Technology/Services: Mondelez Backs Tech Startups

Mobile Futures program develops sampling service, pranking site

Candy manufacturer Mondelez International, Deerfield, Ill., is moving forward with its Mobile Futures initiative, having developed concepts by pairing internal teams with a venture-development firm.

Mondelez teamed up with Prehype, a venture-development firm based in New York, to launch two beta platforms: Prankstr, which allows users to prank their friends and share the experience through social networks, and Betabox, which distributes product samples through e-commerce companies.

Born out of Mondelez’s Mobile Futures initiative, which paired several of its product brands with startup entrepreneurs to drive mobile innovation, the concepts for Prankstr and Betabox were created by company employees.

“As part of the Mobile Futures program, we’re empowering our employees to be more entrepreneurial and providing them with a truly unique opportunity to execute on our mobile-first strategy,” said Bonin Bough, vice president of global media and consumer engagement at Mondelez, in a statement released by the company.

The ideas were generated during the second phase of Mobile Futures, which aimed to create and incubate completely new mobile ventures in just 90 days. After identifying the ideas, Mondelez employees partnered with venture developers at Prehype, who built and launched the products. Ultimately, both products are meant to operate as standalone startups.

Prankstr applies content-creation tools to humor. With 50 million prank videos on YouTube, Mondelez identified an emerging opportunity to provide consumers with a tool to help them craft funny content. Users can customize a selected prank and post it on their social channels. Once the task is complete, Prankstr aggregates the reactions into a video to share.

“We’re merging two of the fastest-growing trends on the Internet: prank-based videos and content creation tools. Pranking is just the first genre we’re going to reinvent. Ultimately, we’d like to enable users to be more effective and engaging storytellers across all types of stories they tell on social,” said Lauren Fleischer, senior associate brand manager for Mondelez.

After launching with initial company seed funding, Prankstr is seeking investors for additional funding.

Betabox, meanwhile, hopes to change the face of product sampling. Betabox enables brands to target their product samples at specific consumers by distributing them through reputable e-commerce partners. Betabox also engages recipients with a mobile platform that brands can customize to promote content, special offers and social sharing incentives.

The platform allows brands to insert samples into the outgoing boxes of compatible e-commerce companies with marketing material that encourages recipients to use their phone to engage further with the brand.

“Brands can sample their products with more accurate targeting, cost-effective distribution and better program analytics than traditional methods,” said Hadley Schafer, senior associate brand manager for Mondelez.

After completion of the beta testing, the team will be looking for seed funding to finance product development and sales.