The Coca‑Cola Company wasn’t always the global business it is today. Once upon a time we were just starting out, like every other business has to – learning a lot, and sometimes learning things the hard way. It took us a while to get to where we are now, so now we want to help the next generation do the same – go global.
Celebrating its third year in 2018, the Thrive Project is an initiative developed by Cola-Cola and Enterprise Ireland to achieve exactly that.
Each year the founders of several fast-growing Irish food companies are chosen to complete the Thrive Project’s crash-course leadership programme. Then, after six months of knowledge-sharing from both Coca‑Cola and Enterprise Ireland, those founders come away with the tools, know-how and the confidence to take themselves to the next level.
On 29th January, the Thrive Project’s class of 2018 – its third cohort – celebrated their graduation from the programme at a celebratory event in Dublin. Making up the eight were entrepreneurs representing Brogan’s Bakery, Cahill’s Farm Cheese, craft brewery The White Hag, dessert makers Couverture, high-protein frozen yogurt company Pow-Cow, frozen plant based product innovator Strong Roots, supplement company Revive Active, and bread-maker Walsh’s Bakehouse.
Of course, all eight passed with flying colours. But what exactly did they get up to over those six months?
Well, it all kicked off with an introductory session at the Coca‑Cola Ireland offices in Dublin, before all eight were flown over to The Coca‑Cola Company headquarters in Atlanta where they underwent an intensive three-day boot camp on business strategy, run by a handful of Coca‑Cola’s senior executives.
Then the jet-setting eight were flown to London for a two-day workshop at Coca‑Cola’s Western Europe Headquarters, where they met with global experts on consumer insights and new product development.
From there, the class of 2018 visited Innocent’s Fruit Towers. As a brand that has very recently embarked on the successful journey from start-up to international stardom itself, the team at Innocent were able to shed some light on how they accomplished exactly what our eight Thrive Project companies are building towards.
And – between all the fun of airport transfers and online check-ins – back in Ireland the group benefitted from round-the-clock access to the insights, expertise and innovative ideas of some of Coca‑Cola’s leading global experts; while Enterprise Ireland provided support through strategic financial planning and access to one-on-one coaching sessions.
In short, a lot was packed into six months.
Speaking at the 2018 graduation, Coca‑Cola Ireland Country Manager, Petre Sandru reflected on the 2018 programme with a sizeable splash of optimism: “We’re delighted to be in a position to share our best practices and experience with these innovative Irish companies who all have the potential to become global brands. We congratulate each of the entrepreneurs for completing the programme,” he said, adding that: “we hope that they’ve found it to be worthwhile and wish them every success as they continue to expand their businesses."
Thrive Project ’18 Graduate and CEO of Strong Roots, Sam Dennigan, spoke pretty fondly of his experience over the six months: “The Thrive Project provided the perfect opportunity to learn from the experience of one of the most iconic global brands. This unique insight is invaluable to our company as we begin to scale our business and operations.”