General Mills’ new business unit to invest in food startups

October 28, 2015

General Mills has launched a new business development and venturing unit—301 INC—to build partnerships with emerging food brands to create breakthrough innovation in the food space. Through 301 INC, entrepreneurs and early stage food companies will have access to capital and the knowledge and expertise of General Mills to develop, grow, and expand their businesses.

“The rapidly evolving consumer landscape is dramatically changing the game in the food industry,” said John Haugen, vice president and general manager of 301 INC. “Tremendous opportunity exists outside of General Mills to partner with and foster emerging food brands.”

301 INC, which takes its name from the address of the original Pillsbury A Mill in Minneapolis, is seeking businesses that have demonstrated early success in the marketplace, have a remarkable product offering and a strong, expandable brand.

Originally cast as a new business development team by General Mills in 2012, 301 INC was charged with developing and launching new business models to generate growth for General Mills. This team worked as entrepreneurs within the walls of General Mills, bringing to market disruptive products including Progresso and Nature Valley Bistro Cups, the first food products made with a single cup coffee brewer, Pillsbury Pancake Batter, a novel innovation that put pancakes in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, and nibblr, a customizable subscription-based snack delivery service.

“Under our previous model, we were primarily building our own businesses from the ground up,” said Haugen. “That experience was invaluable and has given us significant insights into the challenges small, emerging businesses face in the marketplace. It has helped us to more clearly define the role 301 INC can play moving forward. We believe we can meet consumer needs faster than ever by combining the vision and passion of entrepreneurs with General Mills extensive capabilities.”

Press release