L'Oréal has announced a new annual program in partnership with Founders Factory, a digital accelerator and incubator in London. Together, the corporations will invest in five beauty tech startups from around the world, as well as co-create two brand new companies every year. L'Oréal, which owns brands like Lancome, Maybelline and Kiehl's, will help these early-stage startups in launching products and services while Founders Factory will mentor them on digital strategy.
In addition, L'Oréal has invested financially in Founders Factory, where three of its executives will hold seats on the beauty sector committee. "This strategic investment will give L'Oréal direct access to a powerful global ecosystem of exciting startups 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," said Lubomira Rochet, L'Oréal's chief digital officer and executive committee member, in a statement. Merging beauty and tech is something that L'Oréal CEO Jean-Paul Agon has focused on for some time. From the company's own technology incubator in San Francisco, L'Oréal has released the makeover app Makeup Genius and My UV Patch, a stretchable skin sensor that monitors UV exposure.
While accelerator and incubator programs are becoming more readily available in the fashion industry for emerging designers, they're only recently gaining traction in the beauty world. Sephora jumped on the opportunity earlier this year with Sephora Accelerate, a special boot camp that took place in April at its San Francisco headquarters for 10 early-stage, female-led startups. The chosen cohorts, who hail from all over North America, will demo their products in August.