BeyondSKU is a partnership between SKU - the US’s first CPG accelerator - and BeyondBrands, a New York-based natural products consulting agency, launched in 2019.
SKU was founded in 2011 by lawyer Shari Wynne Ressler and serial entrepreneur Clayton Christopher, founder of Sweet Leaf Tea and Deep Eddy Vodka. With its mission of accelerating CPGs, the programme has successfully mentored over 90 brands, including Epic Provisions, the humane-focused meat snacks business set up by hippie endurance athletes that was sold to General Mills in 2016 for a reported $100m. Base in Austin, Texas, the accelerator has subsequently developed programmes in additional cities, including Dallas, Minneapolis, Atlanta and New York.
Participating brands are selected based on innovation and founder story. However, while there is a low barrier to entry, simply having a great product and funding is not all that it takes to grow a successful brand.
SKU surrounds its participants with a wraparound infrastructure of seasoned mentors, a customised programme, advanced operations support, access to industry expertise and connections to capital.
Growing the entrepreneurial community
“Building on the continued success of Austin’s 18 tracks, we are excited to kick off BeyondSKU Track 4 this September,” said Eric Schnell, founder and CEO of BeyondBrands.
“I am proud our New York-focused accelerator plays a key role in growing our local entrepreneurial community of small brands to become household names, while leveraging the collective wisdom of our diverse talented group of seasoned CPG veterans who lean in deep with mentorship and networking.”
The 12-week programme kicks off in Manhattan on 26 September and covers topics important to CPG startups, such as mission and vision, branding, investment, legal, channel strategy, supply chain and innovation. It culminates in a pitch event to an audience of investors on 19 January.
“BeyondSKU provided us with an incredible opportunity to refine our brand, perfect our pitch and build an incredible network of industry veterans,” said Paul Majcherczyk, cofounder of Fabalish, which produces plant-based, allergen-friendly and organic treats like dips, falafel and brownies.
“In addition to the excellent coursework, we were assigned a team of dedicated mentors that gave us hands-on support in building our business and strategy. It has enabled us to take a big step forward as a brand.”
Applications to be part of Beyond SKU’s next cohort are open until 15 June.
The accelerator is also looking for CPG leaders who are interested in mentoring. In addition to helping founders achieve their potential, mentors benefit from the experience of working side by side with their peers.