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How do I find out more about the Unleashed Accelerator programme?

One of the best ways is to reach out to previous startups who have been accepted into the programme. You can watch their testimonials on our website (unleashedbypurina.com) or reach out to them directly if you are a member of our Unleashed Pet Tech Founders Community on Slack. For an invitation, please reach out to kim.bill@purina.nestle.com (Head of Purina’s Accelerator Lab, Nestlé Purina PetCare) or jeanne.chatelle@purina.nestle.com (Business Development Manager, Nestlé Purina PetCare Europe).

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What is Unleashed?

Unleashed was the first pet care specificaccelerator in Europe and is run by The Purina Accelerator Lab. This is the fifthyear of operations, after four highly successful cohorts, where a total of 25 pet care startups have been accelerated. 

The goal is to help pet care startupsgrow. Purina identifies disruptive pet care startups, to work on a valueexchange project together, with a team of Purina experts to ‘prove the concept’of the startup within 20 weeks. 

The programme in 2024 is committedto accelerating up to 10 startups using state-of-the-art and tested growthhacking and experiment techniques. Dedicated external coaches guide and mentorthe selected start-ups, providing invaluable expertise and support.

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What is the advantage for the startup to apply to Unleashed?

Purina is a leading global pet care company with a global footprint and has more than 100 years of history and powerful commercial and R&D expertise.

Startups will have access to the different competences at Purina, to their networks, training, learning and networking opportunities, including:

  1. High visibility for the startup company throughout the Purina organisation - even if they are not selected, the information about their technology and capabilities will be transmitted to the relevant functions for potential partnerships.
  2. If the startup is selected, they will benefit from a close working relationship with both specially selected Purina Unleashed experts and external coaches with the correct expertise and resources, to help them grow.
  3. The project that the startup works on will be funded for up to 50,000 CHF (52,000 euros) by Unleashed.
  4. The startup will have high visibility with Senior Management at Purina and Nestlé as well as investors interested in the pet sector.
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What is the process of selecting the start-ups?

Startups will be evaluated for the robustness of their product-market fit and meeting a true consumer pain point. Purina executives and internal experts, as well as external independent evaluators, serve as judges.  

As Purina can only accept up to 10 companies in this cohort, to ensure they are provided with adequate support and resources, Purina intends to invite all qualifying start-ups to apply, so that they can also be considered for the next cohorts. 

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What are the timelines for 2024?

Applications open on September 1st, 2023, and close on October 15th, 2023. The cohort of 2024 will be chosen by February 1st, 2024, and the acceleration program will be from February 26th to July 12th, 2024. 

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When will a startup know if they’ve been selected?

There are three rounds of judging, and the selected startups will be contacted for interview sand pitches on Teams:

  • Round 1 and Round 2 judging is in November 2023
  • Round 3 is in December 2023

Winners will be notified in April 2024.

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Will there be a pitch event?

Candidates who make it to Round 2 will be invited to pitch virtually.

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Does a startup team need to be in Switzerland during the acceleration?

Unleashed is a non-residential programme. With some exceptions, the team assigned to the startup will usually be located in their country.

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What happens during the 20-week programme?

Each startup will have a carefully selected multi-disciplinary Purina team, with commercial and subject experts to support their acceleration objectives, with predetermined KPIs to prove their concept within 20 weeks. The scope of work, which should have a value exchange between the startup and Purina, will be mutually agreed prior to the final selection.

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What happens after the acceleration?

Our previous experience has demonstrated that a trusting relationship will be built. Upon the achievement of the goals of the collaboration, Purina may further invest in the company or continue a commercial or R&D collaboration. After the acceleration period, if there is no mutual agreement to continue the collaboration, the startup can continue to work independently. 

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Will Purina invest in the start-ups?

During the acceleration, Purina will fund the mutually agreed value exchange project with up to 50,000 CHF (52,000 euros) to achieve the pre-determined KPIs. This funding is non-dilutive to the startup.  Upon completion of the acceleration, and the validation of the relevance of the startup’s technology to pets and their parents, Purina may invest further in the company.

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Is there a contract that startups will need to sign? What are the conditions?

Yes, as with all accelerator programmes there is an agreement with Unleashed. Conditions are quite standard. Generally, they are:  

  • While working with Unleashed, you should not be working on the same project with another global pet care company. 

For a period after the programme:

  1. Purina has an exclusive option to negotiate and close a commercial or R&D agreement with the startup.
  2. Purina will also have an exclusive option to participate and match the terms of the startups next financing round.
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How can a start-up protect its technology?

It is important to us that a startup's IP is protected:

  • All background IP will remain with the startup.
  • Data and learnings during the programme will be jointly owned and can be used by both parties.
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Is Purina planning to create synergies between startups/companies that Purina has acquired/invested in the past?

Reliable and trusted networks of like-minded entrepreneurs are a very valuable resource for startups. Purina will facilitate connections with their businesses to help startups to network, find synergies, inspiration and support as relevant. 

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What is the geographical scope?

This year, Purina has extended the geographical scope for the Unleashed programme to include Brazil and Mexico, as well as Europe, Asia and Oceania.

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Mars and its Kinship also have an accelerator. How is Unleashed different?

Purina does not comment on any of its competitors.  

Unleashed has been the first of its kind in terms of the concept, which is R&D powered and business aligned. It is not residential, nor curriculum based. Startups are evaluated for their specific needs and the programme is specially curated for them, with expert support and funding to prove their concept directly in their entry market.