M13 Venture Studio Launchpad Opens up First Cohort with PepsiCo

Francesca Billington

Francesca Billington is a freelance reporter. Prior to that, she was a general assignment reporter for dot.LA and has also reported for KCRW, the Santa Monica Daily Press and local publications in New Jersey. She graduated from Princeton in 2019 with a degree in anthropology.

M13 Venture Studio Launchpad Opens up First Cohort with PepsiCo

In one of Anna Barber's first moves since taking over M13's year-old venture studio Launchpad, the former Techstars managing director is opening up applications for its first founders-in-residence program.

Funded by PepsiCo, one of the world's largest beverage companies, the 12-week program is aimed at founders and entrepreneurs with backgrounds in food, nutrition or consumer products.

Unlike traditional VC funds that invest in other founders, the venture studio starts companies of its own. The model has become increasingly popular.

Barber says she wants to cultivate wellness companies that are accessible to most consumers and envisions a range of applicants, from serial founders to health and wellness experts without startup experience.

"It could open up the opportunity to people that might not have previously considered it," Barber said. "There's always a gap between when you decide to start something and when you raise capital and can pay yourself. This will allow you to begin the founder journey immediately."

Barber, who joined M13 two weeks ago, said Launchpad is looking to build companies like Rae, the women's wellness brand that stocks supplements in Target, Athropologie and Urban Outfitters. It was the first startup to be internally incubated at M13.

Since the studio began last year, three companies have launched in partnership with Procter and Gamble Ventures — skincare companies OPTE and Bodewell along with menopause supplement brand Kindra.

"It's not enough to invest capital in companies," Barber said. "We really need to help them grow faster by asking and answering the right questions, and to give them unfair advantages in the form of knowledge and access and platform."

The program, which begins in March, provides $10,000 monthly stipends to 12 individuals. Applications are slated to close Jan. 4.

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