will enable the company’s global brands to experiment with and pilot new technologies more efficiently, effectively and speedily. It will also provide start-ups and entrepreneurs the opportunity to develop and work on global projects, access mentoring from marketing professionals, and tap into a new source of funding through Unilever Ventures.
Keith Weed, Unilever Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, explains “We strive to be at the forefront of marketing and media innovation; to have our brands engage in the most creative, efficient and effective ways with the people we serve. Although we have been working with start-ups for years, we now want to scale up our efforts and, ultimately, embed this as a way of working throughout our organisation.”
“The Unilever Foundry will be our single our platform to harness, nurture and evolve thousands of innovative ideas from the entrepreneurial community. It will simplify the way in which small start-ups and entrepreneurs engage with a company of our size, offering an exciting opportunity for the best and brightest to pilot their technology with us,” adds Marc Mathieu, Senior Vice President, Global Marketing. “Through The Unilever Foundry, we continue the Crafting Brands for Life journey to make our brands more human and more purposeful, while also empowering our marketers to pioneer the future.”
The Unilever Foundry offers three key opportunities for start-ups and entrepreneurs:
Over a period of three months, Unilever mentors will work individually with start-ups and entrepreneurs to craft their brand vision, marketing strategy and product roadmap. Luis Di Como, Senior Vice President, Media,explains, “Through mentoring, we hope to contribute to the entrepreneurial ecosystem and build businesses who might eventually become our global strategic partners. Mentoring also enables our marketers across the organisation to engage directly with start-ups and be inspired by new ideas and ways of working.”
Through The Unilever Foundry Projects, Unilever brands and functional teams will post briefs where they are looking for innovative technology solutions. Companies with proven technology are invited to pitch their solution and, if selected, pilot their technology with Unilever. The pitch-to-pilot process enables Unilever to embed experimentation at the heart of the marketing function, allowing new technologies to be piloted and new partnerships to be cultivated.
The Unilever Foundry will also give companies the option to apply for funding through Unilever Ventures, the venture capital arm of Unilever. One of the investment focus areas for Unilever Ventures is ‘digital marketing’; and it has already made several successful investments in this space, including Brain Juicer, Yummly and Brandtone.
“Through The Unilever Foundry, we hope to make more start-ups aware of this opportunity to receive investment from the world’s second largest advertiser. “In combining our business and marketing knowledge with the expertise available in venture capital through The Unilever Foundry, we are in a position to provide the best of both worlds,” explains Olivier Garel, Head of Unilever Ventures.
“In an always-on, data-driven and connected world, innovative and forward-thinking technology companies will play a vital role in helping our brands continue to engage meaningfully with people everywhere. The Unilever Foundry will open a direct line of communication with all these companies, so we can work together and mutually benefit,” concludes Keith Weed.
Notes to editor
The Foundry will work closely with , the Venture capital arm of Unilever. Unilever Ventures invests in early stage companies that could become strategically relevant to Unilever and can benefit from access to Unilever’s assets and capabilities. One of the key areas of investment for Unilever Ventures is Digital Marketing, encompassing marketing services business with a focus on mobile marketing, digital media and video, social media, content creation, eCommerce, shopper marketing and big data. Recent examples include .
Unilever consistently leads the way in digital technology engagement and today’s launch follows the successful GoGlobal initiative which, in March, connected seven Unilever billion-euro brands with seven innovative tech companies. Each received US$100,000 and the chance to pilot their technology with Unilever. Going back further, the company has a heritage of external collaboration with digital technology companies through accelerator programmes and investment from Unilever Ventures. The Unilever Foundry has taken the combined know-how from these to establish the quick-to-market solutions platform.