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Coca-Cola meets with co-working spaces to suss out start-ups for accelerator program

Friday, 2 August 2013 | By Rose Powell

Coca-Cola’s vice president of innovation David Butler has told Australia’s start-up community the global company is exploring what it can learn from start-ups.


At an event at Sydney’s co-working space Fishburners and broadcast to other co-working spaces around Australia, Butler said Coke is also exploring a possible start-up partnership program.


Event coordinator Megan Donnelly told StartupSmart Coca-Cola had been exploring how to work with the Australian start-up community since the start of the year.


“The message that we got was Coke is trying to take a different approach to corporate innovation because for them and many other corporates it hasn’t worked,” Donnelly says.


“They admitted they weren’t very efficient or effective at new ideas and they’re keen to learn from start-ups. They’re also looking to support start-ups to scale up.”


Donnelly says Butler shared that Coke’s biggest pain point was becoming irrelevant, as a company over 100 years old. They were seeking to work with start-ups in nine countries to avoid this.


Butler compared business to surfing in his address, stressing the need to be in the right position.


“We at Coca-Cola see something coming: a new wave of innovation and we’re simply trying to get in the right position,” he said.


“Just over a year and half ago the company stepped back and asked what are we not doing. Innovation is a big word and you can get lost in that but we realised there was a lot going on in this community, this ecosystem that we were not part of.”


Butler said those in the start-up community could see that, but bigger companies couldn’t. He said that fortunately he was asked to sort that out.


Coca-Cola appointed Franki Chamaki, a former innovation manager at wealth management company AMP, as accelerator manager in February this year.


You can watch Butler’s speech here: