L'Oreal USA Chief Marketing Officer Marc Speichert has sought to
create a "digitally focused company." But in a meeting last year,
executives realized "there's definitely a different speed between
what's moving from the venture community vs. coming to us through
our agencies," said Rachel Weiss, VP-digital strategy and
interactive marketing at L'Oreal.
"A lot of amazing startups out there aren't ready yet to work
with your agency but are looking for a corporate partner to help
advise them and expand," she said.
The first set of NEXT Generation winners, whose companies are
"very very likely" to win work at least on pilot projects for
L'Oreal, according to Mr. Speichert, include:
Doreen Bloch, founder and CEO of Poshly.com,
which provides customized samples based on an algorithm to match
beauty samples with the right consumers
Bettina Hein, founder and CEO of Pixibility, a
video-marketing company that helps get the right videos in front of
the right audiences
Sarah McIlroy, founder and CEO of
FashionPlaytes.com, which encourages tween girls to create, share
and wear original fashions by providing millions of design
Kathryn Minshew, founder of The Daily Muse, an
online community for professional women, and CompanyMuse.com, a
career and job-search site
Vivian Rosenthal, founder and CEO of GoldRun, a
mobile platform with a GPS-enabled virtual camera that lets users
share branded augmented-reality photos and accompanying messages on
social networks, earning rewards and discounts from marketers.
Not all the women have done business with L'Oreal yet, but the
award lets the company "engage them in a much deeper conversation
and creates the connection point," Mr. Speichert said. "We're also
making sure we're providing our own talent to them so they can
fine-tune their plans."
The contest also has helped L'Oreal forge better ties with the
venture-capital community, Ms. Weiss said, and helps address the
fact that fewer than 1% of venture-capital dollars now go to
"Now we have influence and credibility with the investment
community who are now calling us first about how we can work
together," she said. "A lot of VCs have called us looking at women
with startups asking 'Is this something L'Oreal would use?'"
L'Oreal, whose consumer base is primarily female, is looking to
create digital experiences "by women for women," Mr. Speichert
Judges for the contest, besides L'Oreal executives, included
venture-capital executives and members of L'Oreal's Women in
Digital advisory board, including Ms. Everson and Ms. Huffington
along with Joanne Bradford, chief revenue and marketing officer of
Demand Media; Shaherose Charania, co-founder and CEO of Women 2.0;
Jalak Jobanputra, managing director of RTP Ventures; Karin Klein,
who handles business development, acquisitions and strategy at
Bloomberg; Katie Rae, managing director of digital-business
accelerator TechStars Boston; Rudina Seseri, partners at Fairhaven
Capital; and Shelly Zalis, CEO of Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange.
L'Oreal received more than 2,200 nominations for the awards, Mr.
Speichert said, largely through publicity and crowdsourcing.