Why is Mars Food running the Seeds of Change Accelerator?
As a seed-to-plate brand within the family-owned Mars, Incorporated, we understand the power of starting small and growing strong – and we are committed to nurturing fresh ideas that will shape and enhance the meals of tomorrow.
We hope to help companies that are most likely to contribute to this mission by working with our experts, sharing the knowledge we’ve gathered since we started as a seed company in 1989, and provide access to advisors and service providers in our network. We’re pretty confident that some of the entrepreneurial magic will inspire our team as well.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
When will Program Applicants be contacted?
After you apply, you will receive a confirmation message acknowledging the receipt of your application. Finalists will be notified of their application status by July 2nd, 2019. We may be in touch prior to that date to request additional information. Final selection will take place in Chicago on July 19th. Eligibility of applicants will be considered only upon the application and any materials specifically requested by Seeds Of Change® Accelerator. Please do not send unsolicited materials.
Will all companies be notified over their application status?
Yes! We will notify all applicants on or before July 2nd, 2019, with final selection to happen in Chicago on July 19th.
What criteria are under consideration for selection to the Accelerator?
The main criteria can be found here: http://www.socaccelerator.com/#what-we-are-looking-for.
What “stage” of company is a good fit for this program? Am I too early? Am I too late?
To maximize the benefit of the program, we are looking for companies that are:
Do we need to have a product that fits an existing Mars format (stand-up shelf-stable pouches, etc)?
No! We are looking for food entrepreneurs that are shaping the food of tomorrow.
Can we still be accepted to the Accelerator if we have received some funding?
Absolutely! We do ask that you disclose amounts, but typically seed-funding is just fine.
What does “bespoke” programming mean?
We are crafting a unique program that combines a shared curriculum with multiple hands on mentoring touchpoints to guide companies through their deepest challenges.
What are the program dates?
The 2019 program will run for four months, from August to December 2019.
Where is the Seeds of Change Accelerator located?
There are two concurrent programs. Our main program is located in Chicago, Illinois. We are also running a program in Australia – for more information about that program click this link.
Do companies have to relocate to Chicago for the Accelerator?
The short answer: No. Relocation on a fulltime basis is not required but attendance in program sessions is and may require participants to travel (a travel stipend is provided). We created dedicated work space for accepted companies right at the heart of Mars Food headquarter in downtown Chicago. We believe relocation to Chicago for the term of the Accelerator is highly beneficial, however, we know it is not always possible. While some companies may need to stay close to ongoing operations in other locations, we do require teams to be on site for the training and mentorship sessions, mid-point check-in and final presentations.
Can companies outside of Chicago apply? What about outside the United States?
At this time, for the Chicago-based program, we are only accepting applications from U.S.-based companies with participants that are not restricted to travel in any of the United States. We want to see the most interesting food companies from across the country – so please apply if you fit (we see you Wales, Alaska).
What is the program structure? How often will I be in Accelerator sessions?
During the program dates, the Accelerator will meet for two or three sessions, generally limited to Monday through Thursday though days may change based on programming. The culmination will be “graduation” in early December..
Who attends the Accelerator sessions?
At least one founder must be available for each session and up to two may attend. Our preference is that at least one founder is dedicated to attend all sessions.
What financial assistance, if any, is offered to participating companies
Up to $50,000 USD will be provided to each participating company in the form of equity-free grants (please see Terms and Conditions for details). Additionally, we will include a travel stipend to cover related costs, such as airfare, hotels, and taxis, as related to participation in on-site Accelerator programs. This travel stipend will cover up to two team members from the Participating Company including at least one founder.
I’m an experienced food operator – how else can I get involved?
Great to see your passion for helping food entrepreneurs. Please subscribe to our newsletter via the box in the footer and follow us on twitter (@SeedsOfChange) to stay up to date on events and opportunities. If you are a seasoned food operator or food company service provider and are open to helping Accelerator companies, please reach out to us here: email@example.com.
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 to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will do our best to respond as soon as possible.