August 24th marked the culmination of this year’s Zxlerator – Demo Day. The cohort of 50 ABI intrapreneurs and summer interns tackled 14 huge challenges facing our business. Last month, they had the chance to get on stage and pitch the businesses they built this summer in pursuit of investment.
Zxlerator is an 11-week program where existing employees and summer intern’s work together to identify a real problem, validate a solution, and build a viable business model. Basically, they start a business. These ventures are early stage – often starting from just an idea – so we start out with an intensive two-week boot camp. This is a crash course in how to start a company. Teams then gain access to a slew of internal and external mentors to call on, and programming designed to help them leverage our core business. We couldn’t be more impressed with the work they completed!
Read on to find out what some of the brilliant innovators and creators had to say about the program:
Jessica Douglass, a member of the Chameleon Canning team, which is working to find a solution for expensive product labelling in the beer industry through canned beers.
Did you enjoy the Accelerator program? “I absolutely did—it was an incredible opportunity to build a business from the ground up, and get to work with a team with such different backgrounds. We really came together, knowing nothing about each other on day one, to being super close now, and having built something that really speaks to the consumer. It was an incredible experience.”
What would you say was your biggest challenge or reward? “We had a lot of challenges, but I think it’s more fun to focus on the rewards. Our biggest reward was hearing from the customers we ended up selling to just how much this would mean for their business. We were able to supply cans to beverage companies, and they told us how much it would really transform the way they do business, the way they were able to sell, and the way they were able to present their brand. It was so incredible hearing how this would affect their lives.”
Would you recommend the program to others? “I totally would. I think it’s the perfect balance of being able to work at a large company with getting that startup feel, seeing how it is to build a business from the ground up.”
Kimberly Montgomery, was a member of another team this summer and a full-time entrepreneur at ZX Ventures. Her team was addressing casual drinking occasions.
Did you enjoy the Accelerator program? “I loved it. It was such a great program. It was an amazing opportunity to get outside your day job and try something new. To explore a problem and find a solution.”
What would you say was the biggest challenge or the best part of the program for you? “It’s intense. It’s an 11-week intensive program. You come in on day one, you get sent this challenge, and you need to go away and solve it. For me [the biggest challenges were] the scale of what you needed to solve and how quickly you needed to work. You need to start making decisions, finding answers, and challenging yourself to leave the office and put yourself in uncomfortable situations. It’s also one of the most rewarding parts, because you start the day feeling really nervous, and then by the end of the day you realize that you’ve learned so much, talked to so many people, gotten so many new ideas, and discovered so many new perspectives. So, I think that’s the most rewarding part as well.”
Ronnie Palejwala is a member of the Cooler Insights team, which worked to create state-of-the-art sensor technology that will help businesses more easily meet the needs of their consumers.
Did you enjoy being a part of the Accelerator program?
“Yeah, absolutely. This summer was a whirlwind, but it was so much fun. Getting the autonomy and the independence that we got from the ZX team. I’ve had other internships here before, and they don’t even come close. This was a really special experience.”
What was your biggest challenge in a program like this, knowing that it’s competitive and so much is on the line?
“The biggest challenge is that there’s so much independence that you don’t really know how you’re doing at any point, and at some points there’s so much ambiguity that you don’t know what path to take. Making those decisions and figuring out which is the best path to go down is hard. I’d say the way we overcame that is we just came together as a team, we had conversations, we talked about different viewpoints, and we made decisions together as a team at those tough moments. Working through them was tough. I think, in the end, where we were able to get was great.”
Would you recommend the program to other people?
“Yeah, absolutely. I would be hard pressed to find a summer program where you could do more and have more impact and do something cooler than what we did here.”
It was a summer of exciting new start-ups, unique challenges and fresh ideas. We can’t wait to see where year three takes the Zxlerator program and watch the continued success of this year’s interns and ZX intrapreneurs.