Unilever has developed a platform, named The Unilever Foundry, to provide innovative startups entry into Unilever.
The consumer goods firm hopes that this initiative will allow startups to work on projects globally through technologies piloted across Unilever’s brands.
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The scheme also promises mentoring from Unilever’s marketing professionals for a period of three months, who will individually coach the startups on marketing strategy and brand vision.
Unilever will use the initiative to promote the opportunity to apply for funding through Unilever Ventures. This focus on investment, through the Unilever Ventures scheme, has provided opportunities to companies within the space, including Brain Juicer, Yummly and Brandtone.
Luis Di Como, the company's senior vice-president of 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.”
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Unilever will also post briefs from its individual brands requiring a technology solution. Where companies have a solution that will fit the project, relationships can be developed between those companies and Unilever’s brands to experiment with new solutions. This process has been dubbed “pitch-to-pilot”.
Keith Weed, Unilever chief Marketing and communications officer, said: “Although we have been working with startups for years, we now want to scale up our efforts and, ultimately, embed this as a way of working throughout our organisation.”