Now in its third year, our Beer Garage Tech Incubator is officially in full swing with the first few weeks of the 11-week experience coming to a close. This one-of-a-kind product development, talent exchange and internship program uses the 11 weeks to drive the design and proof of concept of solutions to global business challenges from beginning to end. Radically cross-functional teams composed of interns, internal tech talent, business experts, and start-ups allow teams to quickly and effectively dive deep and gain understanding of the true business problems that they are trying to solve. Last year's cohort saw tremendous success following the annual Demo Day taking place at the conclusion of the program, with 60% of solutions coming out of the incubator able to scale across our portfolio. “Every year our goal is try and get bigger and better - to push ourselves and exceed the expectations of the previous year,” explained Adi Abili, who leads the Beer Garage Tech Incubator. “One of the differences we see in this year's cohort is in the range of projects. We have projects touching supply, marketing, sustainability, legal, sales and logistics, and we have talent from all parts of the company.”
Despite being the third year of the program, this year's cohort is the first to go 100% virtual due to restrictions from COVID-19. Though challenging, the teams have been keeping engaged and excited. The first two weeks of the cohort, the “Validation Phase,” have been dedicated to topics like pretotyping, (not prototyping!), idea validation, and market validation. As part of the application process, teams present a brief that includes a business challenge and a proposed solution. Once selected to participate, teams are expected to build an operational MVP of their proposed solution over the course of the 11 weeks, to be presented at Demo Day. While there is always room to evolve a solution from its initial iteration, the cohort today is facing a unique set of challenges specifically related to COVID-19. Because times have changed dramatically from just 6 months ago, teams must address how the mindset of their users may have shifted and how COVID-19 has impacted their value proposition. It is here where some of the biggest learnings from the first two weeks started to materialize, as teams realized that they must challenge everything and lean on each other for support.
In addition to spending time evaluating their solutions, the teams are also getting to virtually network with entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley who have shared experiences from their personal start-up journeys with the group. Our own Chief Strategy and Technology Officer, David Almeida, joined the group during the first week to address the future of technology and innovation in our company. He explained that projects started in the Tech Incubator are pushing the boundaries of what our core business could be by testing and creating new revenue streams beyond consumer goods products. "We have all these businesses that we are in the space to incubate,” said David. “They may or may not be a core part of the company, but they can create value."
The teams now find themselves moving out of the “Validation Phase” and into the “Build Phase,” where the next few weeks will be focused on design thinking and prototyping. A tremendous amount of thought goes into the decisions made within this critical phase – it is an exciting time for the teams! Stay tuned for more updates from the Beer Garage Tech Incubator as the summer progresses.