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DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Mondelez International Inc. announced today the nine selected start-ups that will participate in the candy and snack company's new Mobile Futures Network, a first-of-its-kind effort to shape the future of mobile by teaming power brands with some of the brightest entrepreneurial minds in the mobile marketing field.
In an exclusive conference call with CSNews Online, Edward Kaczmarek, director of Innovation and Emerging Technology at Mondelez International, said the company is "trying to go after innovation that is redefining consumer engagement and [the] path to purchase."
Mondelez International comprises the global snacking and food brands of the former Kraft Foods Inc., following the spinoff of its North American grocery operations in October.
Kaczmarek introduced convenience store retailers Quick Chek Corp. and Kum & Go LC as the latest members to join the Mobile Futures Network, demonstrating the importance of mobile marketing and the impact on the consumer path to purchase. John Schaninger, vice president of sales and marketing for Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based Quick Chek, and Mike Templeton, digital marketing manager at West Des Moines, Iowa-based Kum & Go, participated in the selection of the nine start-up companies chosen from among hundreds of applications based on a two-day presentation event with the top applicants.
"As an organization, we are increasingly focused on connecting with our customers closer to the point of purchase," said Kaczmarek. "By partnering with Quick Chek and Kum & Go, we have an even larger opportunity to drive relevant engagement and impulse purchases, and we believe that this will ultimately change the marketplace."
Quick Chek's Schaninger, who was also on the exclusive conference call with CSNews Online, noted that it was a huge honor to be asked to participate in this program. "It's such a learning experience," he said. "As c-stores, we feed people on the go. So, if we can take some of this digital innovation and see where the ROI [return on investment] is, then it's very exciting."
The selected start-ups will partner with Mondelez International's brand teams to create and launch new mobile pilots in just 90 days. These pilots will focus on driving impulse purchases and mobile-at-retail consumer experiences, with additional pilots in the important areas of social TV and location.
The eight brands and nine start-ups (the Trident brand team wanted to work with two start-ups) will work together as follows:
- Trident with LINSR of Cincinnati, and ROXIMITY of Denver.
- Stride with Waze of Ra'anana, Israel.
- Chips Ahoy! with Shelby.tv of New York.
- Halls with Dailybreak of Boston.
- belVita with inMarket of Venice, Calif.
- MDLZ Scale with Endorse of San Mateo, Calif.
- Sour Patch Kids with Kiip of San Francisco.
- Oreo with banjo of Redwood City, Calif.
"We are excited to have these brilliant mobile innovators on board and look forward to working together over the next 90 days to bring new technologies to market," Bonin Bough, vice president of Global Media and Consumer Engagement at Mondelez International, stated in a news release. "Our marketers were truly impressed by the caliber of innovation they saw at our pitch event, and are eager to continue to work with start-ups to drive high-impact experiences beyond Mobile Futures as we continue to march toward a mobile-first strategy."
Working Together to Drive Cultural Change
Multi-day cultural immersion sessions will kick-start the process of the brands and start-ups working together. Brand teams will spend time at the start-up's location and see firsthand how the start-up operates, thereby creating strong relationships and fostering an understanding of how each other thinks.
"We want to immerse our brand marketers in the entrepreneurial spirit that drives these start-ups," said Kaczmarek. Through the Mobile Futures Network program, Mondelez International hopes to ultimately spark "intrapreneurship" within the organization.
"We see the Mobile Futures program as a wonderful opportunity to infuse a bit of the start-up entrepreneurial spirit into our organization," added Steve Doan, senior associate brand manager for OREO at Mondelez International.
Ninety Days to Incubate
Late in the first quarter of this year, the brand marketers and their start-up partners will work together to create and incubate entirely new mobile ventures that address broader business challenges. At the end of 90 days, Mondelez International's brand teams will pitch those new venture concepts to angel investors and venture capitalists in mid-2013 with the hopes of securing seed funding.
Kaczmarek pointed out that the Mobile Futures effort doesn't detract from the company's current mobile marketing programs with established digital leaders such as Facebook and Twitter. In fact, the Mobile Futures Network is an addition to Mondelez' already stated commitment to spend 10 percent of its total media budget on mobile.
In addition to Quick Chek and Kum & Go, the Mobile Futures Network comprises other organizations that will play a key role in various stages of the program by bringing their unique expertise, perspective and scale. This includes Viacom; AT&T AdWorks; incubator partners Prehype, Kicklabs, Sandbox Industries and Excelerate Labs; angel and venture capital investors First Round Capital, New World Ventures, Commerce Ventures, OCA Ventures, Intel Capital, BlueRun Ventures and Transmedia Capital; the Mobile Marketing Association; the Location-Based Marketing Association; the Boston Consulting Group; and agency partners Ruder Finn, Horizon Media and MediaVest.