Whenever we talk to entrepreneurs or investors about the Coca-Cola Founders model, one of the first questions we get asked is about our focus and thesis. They want to know what the goal of the platform is. Simply put, we focus on solving some of Coke’s biggest growth challenges today. Not five years or 10 years from now: what’s facing us today. Our goal is to find ways to tap emerging business models and breakthrough new technologies to help generate growth and productivity inside our company.
The goal of our platform is to find a sweet spot where entrepreneurs can build a business around solving a big challenge for Coca-Cola, but also for them to scale beyond Coke.
It’s worth noting that Coca-Cola operates at a massive scale – in more than 200 countries. That means that when a startup can provide a solution that solves one of our growth challenges, it can deliver huge value to our business. But, just as importantly, it also provides tremendous opportunities for startups to grow beyond their home country.
For example, we were recently working with one of our business units to identify the growth challenges relevant to their business. Two of the challenges identified were:
1. How they could rethink their route to market, or RTM, to get better coverage and access to wider and more agile distribution. One of the questions we asked the business was what could happen if they had a solution that could deploy our fleet or merchandisers on-demand? If they could deliver this capability, they could bring a new dimension to solving key logistical problems at Coke and beyond.
2. We also identified how they could take advantage of the massive amount of data they have captured. Through our trucks, coolers, vending machines, and physical operations, we track a tremendous amount of data every day. Entrepreneurs, especially those in big data or predictive analytics spaces, could help us think differently about solving these challenges.
Once we work with a Coca-Cola business unit by asking them questions like these, we can then introduce them into the local startup ecosystem to find a team that has experience building businesses in these spaces. We then take these entrepreneurs through a deep “immersion” in Coca-Cola’s assets, knowledge and insights, as well as the key growth challenges their solution might help overcome.
When we can find that sweet spot that matches a founder’s passion and capabilities with a big growth challenge that needs to be solved, we uncover incredible opportunities to build scalable businesses that might just have the capability of changing the world.