About the Program
What is the Chobani Incubator?
The Chobani Incubator is designed to help nurture, support, and celebrate like-minded food startups that can positively impact our world. Our vision is to help positively shape the food industry of tomorrow. As a part of this unique program, food entrepreneurs who share our vision for Delicious, Nutritious, Natural, and Accessible (DNNA) food will receive support, guidance, and resources needed to provide better food to all.
Why is the company doing this?
Our company’s mission is to provide better food for more people. We want to extend our mission beyond our own products and into the communities we live in by helping socially responsible food entrepreneurs make their products available to all. We believe that together, we can challenge the food industry, improve broken systems, and make a difference.
Is Chobani’s founder, Hamdi Ulukaya, involved in the Chobani Incubator?
Hamdi dreamed up this program. He selects all the final participants and spends time getting to know and mentoring each company during the program.
What are the criteria for consideration in the program?
Since our Incubator is really about fulfilling our company’s mission to provide better food for more people, we’re looking for early stage purpose-driven food and beverage product companies—those who have a vision that’s much like our own food philosophy.
We are looking for food makers who are:
Doing the right thing: Companies creating delicious, nutritious, natural, and accessible food
Inclusive: Products that are accessible and affordable to all
Like-minded: Companies with heart and passion that want to deliver good food to more people in a sustainable way with positive social impact
Ready to go and grow: Company leadership and key people are able to participate in the U.S.-based 4-month Incubator Program consisting of on-site programming in New York, and visits to Chobani facilities, retailers, and trade shows
How early is “too early” for my company? I’m still in ideation stage.
We’re excited to build a community of passionate food startups to support entrepreneurs at various stages. The program we’ve designed is intended for those who are already producing and selling their products with some early traction. We encourage you to subscribe to our newsletter for updates on the program and events so you can keep us up to date on your progress.
Is my company too far along to be considered “early stage”?
We see the value in peer mentorship so we look for an Incubator class with a variety of stages of companies in order to support and help each other. Even if you already have a large number of team members and are selling in thousands of doors, our program can add value and help your company to continue to grow. That being said, if you are doing more than $5MM in annual revenue, your company may be too far along. We would encourage you to subscribe to our newsletter to get involved in other programming and events, or even as a mentor to our founders.
What if my company does not make a packaged food or beverage product? What if my company is providing a solution to Food/Ag Tech or another aspect of the food industry?
We designed the program to focus on food and beverage product companies, which is required to be eligible for the program. However, we are very excited about innovations in Food Tech, Ag Tech and beyond, so if you’re solving an interesting problem in that space, we would encourage you to apply to our Food Tech Residency program.
How will you select the participants?
We are looking for food manufacturing companies that are making delicious, nutritious, natural, and accessible food—companies who manufacture amazing food products and are ready to participate and grow. 6-7 companies will be selected to join the Chobani Incubator program.
Where will the Incubator be located?
The Chobani Incubator calls our SoHo office in New York City home—members of the program will spend approximately one week per month on-site at our Incubator space, visiting our manufacturing facilities in either Twin Falls, ID, or New Berlin, NY, and taking trips to retailers, and tradeshows throughout the country.
What are the program dates?
The Spring 2019 program will run for four months, meeting one week per month, from April to July 2019.
Are only applicants within the NYC area being considered?
Absolutely not! We welcome any U.S.-based company with participants able to travel throughout the United States, and actively encourage companies from across the country to apply.
Do I have to relocate for the program?
Not at all! Our Incubator experience is designed to help small companies with big hearts and ideas, regardless of their location. Our programs consist of monthly meetings at Chobani offices and manufacturing facilities. We do expect you to travel and participate in these programs and will help cover the costs associated with you being there—please see "financial assistance" in the FAQ below. You do not need to live near or relocate to any of these locations. Of course, we hope that you will take what you have learned with you, and like us, build your company into one that not only affects your hometown, but the world beyond.
Will any financial assistance be offered to Participating Companies such as airfare, hotels, and other travel costs?
We offer growth capital in the form of a $25,000 equity-free grant. We also include a travel stipend to cover airfare, hotels, and other expenses for on-site Chobani Incubator programs for one founder and up to two team members from each Participating Company.
What kind of non-financial support are you going to give these businesses?
Our Incubator companies will have access to Chobani teams, executives, and experts. Participants will also take part in valuable classes and workshops in manufacturing, production, finance, fundraising, branding, marketing, and sales.
How long is this program?
The program includes a 4-month Incubator program for one founder and up to two team members. The Incubator includes monthly meetings at select Chobani destinations across the U.S. over a 4-month period. In between these programs, which do require participants to be present on location, we will have various off-site visits, events, and regular remote program check-ins along with digital support and community engagement.
How do you help the companies that weren't selected for the program?
We've created the Chobani Incubator Resource Hub to provide startups with a list of resources and services to help grow their businesses. Additionally, we host events across the country to engage with startup founders and connect them to partners in our network.
When and how can I apply?
Applications for the Chobani Incubator are currently closed. Please subscribe for updates on when applications for our next class begin.
So I’m applying to the Chobani Incubator and got to the part about uploading a video—how do I do that?
Record a video that’s no more than 90 seconds long and contains your answer to the questions provided within the application website.
Providing a link to the video, hosted on YouTube or Vimeo, works great. You should upload this video as “unlisted” or “not private” to ensure we have access. If you don’t want other people to find it, mark it as “unlisted.”
We care about the quality of your answers, not the production value of your video. The video should simply be the founders talking. No screenshots or postproduction please. We want to get to know you… not your video-making skills.
Before submitting the link, we recommend playing it back to yourself from the hosted provider (YouTube of Vimeo)—that’s the way we’ll view it, so this is your shot to make sure we can hear what you’re saying.
I’ve got this existing video that I want you to see. Can I submit that?
Please use an original video for the application, rather than a video that was recorded for other uses. If you applied to the Chobani Incubator previously, you are welcome to submit a video link from your prior application instead of recording a new video.
We can’t talk with all the companies that submit, so this is the best way to accomplish that. We’re asking that you and your team look into the camera and speak right to us, rather than submitting something that already exists.
Can I speak to someone directly about the program and/or application process?
If you have additional questions or are having technical difficulties submitting your application, please send an email to email@example.com.
Will all companies be notified if they are selected to participate?
Yes! We will notify all applicants on or before March 5th, 2019.
When will Program Applicants be contacted?
After you apply, you will receive a confirmation message acknowledging the receipt of your application. All applicants will be notified of their application status by March 5th, 2019. We may be in touch prior to that date to request additional information. Eligibility of applicants will be considered only upon the application and any materials specifically requested by Chobani. Please do not send unsolicited materials.
Is there any advantage to applying earlier rather than waiting until the deadline? Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis, so we encourage you to apply sooner rather than later.
I’ve read all of the above but still have a question—what do I do?
If you have a question about your application, that’s not covered here, you can write us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will do our best to respond as soon as possible.
Food Tech Residency
What is the Chobani Food Tech Residency?
Chobani launched a residency for food tech startups in our ongoing mission to bring better food to more people. We bring tech entrepreneurs to the front lines of food manufacturing to enable them to tap into our operations, supply chain, logistics and quality assurance expertise to build solutions to the industry’s biggest challenges. Our inaugural class was completed last fall and you can watch a video recap of the experience here.
Why is Chobani doing this?
It’s important for us to expand the scope of how we provide better food to more people. As a food maker, Chobani is familiar with the sustainability and efficiency challenges at the front lines of the supply chain. In addition to helping emerging natural food and beverage product companies grow through our Incubator program, we want to solve challenges all along the food and agriculture value chain: from waste reduction to food safety to supply chain traceability and more.
What is the difference between the Food Tech Residency and the Chobani Incubator program?
The Chobani Incubator program is focused exclusively on helping packaged food and beverage brands scale their businesses. We started the program in fall 2016 and have 36 different food and beverage brands in our portfolio (you can view the companies in the Chobani Incubator program here).
The Food Tech Residency is a separate initiative for food and ag tech – we are looking for companies with technological solutions to challenges throughout the food supply chain. We focus more on bringing the tech startups to our facilities to work side-by-side with our operations teams, compared to more of the workshop curriculum associated the Incubator program.
What is the criteria for consideration in the program?
We’re looking for companies with big ideas and technical skills sets to bring their ideas to life. The general criteria to be accepted into the Residency are:
Product/service: A software and/or hardware tech solution to a food and/or agriculture industry challenge.
Company stage: We’re open to a range of companies, from concept-phase to being in-market with paying customers. Companies aren’t required to have a product/service in market and producing revenue yet, but they should have a website and team in place to build the business.
People: We bring the supply chain and food expertise; the ideal startup team must bring the technical expertise and skills set (ideally the founder or co-founder).
Participation: Ability to travel and participate in the program in fall 2019.
How far along does my company or idea need to be to be eligible?
Companies that have an alpha, beta, or finished product/service in market are encouraged to apply.
However, it’s not required to have a product/service in market with revenue yet – we’re excited to get innovators in front of some of food’s unique challenges so they can iterate and improve their solutions accordingly. Ideally, companies have at least a website and team in place.
What does the programming include?
The Residency will consist of tailored programming based on the specific needs of the tech startups and various opportunities to work with the Chobani team to grow your business, including the following:
Visit Chobani manufacturing facilities and Chobani offices (we pay for travel & accommodation)
Workshops and 1:1 meetings with Chobani leaders in supply chain, logistics, manufacturing, and quality
Connections to retailers
Connections to farmers
Network with early-stage food and beverage startups that have participated in our Incubator program
How will you select the participants?
Applications will be reviewed by a committee of Chobani leadership. We will be reviewing a) which challenges the companies are solving, b) how they plan to solve the challenge, c) how their team is structured for success and d) how much value Chobani can add. The application review process may also include phone interviews and product demos.
Where will the program take place?
Programming will be held at our factories in Central New York and Twin Falls, Idaho, and our offices in Manhattan. There may also be visits to Chobani’s retail customers and/or vendors and other office locations throughout the country.
Are only applicants within the United States being considered?
Yes, at this time we are only accepting applicants based in the United States.
Do I have to relocate for the program?
No, companies don’t need to relocate for the program. However, founders will be required to travel for programming to Chobani’s various locations.
Will any financial assistance be offered?
We will help pay for travel and lodging throughout the program as companies visit our various facilities. All companies will have the opportunity to pitch for additional capital at the end of the program.
What kind of non-financial support will the participants receive?
Participants will receive opportunities to learn from and network with Chobani leadership, Chobani’s manufacturing/supply chain team, retailers, farmers, and startups in the Chobani Incubator program. There may also be an opportunity to pilot ideas with Chobani’s team both during and after the program.
When and how long is the program?
The program will include monthly in-person sessions over three months, starting in September 2019 and running through November 2019. The sessions will be 3-4 days for each monthly visit.
When and how can I apply?
Applications are currently open for our program and you can apply online here. Applications are due Sunday, 7/14, at 11:59 PM PDT.
Can I apply to both the Chobani Incubator and the Food Tech Residency?
No, you cannot apply to both programs with the same company. If your business is eligible for one of the programs, then it’s automatically ineligible for the other program (see the FAQ above). If you have two businesses, one of which is eligible for the Incubator and one for the Food Tech Residency, you can apply each business to its respective program.
Can I speak to someone directly about the application?
If you have further questions upon reading through the website and FAQ, please reach out to email@example.com, and someone will get back to you.
When will applicants be contacted?
All applicants will be contacted with an update of their application by end of August 2019.