Australia’s first FMCG-only business incubator, Seedlab Australia, has recently shared its first impact report revealing the astoundingly positive effects on Australian and New Zealand FMCG businesses and startups felt through their incubator program, Bootcamp and accelerator program, Cultivate.
Financially backed by a $4 million investment from Woolworths and having been operational for only 18-months, Seedlab Australia’s achievements outlined in the recent stakeholder impact report are in line with their mission of funding both new and existing FMCG businesses with intel, not capital, and at no cost, resulting in a projected $11m in sales, saved expenditure and increased business value in the next 12 months for 72 businesses that have completed the Accelerator program.
According to a recent State Of Australian Startup Funding report, there was a 30% reduction in overall investment into Australian startups in 2022. Further, just five per cent of women founders (versus 28% of men) believe there are many funding options available to founders, and 33% don’t feel supported by the startup ecosystem (versus 26% of men), making Seedlab Australia’s mission more important and timely than ever, particularly in terms of its intel offering in order to expedite a startup’s journey and success.
Seedlab Australia’s Bootcamp and Cultivate curricula (or program) are designed to educate businesses and entrepreneurs with specially tailored programs, masterclasses, access to industry specialists and more, giving participants invaluable information and real-word examples of what it takes to turn their FMCG business dreams into a reality.
Bootcamp and Cultivate modules cover a range of content across business, consumers, product, supply, brand and pitching, while Cultivate aims to build on Bootcamp while equipping businesses via 1:1 mentoring, plus additional leadership and marketing modules, as well as the ins and outs of becoming a better supermarket supplier.
Cultivate helped to launch at least 32 new products into Woolworths from 74% women and eight per cent First Nations led businesses, with 37 businesses now having created 50 new full-time jobs after completing the program.
Seedlab’s six-week Bootcamp program attracted 780 applicants eager to take part in the groundbreaking incubator with 239 (31%) being selected to participate.
After completing Bootcamp, participating businesses collectively increased their turnover by $6.55m with $10.9m forecasted for the next 12-months. Bootcamp has also boosted investment into Seedlab-affiliated businesses by $6.1m. After completing Seedlab programs, participants experienced an average increase of 81% in confidence when pitching their products, and 76% uplift in confidence in the way they conduct business.
Seedlab Australia founder Dr Hazel MacTavish-West.
Driven by their collective passion for community, product innovation, food science and technology, and entrepreneurship, Founder Dr. Hazel-MacTavish West and business partner and husband, Darren West created Seedlab Australia with a goal to support FMCG startup, micro and small businesses to start, scale and grow, making their business dreams a reality, and to ultimately, change the lives of others Australia-wide as they deliver tasty, healthy and sustainable products that have a positive impact for all.
Dr. West’s background in food science and technology and first-hand experience in the challenges faced by many Australians attempting to kickstart a business, has primed her to deliver timely, insightful educational material, alongside Seedlab Australia’s wider team of industry experts.
“Entering the huge and highly competitive Australian FMCG sector is daunting, difficult, and fraught with risk of failure and financial ruin. Having Seedlab Australia support de-risks the process of identifying why and how to become retail ready, and illustrates what good looks like to the founders. This kind of support is priceless. For our participants, participation in Seedlab is also free, thanks to the support from Woolworths,” Dr. West said.
“Seedlab aims to support a generation of FMCG founders, startups and micro and small businesses to bring truly unique products to the market that fill real consumer needs. We work with businesses with clearly differentiated, sought after products across health and wellness food and drinks, as well as sustainably produced personal and home care products rather than ‘me too’ products that could be found anywhere.”
Seedlab Australia’s intel has helped founders expedite their time to market substantially, with a reach that would otherwise be unattainable. Seedlab Australia participant Loredana owns and operates San Elk, a small, family-owned business specialising in premium quality, organic cooking stock made from real vegetables, meat and fresh herbs and spices.
“The content, materials, guidance and advice from expert Seedlab mentors has provided me with confidence, new skills and knowledge to scale up and grow the San Elk business, and we now have three SKUs in 200 Woolworths stores across the Eastern Seaboard,” said Loredana.
At the end of Cultivate, participants are given a unique opportunity to present to Woolworths category managers at an exclusive, private expo run in conjunction with Woolworths. Businesses with products in demand, may be selected to have their unique products stocked in selected Woolworths stores throughout Australia.
Looking ahead, Seedlab Australia’s aim this year is to increase participants’ products in stores around the country, and grow the proportion of businesses founded by diverse groups of people that are generally under-represented in other incubators.
“Our focus is on businesses producing high quality artisan products for the premium entertaining occasions, health and wellness foods and drinks, and sustainably produced personal and home care products,” Dr. West said.
“We also love the fact that demand continues to grow from founders who identify as being women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, and/or gender diverse. We have created a safe place to learn, share and grow.”
For more information about Seedlab Australia, visit seedlabaustralia.com.au.
Read more about Woolworths’ $4 million investment in Seedlab at woolworthsgroup.com.au.