Ulta Magnificence joins the VC world with the launch of Prisma Ventures

On Wednesday, Ulta Magnificence launched Prisma Ventures, a $ 20 million VC fund targeted on digital innovation in magnificence. First introduced at Ultima Magnificence’s Analyst Day final October, Prisma Ventures focuses on investing in early-stage magnificence tech startups in 4 key areas. These embody “personalised and data-driven know-how”, “AR, VR and the metaverse”, “personalised technology-based magnificence merchandise and in-store providers” and “social commerce”.

“The purpose is to outline this subsequent chapter of what the way forward for magnificence will probably be [looks like], and to form and be a part of this disruption, ”stated Agustina Sartori, chief government of Prisma Ventures at Ulta Magnificence. Founder and CEO of AR Magnificence-Tech GlamST firm, Sartori joined Ulta Magnificence as director of innovation in 2018, when the wonder retailer acquired his firm.

About 80% of Ulta Magnificence’s VC investments will go to the 4 declared focus areas, Sartori stated. The remaining 20% ​​will probably be used to “take into consideration what can actually be disruptive” within the magnificence trade or in retail and commerce extra usually. The Seed and Collection A rounds would be the “candy spot” funding phases for the brand new fund, Sartori stated.

Since October 2021, the Prisma fund has already been used to put money into the startups Revea, LUUM, Haut.AI and ReStyle. Beforehand, Ulta Magnificence invested in Adeptmind, Mink and Iterate.ai.

Along with capital assist, Ulta Magnificence goals to kind strategic partnerships with the startups through which it invests. Along with its funding, Ulta Magnificence has given Iterate.ai “the chance to check, study, implement and scale our low-code AI innovation platform,” stated Jon Nordmark, co-founder and CEO of the startup.

Prama Bhatt, Ulta Magnificence’s chief digital officer, stated: “We got down to construct lasting relationships with startups, welcoming them into our ecosystem, co-creating and experimenting in ways in which draw on one another’s expertise and in the end leverage our assets. to think about – and reimagine – what the prospects are for retail and sweetness “.

Based on Sartori, manufacturers can profit from the “collaborative strategic partnership”, in addition to “entry to the market, to our innovation group, to client insights, to market exams”. Startups may have entry to check their instruments with Ulta Magnificence’s buyer base, together with its 37.7 million loyalty program members.

Ulta Magnificence doesn’t assure that it’ll use the know-how of all the businesses it invests in, however enlists companions on a case-by-case foundation, Sartori stated. Haut.AI, for instance, introduced a strategic partnership with Ulta Magnificence in March this yr. The startup has developed inclusive pores and skin scanning know-how at present accessible as a part of the pores and skin evaluation software on the Ulta Magnificence app, whereas Ulta Magnificence is contributing insights into product preferences to the Haut.AI suggestion system.

“Even earlier than beginning the fund, we have been already doing it as a digital innovation, however extra simply from a partnership viewpoint,” stated Sartori. “And now, with the fund, we’re giving the chance, sure, of a strategic partnership and in addition of economic assist. In a method, [we’re] working collectively extra easily as a a lot nearer companion than earlier than.

The acquisitions have been additionally a part of Ulta Magnificence’s know-how funding technique. In the identical month that Ulta Magnificence acquired GlamST in 2018, it additionally acquired AI tech startup QM Scientific, which contributes to the advice algorithm within the Ulta Magnificence app. Though acquisitions usually are not the principle focus, Sartori stated, “In fact, sooner or later, it may occur that Ulta Magnificence acquires one other know-how firm.”

Ulta Magnificence joins a pattern of main magnificence firms diving deeper into enterprise capital and know-how acquisitions. L’Oréal group acquired Modiface in 2018, and its enterprise capital agency Daring invested in a lot of startups within the magnificence trade, together with the Japan-based customized magnificence platform Sparty in Could of this yr.

“Many modifications are happening within the trade and plenty of are experimental,” Sartori stated. “It is about being forward. It is not about ready for an outage to occur, however actually being a part of the outage that is occurring. “

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