This week, The Good Business Festival took place in the UK’s Liverpool City region, with six events across three days designed to highlight how businesses can drive and shape positive change. As part of the event, L’Oréal UK & Ireland led a ‘Tech For Good’ open innovation competition calling on beauty startups, innovators and entrepreneurs in the field to showcase ideas that centred on sparking positive change through technology.
Following several pitches, a judging panel selected the skin care app startup Clear as its winner – a tool and social platform designed for consumers to track and share skin care routines with other individuals, creating a “more social, transparent and inclusive” forum.
As the competition winner, Clear would receive mentoring under a four-month accelerator programme with L’Oréal’s in-house team of experts, along with contact time with senior management from L’Oréal UK & Ireland. Natural skin care startup Naturally Tribal Skincare was voted runner up and would receive mentoring sessions from L’Oréal UK & Ireland management to help support future business growth.
‘Innovation can come from anywhere and we need to be open to that’
Speaking to CosmeticsDesign-Europ, Lex Bradshaw-Zanger, chief marketing officer at L’Oréal UK and Ireland, said competitions like these were vital for smaller startups, but also bigger beauty players like L’Oréal.
“We’re always running open innovation programmes; it’s always an ‘on’ piece,” Bradshaw-Zanger said. Worldwide, L’Oréal was engaged in a vast number of incubator and accelerator relationships, he said, but doing so in a public forum and competition setting added visibility.
“Innovation can come from anywhere, and we need to be open to that,” he said.
Bradshaw-Zanger said Clear’s CEO and founder Ahana Banerjee had an “amazing” story to share about overcoming personal challenges and wanting to create a tool and platform that built a community mindset around skin care.
“When we think about skin care and skin care challenges, whether it’s acne or more medical challenges, this impacts people in multiple different ways (…) and it has an impact on self-esteem. [Banerjee] talks about that,” he said.
A skin care app harnessing ‘knowledge of the crowd’
The Clear app also demonstrated how technology could be used for good in beauty, he said, harnessing the “knowledge of the crowd” and “power of the web”. Importantly, it also offered this to consumers in a very authentic and trusting way, he said.
L’Oréal UK & Ireland would now work with Clear to help it “get to scale” and build a “profitable and sustainable business”, Bradshaw-Zanger said.
Banerjee said: “The competition is such a fantastic initiative to support innovative beauty startups like Clear and I am really looking forward to receiving mentorship from and working closely with the L’Oréal team in the coming months.”
L’Oréal had already widely invested in and mentored startups in the beauty tech space over the years, with long-running programmes like its accelerator and incubator initiatives supporting the likes of envoPAP, a startup manufacturing sustainable packaging and paper using renewable sources like sugarcane waste instead of wood, and Beauty Matching Engine, a tech startup using AI and big data to offer personalised retail models.
Bringing such initiatives into a public forum, however, highlighted the power of these collaborations to wider industry and shined light on well-deserved innovations amongst consumers, Bradshaw-Zanger said. “It was a really great way of giving back to startups, even those that we don’t select to win,” he said.