NYS MilkLaunch, a new startup competition focused on accelerating product innovation for dairy products in New York State, has selected Slate Milk as the winner of its inaugural competition. Slate has been awarded $150,000 worth of support to accelerate their new product in the market.
Over 1,000 consumers combined with 8 expert judges, including the President of Chobani and Head of Investments at Zx Ventures, voted on uniqueness, taste, viability and the founding team. Slate is a low sugar, higher protein line of lactose-free milks for everyone – not just children. They developed a vanilla flavor specifically for the competition.
MilkLaunch is run by leading corporate innovation consultancy VentureFuel in collaboration with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets and the New York Dairy Promotion Order (DPO) Advisory Board. The open competition included global applicants ranging from idea stage to existing new products with sales under $250,000, that contain at least 50% fluid milk.
Co-Founders Manny Lubin and Josh Belinsky commented, "There were plenty of people in the NY Ag community who took a chance on us, and helped us launch when we were just an idea. To now have that same community award us the grand prize is extremely exciting. Slate is simply a compilation of all of our employees, investors, advisors and partners. We can't wait to continue to grow and innovate real milk with NY Ag as a partner!"
"Our goal with this program was to re-imagine and re-invigorate liquid dairy through new products that capture new consumers to drive demand for dairy in New York state," said Fred Schonenberg, Founder of VentureFuel. "Slate exhibits the best of external innovation – utilizing core products in new and exciting ways that can accelerate growth for an entire industry."
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "Congratulations to Slate Milk and to all of the finalists in this exciting competition. MilkLaunch is the first of its kind competition for New York and it was enthusiastically supported by the DPO Advisory Board as having great potential to boost the dairy industry in New York State. Now more than ever consumers are interested in buying local and wanting to know where their food comes from. Our winner and finalists have put forth innovative dairy products that are sure to appeal to consumers who are looking for a fresh new way to enjoy milk, all while supporting our dairy farmers and driving demand for New York milk."
The other 3 finalists included:
- Karviva: Gold Sage: inspired by ancient wisdom, backed by modern science, these wellness drinks infuse functional ingredients like turmeric and other minerals into NY milk to deliver a full range of health benefits.
- Superfrau: An Alpine-inspired electrolyte elixir made by upcycling surplus whey and infusing it with unique flavors like cucumber lime, lemon elderflower and peach mango. A hydrating, protein and nutrient-packed recovery drink that promotes sustainability in the dairy industry.
- Pursue Happiness Cold Brew Cowffee: Innovative dairy-based, shelf-stable coffee drink with high protein, low sugar and added CLA Plus for increased health benefits.
All four semi-finalists received $15,000 worth of support each to develop a prototype, while receiving a suite of resources including graphic design, lab or kitchen time, and elite mentorship from global marketing, packaging, and distribution experts from companies including Chobani, Diageo, Pod Foods, Hudson Valley Fresh, Blue Hill Farm and more. The total value of the competition prizing is over $210,000.
About The New York State Dairy Promotion Advisory Board
The Dairy Promotion Advisory Board consists of ten New York milk producers appointed by the Commissioner of the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets, who serve a three-year term. The first New York State Dairy Promotion Advisory Board was appointed in May 1972 at the request of dairy producers. The board advises the Commissioner on the disposition of approximately $15 million a year in funds collected from milk producers under the producer-approved DPO. It also makes recommendations on promotion and nutrition education programs and various dairy product and research projects. Learn more at https://agriculture.ny.gov/dairy/dairy-promotion-order.
About VentureFuel, Inc.
VentureFuel helps established companies around the world unlock growth and discover efficiencies by partnering with emerging startups and breakthrough technologies. Our innovation programs solve specific challenges with tangible results, discover first-to-market opportunities and help large organizations develop a repeatable innovation mindset. We are 100% independent, sourcing from our global network of the best investors, scouts, founders and academics. Learn more at: www.venturefuel.net, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram. You can listen to The VentureFuel Podcast here or on Apple, Spotify.
Renee Rossi, Relativity Ventures
Jola Szubielski, NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets