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After a break in its acceleration program due to the pandemic, Bauducco resumed its work with startups in the biggest gas. With a focus on digital business, the world’s largest panettone maker is conducting a new cycle of pilot projects. The main goal is to boost revenue generation and its digital transformation, while fostering the national startup environment.

Launched in the second half of 2019, the B.Lab acceleration program was developed in partnership with Liga Ventures, which is also leading the current cycle of the initiative. For the company founded by Italian immigrant Carlo Bauducco to produce panettones – a traditional fruit cake – 70 years ago, the program’s objectives include the modernization of the brand and an even closer relationship with consumers.

“The focus of the program is to add value to the ecosystem of open innovation and startups, while also bringing business opportunities and rejuvenating the way we work”, said Luis Fernando Iannini Gomes, marketing manager at Bauducco and one of the program sponsors, in an interview with Startups.

About 380 startups applied to participate in the two-month program, and 16 startups were selected for the final, which took place in late June at Yahoo‘s offices in São Paulo. The company’s top management participated in the event, as well as managers from business areas directly involved with the acceleration program, which focuses on early-stage startups as well as companies that are already gaining scale.

For the second phase of B.Lab, Bauducco selected four companies: the shopstreaming platform Mimo Live Sales; Bornlogic, which allows sellers to produce marketing campaigns for stores; Postmetria, which develops a platform for analyzing consumer satisfaction and Wiboo Company, for online engagement.

The duration of the program is four months. During this period, the companies will work on pilot projects for the company’s digital businesses, with the follow-up and mentoring of the company’s executives, which has six manufacturing units and seven distribution centers, serves more than 180,000 points of sale in Brazil and exports its products to more than 50 countries.

Strategic focus

In the first wave of the program, Bauducco’s focus on working with startups was broader. The company considered startups in areas such as supply chain and industry, food and packaging technology, market intelligence and marketing, as well as initiatives that used innovative approaches and focused on the Casa Bauducco coffeeshop franchising business.

Among the startups selected in the first wave were Novidá, which manages operational teams, and Pixforce, a company using computer vision to count items from an image feed, using smartphones or cameras installed on a production line.

According to Gomes, three of the four pilot projects developed with startups were successful, and two of the startups that participated in the first wave of B.Lab continue as suppliers of the company. In the second stage, the company decided to adopt a B2C focus on e-commerce, investigating ways to improve the way it communicates with its target audience, in addition to accelerating its internal digitization.

Luis Gomes, marketing manager at Bauducco, at the event for the second edition of B.Lab (Photo: Bauducco)

The decision to repurpose the program with a specific focus is directly related to the area that the company believes to be most promising. “[The choice to work with digital business projects] comes from the company’s strategic focus on what is the most fertile ground for opportunities and growth drivers”, said the executive.

Since the first wave of acceleration, the company has reaped good results. “The program generates business, brings enthusiasm to the internal areas, introduces new technologies and different ways of working and disseminates a very nice culture of innovation in the company”, Gomes noted.

Lessons learned

On the other hand, Bauducco‘s manager points out that working with startups also brought important learnings. “It is necessary to have a cadence and a recurrence of projects conducted in an agile model, in addition to the involvement of the leadership directly in the projects”, said the executive, adding that one of the new things in the second wave of the B.Lab is the structuring of the work of the senior management with startups throughout the program, something that was previously done more sporadically.

In the new format, each project will have four sponsors, internal supporters from different business areas that will follow and guide the accelerated ones to ensure the fit of innovations to the company’s business, and guarantee the returns for startups. “We will have the involvement of senior leadership, directors and executive managers in each of the projects, who will maintain frequent contact to ensure alignment and the necessary ground for the initiatives to prosper”, said Luis.

Reflecting on the lessons from the first wave of Bauducco‘s acceleration program, Luis says that acceptance was immediate, as was the management support to make the initiative happen, but that the company also learned about the need for follow-ups. “There is great excitement [about working with startups] but understanding how to make it a success and understanding that solutions do not come ready-made and that there is a process involved were some of the positive takeaways”, said the executive.

Despite the current macroeconomic situation, Gomes emphasizes that Bauducco is committed to working with the startup ecosystem to co-create scalable projects for the panettone maker, and at the same time provide the conditions for companies to grow and become increasingly profitable. “Our intention is to maintain the program, which will even go through all the turmoil of the second half of the year. We are always observing the market conditions, but with optimism”.

(translation by Leandro Miguel Souza)

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