ForceBrands hosted a mentor mixer in partnership with Chobani on Tuesday evening in New York City to celebrate the announcement of the second class of the Chobani Food Incubator program.
America’s top Greek yogurt brand selected seven startups out of more than 550 applicants for its second annual Food Incubator program, which brings companies together for one week each month over the course of four months. The teams participate in workshops and mentoring events with Chobani employees and receive $25,000 in funding.
“We tasted hundreds of products and met with entrepreneurs across the country and the world,” said Hamdi Ulukaya, CEO of Chobani, in a statement. “These seven companies each have something special and unique. In selecting this class, we looked at what categories — and what teams of people — have the ability to make big changes in American supermarkets and give more people better options. I can’t wait to have these companies at Chobani to see how we can help them on their journey and welcome them to our family.”
The event took place on a rooftop in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood, where there were about 70 external mentors in attendance, including founders, speakers, investors, and more.
“Chobani was thrilled to partner with ForceBrands on our mentor mixer for the incoming class of the Chobani Food Incubator,” Chobani Incubator Director Jackie Miller said. “We have some great early stage companies in our new class and in our wider network, and we knew that collaborating with ForceBrands would be the perfect way to foster some impactful mentorship and ideation among food innovators. We can’t wait to continue the conversation and grow the community!”
This year’s participants included Chloe’s Fruit, which produces soft serve and 60-calorie ice pops using only three ingredients; Farmer Willie’s Craft Ginger Beer, which makes dry, gluten-free, craft ginger beer; Grainful, which produces frozen entrees and meal kits featuring steel-cut oats; LoveTheWild, which produces frozen fish meals; Pique Tea Crystals, which uses super plants to make tea; Rumi Spice, which creates saffron products; and Snow Monkey, which makes vegan and paleo plant-based ice cream that’s free from the eight major allergens.
“Being part of the Chobani Incubator is absolutely amazing,” Nico Enriquez, Co-Founder of Farmer Willie’s Craft Ginger Beer, said. “There is so much to learn from how Chobani has managed to grow a truly impactful business that still has maintained such fun and soul. We definitely dream of one day doing the same and paying it forward in a similar manner.”
Chloe Epstein, President and Co-Founder of Chloe’s Fruit, also expressed enthusiasm for joining the second class of the Chobani Incubator Program.
“We are thrilled to be recognized by Chobani, one of the top CPG companies in the world,” Epstein said. “Chobani is best in class and touted for disrupting a big industry. We aim to do the same. We anticipate months of intense learning from the experts of a truly innovative brand. One week in and they have already made us feel like family. It is a unique experience that will be sure to benefit us as individuals, as a team, and as a business.”
The Chobani Food Incubator program has helped several small entrepreneurs and brands break into the food industry.