BROOKLYN, NY – Caffeinated chocolate milk maker Spylt emerged as the grand prize winner of the 2022 NY MilkLaunch competition, a dairy-based product innovation accelerator.
The competition, which is run by corporate innovation advisory VentureFuel and the New York Dairy Promotion Order, was designed to fuel demand for dairy products among Gen Z consumers (10- to 23-year-olds). The winner in the second year of the accelerator, Spylt received $150,000 that will go toward scaling its product in the market.
Spylt’s dairy-based chocolate energy drinks are shelf stable, high in protein, low in sugar and lactose free. Each drink includes nutrients such as calcium, B vitamins, potassium and vitamin D. With the environment in mind, the company packages its drinks in recyclable, 12 oz aluminum cans.
Josh Mendenhall, founder and chief brand officer for Spylt, called the competition an “amazing program,” and credited all the brands involved that are innovating with dairy products.
"I'm so excited for Spylt to get out there in the world and have so many people taste it for themselves and fall in love with this high protein, low sugar, caffeinated chocolate milk,” Mendenhall said. “We are just getting started."
Food, beverage and venture capital experts from organizations such as Kraft Heinz, Chobani, Giant Eagle, KeHE, UNFI and Apex Global served on the judging panel for the competition. Dairy products were ranked based on uniqueness, taste, viability/scale and founding team. Plus, NY MilkLaunch polled more than 500 Gen Z consumers, via market research company Perksy, on which products they would purchase.
"We saw so many creative dairy ideas and new products that will energize Gen Z consumers, it was incredibly hard for our judges to choose just one," said Fred Schonenberg, founder and chief executive officer at VentureFuel. "Spylt delivers true differentiation to seize a new market for dairy that will drive incremental demand for New York dairy. Spylt embraced our entire mentorship program, engaging and learning from each of our industry experts – it's really cool how quickly they have developed their product. Their future is very, very bright and we are proud to have them as our winner."
Each member of the NY MilkLaunch cohort gets $10,000 for refining products and gets access to mentors with expertise in categories such as global marketing, packaging and distribution. This year, the competition included a focus on sustainable innovations for traditional dairy products.
The other five finalists were:
• True Scoops, a maker of shelf-stable ice cream and topping mixes.
• Mochidoki, a brand of premium mochi ice cream.
• Elite Sweets, a creator of low-sugar, gluten-free donuts formulated with protein from milk and eggs.
• Creme and Cocoa Creamery, a producer of Caribbean-inspired ice cream and sorbet.
• Novel Foods, a producer of protein powder made with whey leftover from cheese and yogurt production, and recovered nitrogen from dairy farm waste.