Based in South Korea, the accelerator recently kicked off the programme with its second batch of five start-ups.
“We are excited to welcome the five new NX start-ups, especially with reference to the success of last year. Our NX start-ups showed average growth rates of 130%. In line with Beiersdorf’s global C.A.R.E.+ strategy, we have launched several successful co-innovation projects with the start-ups and invested into Lycl Inc., a beauty start-up from the first NX batch,” said Endrik Hasemann, general manager Korea and co-founder of NIVEA Accelerator.
Jacek Brozda, co-founder NIVEA Accelerator, told CosmeticsDesign-Asia that the accelerator is well on its way to becoming the number one start-up accelerator in Asia.
“In Korea, I would say we have a very solid position – maybe the leading position actually. To be number one is to be top of mind for the start-ups in Asia. If a start-up has to choose an acceleration program, they would have to choose us as the leading destination for acceleration.”
To achieve this goal, Brozda explained that NX has to remain extremely discerning when it comes to selecting start-ups.
“We really focus on quality, not quantity. We only choose five companies… This has worked well for us, helped us to maximise attention on those five companies and make the best out of that.”
In order to find the crème de la crème, top executives from Beiersdorf look for certain criteria, explained Brozda.
“The first thing we look at is people – the founders, the CEO, the team – this is the most important. Secondly, we look at the potential of the company. And then the performance – we look at their consumers, traction, the way they have established themselves in the market. And also, we look at the price, which refers to the valuation of the companies.”
The accelerator also makes a point to spend enough time with these budding businesses.
“Other accelerators have a three- or six-month program... Usually, it's a short program with a lot of start-ups that are filtered during the program. We have five companies for one year. It's a really long-term accelerator. We prefer to have a one-year long term partnership and project that can also go beyond that,” said Brozda.
Expansion in the works?
With the success in South Korea, the accelerator hopes to replicate its success with other start-ups around Asia.
“We want to open ourselves to start-ups from other countries. For instance, start-ups from China can apply to Korea and we can be the bridge and enable them to enter the Korean market, as well as vice-versa,” said Brozda.
Hasemann highlighted that Beiersdorf’s objective was ‘open’ itself up to working with more innovative start-ups.
“The beauty industry is changing fundamentally. A big driver of this change is coming via small companies — new disruptive small companies with great innovation and NX is our platform to really work together with them.”
He added that while South Korea was a ‘fantastic’ market for NX, it is keen to find more interesting companies in other markets.
One country the programme has its eyes on its China, where local brands like Perfect Diary have found immense success domestically, said Brozda.
“In certain areas, China is probably the most advanced country already and we also see the rise of local brands and C-beauty is coming. Every year we see more, so I think it’s a very interesting market for us.”
Hasemann added: “From what I’ve read, seen and heard from our colleagues, C-beauty is growing extremely fast within China. There may be potential outside of China, we don’t know to be honest, but within China itself is a big enough market.”
The future of beauty
Hasemann believes the landscape of the beauty industry will shift more prominently in the coming years.
“The beauty market itself will change more significantly than we have seen in the previous years. It's being powered by technology I would say. What we want to do next is to find the right companies working on these trends to help us to co-innovate in those areas.”
In terms of beauty trends, Hasemann predicted that we will continue to see some existing one dominating the market.
“If you look into the future, there will be those trends that already exist and will continue to grow for sure. Mainly natural and organic... Sustainability is one cluster maybe. This we have seen in Europe over the past years significantly growing and I think now it’s really starting to pick up in Korea and Asia much more.”
NX currently has two beauty start-ups focusing on organic ingredients.
The first is Femmue, a premium face care brand inspired by flower therapy, and the second is Beigic, a minimalistic vegan skin care brand powered by coffee.
One particularly interesting concept Hasemann highlighted was the notion of co-innovation, which NX is already seeing in its latest batch of start-ups.
WOOHWAMAN, for instance, is an ‘innovation platform’ which facilitates co-creation with beauty consumers.
“They have a platform where consumers can basically create a concept and then the company would use this concept that have been raised by the consumer... And then they develop product based on this and the consumer who posted it will get a cut out of the success. I think this is quite innovative and quite interesting.”