General Mills to invest in small business development

by Keith Nunes
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301 Inc. logo, General Mills
General Mills, Inc. has launched 301 INC, a business development venture capital firm that will work with food and beverage industry start-up companies.

MINNEAPOLIS — General Mills, Inc. has launched 301 INC, a business development venture capital firm that will work with food and beverage industry start-up companies. 301 INC, which takes its name from the address of the original Pillsbury mill, is seeking businesses that have demonstrated early success, have a strong product offering and an expandable brand, according to the company.

John Haugen, 301 Inc
John Haugen, v.p. and general manager of 301 INC.

“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.”

The initiative initially was launched in 2012 as a new business development team within General Mills. That group identified ideas that were later used to introduce such new products as Progresso and Nature Valley Bistro Cups, Pillsbury Pancake Batter, and nibblr, a subscription-based snack service.

“Under our previous model, we were primarily building our own businesses from the ground up,” Mr. Haugen said. “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.”

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