Dallas-Fort Worth hosts a variety of accelerators for its evergrowing community of entrepreneurs. Coming this fall is a niche program tailored to later-stage startups specifically focused on consumer packaged goods (CPG).
Dubbed the “nation’s first consumer products accelerator,” SKU is an eight-week program that combines in-person and virtual programming to give founders access to industry experts, investors, and serial entrepreneurs. The expansion into the Dallas-Fort Worth market will be supported by DFW CPG, an organization founded last year by Polsinelli’s Rick Jordan and food veteran Richard Riccardi.
The collaboration makes sense—SKU and DFW CPG have similar missions. Jordan and Riccardi created their community to provide education, networking, and connection within the region’s expanding food and beverage industry. Austin-based SKU was founded in 2011 by lawyer Shari Wynne Ressler and serial entrepreneur Clayton Christopher with the aim of accelerating CPGs.
Since founding, more than 50 companies have completed SKU, and in the past year, the accelerator has been in a major expansion mode. Alumni include Siete Foods, EPIC Provisions, and Austin Eastciders.
And, Riccardi himself has been a longtime mentor for the Austin program.
“One of the common themes that has come up from entrepreneurs is the need for guidance weathering these uncertain conditions,” SKU Executive Director Kirstin Ross said in a statement. “SKU’s program provides emerging brands the mentorship, network and support they need to grow and thrive.”
So SKU DFW was a natural fit.
Kicking off the program on Sept. 10 is natural foods icon Walter Robb, the former co-CEO of Whole Foods. Throughout the course of SKU DFW, five companies will receive best-in-class curriculum taught by top CPG leaders. Founders will be guided by a team of mentors, who are all “laser-focused on helping them grow their businesses.”
SKU refers to the team as a “who’s who” in the CPG industry—some of the most successful consumer product companies in the state (and beyond) are involved.
The program concludes with a showcase pitch event on Nov. 11.
“We are thrilled to support SKU’s entry into the DFW market, the addition of a nationally recognized CPG accelerator to the DFW CPG community and the utilization of the region’s strength to help build great companies,” Riccardi said in a statement.
SKU DFW noted that the announcement comes at a time when the CPG industry is facing extraordinary challenges in the wake of COVID-19. That also makes it even more valuable.
Interested companies and mentors can apply for SKU DFW now online. The curriculum is intended to meet the needs of CPGs with more than $500,000 in annual revenue.
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