Future strategic partners
Launched in May 2014, The Unilever Foundry provides a single entry-point for technology startups seeking to partner with Unilever. It gives them the opportunity to develop and work on global projects, and tap into funding through Unilever Ventures.
At its heart is a unique mentorship programme. Typically spanning three months, Unilever mentors work with entrepreneurs to craft their brand vision, marketing strategy and product roadmap, either as part of a structured curriculum or through tailored one-on-one dialogue.
“Unilever is the second largest advertiser in the world and we’re always looking to pioneer new ways of connecting with the people we serve. The Unilever Foundry mentorship programme allows us to support and cultivate new businesses that might grow into being Unilever’s long-term strategic partners,” comments Marc Mathieu, SVP, Marketing.
Sowing the seeds, reaping the benefits
Over the past 18 months, we have been piloting the programme through startup accelerators around the world. In the UK, we are partnering with Collider, a B2Brand accelerator, where Unilever mentors work with Collider’s marketing and advertising technology startups to help them develop their propositions and secure pilots.
Both companies are already seeing the benefits of the collaboration. Unilever has access to the latest marketing technology and gets exposure to new ways of working, while to date five Collider startups have signed revenue-generating deals with Unilever brands.
Rose Lewis, founder of Collider, says: “At Collider we are focused on helping our startups become sustainable businesses, supporting them to develop their propositions, business plans and technology roadmaps, and prepare them for future fundraising. Unilever’s input is crucial in ensuring that our startups are solving brands’ real problems and helping them get deals done.”
Inspiring new ideas & ways of working
One Collider startup is Sumo Insight, an innovative market research company. Co-Founder Tina Newport explains: “Unilever has been instrumental in helping us fine-tune our product positioning and prioritise the next stage of development on our roadmap. We are now in a great position to be able to take our business forward.”
Sam Oakley from Stashmetrics, another Collider startup, notes: “Through our mentors we were able to get a real understanding of how Unilever works, where and when to push, and importantly, when to let opportunities pass. They’ve been a huge help in setting us going on what I hope will be a rewarding journey for both parties.”
Join the programme
Startups can find a mentor at foundry.unilever.com/mentors. Simply select a mentor based on their skills and geography, then message them directly to request their involvement.