PURCHASE, NY. — The winner of the second annual PepsiCo North America Greenhouse accelerator program is Spudsy, a Costa Mesa, Calif., based producer of sweet potato puff snacks. Ten emerging food and beverage brands participated in the six-month business program, which offers mentorship and resources to early-stage entrepreneurs.
Spudsy was selected as the winner by a committee of leaders within PepsiCo based on product and brand qualities. As part of its mission to reduced food waste, the brand sources imperfect sweet potatoes to create the sweet potato flour used in its puffs and is on track to recover approximately 1 million sweet potatoes by 2021. The company will receive a $100,000 grant from PepsiCo, which it plans to use to continue to grow its internal team and support key retailers, said Ashley Rogers, founder of Spudsy.
“Our mentors really supported us in expanding our subscription business and overall strategy for expansion,” Ms. Rogers said. “They also helped us navigate the changing consumer landscape during a tricky time.”
PepsiCo’s Greenhouse program kicked off in February as COVID-19 started changing the retail landscape. The participating brands, which received $20,000 in grant funding, overcame the challenges and collectively grew average revenues more than 240% over the course of the program. PepsiCo mentors from such brands as Bare Snacks, KeVita and Stacy’s supported the participants in areas including marketing, distribution, manufacturing, supply chain, packaging, label claims, fundraising and other challenges retailed to growing and scaling a business. Due to the pandemic, the program switched to a virtual format and focused more on e-commerce capabilities.
“We are so proud of all of the finalists in this year’s Greenhouse program who persevered during a time that has forced companies big and small to rethink and adjust their business strategies,” said Daniel Grubbs, vice president, PepsiCo Ventures Group. “The Spudsy team was able to not only show tremendous growth in a few short months, but importantly was able to continue to build a strong purpose-driven brand.”
PepsiCo first launched the Greenhouse program in Europe in 2017 and expanded it to North America in 2018. The first winner was Austin, Texas-based Hapi Drinks, a sugar-free children’s beverage brand. Other brands participating in the recent program included Beauty Gourmet, Love Corn, MudLrk Snacks, Numilk, Nuttee Bean Co., Shindig LLC, Siren Snacks, Superfrau and Synapse.