Sephora Tech Incubator To Back Woman-Founded Beauty Startups

The move continues the beauty chain’s long-standing goal of funding digital initiatives — and it comes with the bonus of acquiring some potential future partners.

Cosmetics emporium Sephora has launched Sephora Accelerate, a program designed to support beauty startups founded by women in a bid to foster innovation and — potentially — build future business partnerships.

Sephora Accelerate will give 10 female-led startups the opportunity to join a year-long program that helps them develop their businesses. Sephora also states that program members will receive “access to an exclusive mentorship program comprised of Sephora’s network of beauty industry leaders,” and have the opportunity to receive funding from Sephora. Selected members will receive $2,500 in seed money from the get-go, Fashionista reports.

The initiative follows the 2015 launch of Sephora’s Innovation Lab, billed as a “digital think tank” of sorts and designed to encompass both a physical space in San Francisco as well as a general program to create “digital leaders” within the company.

In taking a step normally reserved for agencies and ad tech companies, Sephora is advancing its capability to create and align itself with digital platforms that not only make customers think of Sephora, but actually inspire them to make purchases across devices and in stores.

Sephora Accelerate is a different animal, as it will foster new retail-focused marketing models in external startup companies. It is also part of Sephora’s overarching goal of supporting digital initiatives — particularly those that might help the store expand its own offerings in the future.

Who knows? One of these female-led businesses might develop a unique product to be sold in Sephora stores — or even become an entity that helps the chain redesign its in-app augmented reality beauty experience.

As Sephora’s Bridget Dolan told GeoMarketing last March, “[We want] to be able to move fast and optimize our shopping experience for the shifts in consumer behavior — and help define what the future of shopping will look like over the next five and ten years.”

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Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.