

Throughout this time, startups picked for the accelerator will be given access to resources and support from Coca-Cola Amatil, with the eventual goal for the startups to embark on pilot programs with the beverage multinational. Additionally, the corporate will invest up to $200,000 in some of the startups at the end of the Xcelerate program.

“Every company receives $38,000 on completion of the bootcamp part of the program, and there’s up to half a million available for companies who successfully graduate from the accelerator and then raise capital from independent angel investors,” BlueChilli founder and chief executive Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin tells StartupSmart.

To receive this funding, startups cough up 5% equity to the accelerator’s venture partners, and a further 10% ‘sweat equity’ to BlueChilli in return for the technical team and support given by the accelerator to help founders build their minimum viable products.

The Coca-Cola partnership began after the company reached out to BlueChilli, says Eckersley-Maslin, who claims it assessed all the accelerators in the land and “picked the best one”. After that, he says Coca-Cola put BlueChilli through its paces, and the whole deal was completed and signed-off on in under two months.

“The key thing for BlueChilli is that we only partner with companies who are aligned with our mission. Coca-Cola Amatil impressed me as they genuinely want to invest and support the startup ecosystem,” he says.

“They’ve set aside $10 million to invest in startups and they’re hungry for opportunities to. They want to work with startups that will help solve Coca-Cola Amatil’s problems and challenges.”

While the first stage of the accelerator is only open to founder swith totally new ideas, come August existing startups and scale-ups will be allowed to apply to also participate in potential pilot programs with Coca-Cola Amatil.

Coke on the search for our “best and brightest”

Forget the Eighties’ ‘New Coke’; the new Coke of 2018 involves investing in new ventures that are focused on waste reduction, sustainable futures, improving customer experiences though things like predictive data and neuroscience, and logistics optimisation via new tech like blockchain and artificial intelligence.

“We are looking for the best and the brightest business ideas that would benefit from the combination of our global success and BlueChilli’s startup accelerator program, to turn their napkin-stage ideas into successful, scalable businesses,” Alison Watkins, group managing director of Coca-Cola Amatil, said in a statement.

“Coca-Cola Amatil chose BlueChilli to be its accelerator partner for its proven track record of success for its founder-first approach to building investible, scalable businesses – including working with non-tech founders. BlueChilli displays the capabilities we are looking for from startups, and together we will make a positive contribution to the global startup ecosystem.”

The Xcelerate program launch also marks BlueChilli’s first foray into the New Zealand startup ecosystem, with the prominent accelerator program extending its operations across the ditch to “further support the fact that Coca-Cola Amatil is a global company”, says Eckersley Maslin.

“I think it’s a fantastic country with lots of entrepreneurial spirit and a very strong ecosystem,” he says.

But does the strong ecosystem pose a risk of drowning out BlueChilli’s presence? New Zealand has a number of strong incubators and accelerators already, such as Flux, Lightning Lab, and Astrolab.

Eckersley-Maslin isn’t fazed in the slightest, believing BlueChilli’s unique offering of empowering non-technical founders will set it apart in New Zealand’s ecosystem.

“There could be 100 accelerators there and it still wouldn’t concern me,” he says.

NOW READ: Why BlueChilli’s Alan Jones says Aussie startups need to ‘get real’ about corporate partnerships


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