We’ve written before about JetBlue’s sustainability initiatives; from their inclusion of cricket flour protein bars as an in-flight option to their partnership to food startup accelerator AccelFoods, they’ve proved their commitment to to the triple bottom line time and again. Now they’re taking it to the next level: They’re launching a small business mentorship program for a New York-based food or beverage company.
The program, fittingly named BlueBud, provides one lucky winner with free intensive business consulting. “It’s like if all you wanted to do was break into a Whole Foods market, and then Whole Foods came to you and said, ‘we can’t take you now but we’re going to spend a week going over your business with you and telling you how you can sell here and with all grocery stores,’” says Sophia Mendelsohn of JetBlue’s sustainability office. You have until April 27 to apply and jumpstart your business.
They’ve already received a high volume of applications, and the products represented range from small pastries and parfaits to juices and smoothies. The size of the businesses vary widely as well; while they capped the number of employees at 500, they’ve received applications from companies that don’t even have website yet. Think you might be interested in applying? They’re looking for sweet and savory snacks and beverages, and out-of-the-box thinkers are encouraged to participate. “The point is that we’re trying to be open-minded,” she says.
While the program does not guarantee a contract with JetBlue, it does include a full week of training at their headquarters in Long Island City and Orlando. They’re looking to support small businesses whose products can appeal to a broad audience. Sophia acknowledges that trying to source great snacks on planes is accompanied by several unique challenges. “It’s like if the MTA were trying to find a snack that everyone on the subway likes,” she laughs.
She also pointed out that airplanes and theme parks are some of the final frontiers for nutritious snacks. “They’re such an obvious place to put good food,” she explained, after describing a $7 bag of desperation M&Ms she bought last week at the theatre. From a producer’s perspective, tapping into this type of market can be a golden opportunity: Imagine being the only small-batch popsicle maker amidst the throngs of overheated (conscientious) eaters at a water park in July.
They’re only choosing one winner this round, but they’re hoping to continue the program if this inaugural cycle is successful. Apply today and help eliminate bad plane food for 31 million customers across the world.