L'Oreal will co-found two companies a year to explore the future of beauty

L'Oreal has invested "several million pounds" in the Founders Factory, an accelerator and incubator from two of Lastminute.com's co-founders.

L'Oreal: Cara Delavingne for the beauty brand
L'Oreal: Cara Delavingne for the beauty brand

The idea is to ferret out interesting entrepreneurs and start-ups innovating in beauty.

L’Oreal and Founders Factory will not only invest and help scale up five early-stage start-ups a year, but create two new start-ups "from scratch". The two companies will mentor and support start-ups, as well as jointly build new products and services.

L’Oreal hasn’t disclosed its investment, nor how much it plans to invest in the start-ups each year. This is the beauty giant’s first strategic investment in a tech incubator.

Founders Factory was set up by Lastminute.com co-founders Brent Hoberman and Henry Lane Fox, and serial entrepreneur Jim Meyerle. L’Oreal’s chief digital officer, Lubomira Rochet, will join the company’s board.

Rochet said: "This strategic investment will give L’Oréal direct access to a powerful global ecosystem of exciting start-ups and innovative technologies at their earliest stage allowing us to invest in and nurture innovative business models based on digital platforms to better serve consumers’ aspirations."

The big brand and start-up love-in

As brands struggle to attract and retain tech talent, they are increasingly turning to young, hungry (and cheap) start-ups to aid digital transformation.

Speaking yesterday at TrueStart’s Festival of Ideas, John Vary, innovation manager at John Lewis, said the retailer partnered with start-ups because "we don’t have the full monopoly on ideas".

"It’s about how we immerse and hear about ideas, and helping educating start-ups on what a business like John Lewis is looking for," he said of JLAB, the retailer’s incubator programme.

In the last month, Asos and Topshop announced their own plans to invest or partner with start-ups, while Unilever will be announcing the results of its Unilever Foundry initiative later this month.

"Mondelez also runs Shopper Futures, working with eight start-ups to explore the future of shopping over a period of 90 days.


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