New Accelerator Program SV Beautytech Acceleration Starts With Nine Participating Companies
SV Beautytech Acceleration, the first beauty accelerator program not affiliated with a large retailer or brand, is underway with nine participating companies merging beauty and technology.
Started Sunday in San Mateo, Calif., the three-week program is a partnership between entrepreneurship school Draper University and IgniteXL, a global accelerator and seed fund. Members of its first class are skin diagnosis specialist Baybiotech, skincare line ELSI Skin Health, DNA-driven skincare customizer SkinGenie, topical collagen authority Fifteen Degrees, on-demand beauty marketplace La Mienne, hair extension e-tailer Madame Indigo, AI-fueled fashion searcher YesPlz, J-Beauty e-commerce platform Cosme Hunt and BeautyVise, which links brands to influencers and consumers.
“We had applications coming in from a number of different countries. There was a lot of excitement because they’d never seen anything like it. Sephora and L’Oréal have accelerators, but ours is unique because it’s independent,” says Claire Chang, co-founder and managing director of IgniteXL, and founder and managing director of SV Beautytech Acceleration. “Most of these companies would apply to general acceleration programs not specific to beauty. They were pleasantly surprised to hear there’s a program dedicated to beauty tech.”
Companies were eligible for SV Beautytech Acceleration if they had working prototypes. Draper University and IgniteXL obtain 1% to 3% equity in the startups involved. Among the speakers and expert mentors offering guidance to entrepreneurs in the program are Michelle Phan, the influencer and co-founder of Ipsy, Jesse Draper, founder of Halogen Ventures, Odile Roujol, former CEO of Lancôme, Jack Jia, CEO of Musely, Jinah Oh, co-founder of Wayskin, Stacy Brown-Philpot, CEO of TaskRabbit, and Tanya Soman, venture partner at 500 Startups.
“We had applications coming in from a number of different countries. There was a lot of excitement because they’d never seen anything like it. Sephora and L’Oréal have accelerators, but ours is unique because it’s independent.”
“Once the companies have working prototypes, it’s about figuring out their go-to market strategy and core customers. Beauty is about so much more than just the product. It’s about what stands out in the consumers’ mind,” says Chang. “There’s a lot founders have to think through to build their businesses. Our job is to pack in all the essential business acumen they’ll need so they can have a business strategy built out before they leave the program.”
SV Beautytech Acceleration’s program begins each day with a business session concentrating on various topics, including navigating the digital landscape and shoring up data security, and ends with unscheduled time for entrepreneurs to network and tackle tasks required to push their companies to the next level. It will conclude with a demo day on July 10.
Since 2000, Chang has forged relationships with Korean entrepreneurs, and Ignite XL came to life in 2014 to help sharpen their ideas to suit the American market. Seeking to grow the accelerator, she identified beauty tech as a segment on the rise that could be attractive to investors.
“Once the companies have working prototypes, it’s about figuring out their go-to market strategy and core customers. Beauty is about so much more than just the product. It’s about what stands out in the consumers’ mind. There’s a lot founders have to think through to build their businesses.”
“We are building an investment thesis around it, so, when we are ready to go and raise funds next year, we will show that this is our focus, and we have a healthy pipeline sourcing beauty tech companies,” says Chang. “I’ve been amazed at the amount of support. I think it’s a sign that [this segment of the] industry is at an early stage, and people are recognizing there’s something exciting happening. No one can sense exactly what, but everyone wants to be a part of it.”
Beauty accelerator programs have proliferated in the beauty and retail industries with the likes of Sally Beauty, Target, L’Oréal and Sephora launching accelerator initiatives to cultivate indie brands and prepare them to scale. Chang views SV Beautytech Acceleration’s detachment from beauty and retail conglomerates as an asset to its program. She’s considering putting on a second round of the program in the winter and could take it to Asia.
“We hope to be positioned as the top global accelerator in beauty tech,” says Chang. “We want to be able to work with the big brands, but what we don’t want to do is be married to one. Big brands want to connect with startups and startups are interested in working with big brands, but there’s often a disconnect between the two because of the bureaucracy at big brands. If we could be the connector that initiates conversations between the two, that would be the ideal scenario.”