You say Coca-Cola, I say… startups?

Coca-Cola to open startup accelerators in nine cities including Berlin and Istanbul
Coca-Cola to open startup accelerators in nine cities including Berlin and Istanbul


You say Coca-Cola, I say… startups? The beverage giant appears to hope so, with plans for accelerator programmes in nine cities including Berlin and Istanbul by the end of the year.

The accelerators in Sydney and San Francisco have already launched. According to a presentation given by Coca-Cola VP of Innovation David Butler in Sydney in early August, the Mexico City programme should also already be active. The next cities lined up are Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Bangalore, Berlin, Singapore and Istanbul.

“About a year and a half ago, the company stepped back and said – what are we not doing in terms of innovation?” Butler explained. “You can get lost in that word but essentially what we came down to is that there was a lot going on in this ecosystem, this community, that we weren’t part of…”

The details so far are pretty vague – deliberately so, as it’s still an experiment for the company. Coca-Cola will make two initial hires for each accelerator. Unlike most accelerators, the focus will not be on investing or advising but on “co-designing, collaborating and building with startups, and bringing our ability to scale and our amazing assets together to unlock new ways to create value on a global basis”.

A Coke-branded device to make you healthy?

Butler told the crowd in Sydney that two broad areas of interest will be wellbeing and distribution but the specifics will depend on each city and country. “So it could be as broad as a Coke-branded wearable device that helps you be healthy or it could be, actually Coke will do your deliveries for you?” one audience member asked. Exactly, Butler said. “Those are two ideas we’re working on right now.”

It’s not the first foray for Coca-Cola into the world of startups. In 2001, the company formed a startup incubator in its home town Atlanta, Georgia, in partnership with Georgia Tech University. The project, Fizzion, offered support and up to $250,000 seed capital in exchange for a 12 per cent equity stake but – according toBloomberg Businessweek – eventually closed, for reasons unknown.

More recently, Coca-Cola became the first non-tech sponsor of Startup Weekend, which recently merged with Startup America Partner to form global startup network UP Global.

The reception in Sydney seemed reasonably positive though with mention of the traditional distrust between corporates and startups. In Berlin, some in the startup community are already suffering from “accelerator fatigue” with MicrosoftDeutsche TelekomAxel Springerpharmaceutical giant Bayer and supermarket chain Rewe among those to announce or already offer some kind of startup programme.

Coca-Cola will need to work harder than some of the above names to gain trust for this new venture and much will depend on those first two hires. The company could not be reached for comment on when the programme in Berlin is likely to open.

Image credit: Flickr user Moyan Brenn



About Alexander Gordin
An international merchant banking professional with over twenty years of business operating and advisory experience in the areas of export finance, international project finance, risk mitigation and cross-border business development. Clients include foreign governments, municipalities and state enterprises as well as Fortune 500 and small/medium enterprises. Strong entrepreneurial instincts, combined with leadership and strategic skills. Transactional and negotiations experience in over thirty five countries. Author of the highly acclaimed "Fluent in Foreign Business" book and creator of the "Fluent in OPIC", "Fluent in EXIM","Fluent In Foreign Franchising", "Fluent in FCPA",and "Fluent in USTDA" seminar/webinar series. Currently developing "Fluent In ......" seminars and publications. Co-author of the Fi3 Country Business Appeal Indices. Extensive international business development and project finance transaction experience in healthcare, aerospace, ICT, conventional and alternative energy infrastructure, distribution and hospitality industries. Experience managing international public and private corporations. Co-Founded three companies abroad. Strong Emerging and Frontier Market expertise. Published and featured in numerous publications including: The Wall Street Journal, Knowledge@Wharton,, The Chicago Tribune, Industry Week, Industry Today, Business Finance, Wharton Magazine Blog, NY Enterprise Report, Success magazine, Kyiv Post and on a number of radio and television programs including: Voice of America, CNBC, CNNfn, and Bloomberg. Frequent speaker on strategy, cross-border finance and international business development. Executive MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. B.S. in Management of Information Systems from the Polytechnic Institute of NYU. Specialties Strategic Management Advisory, Export Finance, International Project Finance & Risk Management, Cross-border Negotiations, Structured Finance transactions, Senior Government and Corporate officials liason

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

The Ship Modeler

Ship Modeling News from Clare Hess

Site Title

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” — Maya Angelou

Museum of International Trade & Merchant Banking (MoMBIT)

chronicling the importance of international trade and merchant banking in the global development

Fluent In Foreign Business

Helping To Grow and Protect Your Business Abroad

Emerging Market Insights

How to make a killing in Emerging Markets without losing your shirt?

Ideas That Work @ GIDASPOV.COM

Strategy | Creativity | Innovation | Fundraising | Marketing

Nu Leadership Revolution Blog

“Helping Emerging Leaders Gain the Competitive Advantage in the Future"

Mike Z's Blog

Exploring the causes of cancer throughout the world

Bucket List Publications

Indulge- Travel, Adventure, & New Experiences

FranchisEssentials by Franchise Foundry

Sharing Information, Insight and Perspective about Franchising, Small Business and Entrepreneurship

We Help Insurance Agencies Stand Out

The Blog

The latest news on and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: