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Unilever launches program to help entrepreneurs go from Start-up to Scaleup with the Unilever Foundry

ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, NJ - Unilever announced today that the Unilever Foundry will launch in North America on November 17, 2015. The Unilever Foundry is the company’s global platform to connect Unilever brands with innovative start-ups seeking to partner with the world’s second largest advertiser. Unilever Foundry enables the company’s global brands to experiment with and pilot new technologies more efficiently and effectively. It also provides start-ups and entrepreneurs the opportunity to develop and work on global projects, access mentoring from marketing professionals, and tap into a new source of funding through Unilever Ventures.

Kees Kruythoff, Unilever North America President, explains, “Pioneering new approaches to business has been core to Unilever since our company was founded more than 130 years ago. In an always-on, data-driven and connected world--innovative and forward-thinking technology companies will play a vital role in helping our brands continue to engage meaningfully with people everywhere. Through Unilever Foundry, we’re enabling our brands and functions to continue to lead the industry through engaging with the pioneers of today: start-ups.”

With Unilever Foundry, the start-up community can see the challenges Unilever faces and apply to pitch solutions to senior business leaders. Unilever Foundry, which has already launched in the United Kingdom, Singapore and India with products such as Axe, Magnum and Knorr, dramatically simplifies the way in which entrepreneurs engage with Unilever and offers an exciting opportunity for the best and brightest to pilot their technology.

The Unilever Foundry offers four key opportunities for start-ups and entrepreneurs:

1. Marketing Mentors

Over a period of three months, Unilever mentors work individually with start-ups and entrepreneurs to craft their brand vision, marketing strategy and product roadmap. Aline Santos, Senior Vice President, Marketing, explains, “Through the mentoring program, we hope to contribute to the entrepreneurial ecosystem and build businesses that may eventually become global strategic partners. Mentoring also enables our marketers across the organization to engage directly with start-ups and be inspired by new ideas and ways of working.”

2. Challenges

Through the platform, Unilever brands and functional teams post briefs looking for innovative technology solutions. Companies with proven technology are invited to pitch their solution and, if selected, pilot their technology with Unilever. The pitch-pilot-partner process enables Unilever to embed experimentation at the heart of the marketing function. Since starting the Foundry in the United Kingdom 18 months ago, Unilever has already launched 75 pilots with different start-ups around the world. On November 17th, Unilever North America brands will also launch challenges to start-ups from across the region.

3. Investment

Unilever Foundry also gives companies the option to apply for funding through Unilever Ventures, the venture capital arm of Unilever. One of the investment focus areas for Unilever Ventures is ‘digital marketing’; and it has already made several successful investments in this space, including Olapic, Yummly and Brandtone. “Through Unilever Foundry, we hope to make more start-ups aware of this opportunity to receive investment from the world’s second largest advertiser. In combining our business and marketing knowledge with the expertise available in venture capital through Unilever Foundry, we are in a position to provide the best of both worlds,” explains Olivier Garel, Head of Unilever Ventures.

4. Be part of the launch event

The Unilever Foundry launch in North America will be celebrated with an event where more than 150 Unilever Marketers and leaders from the NA start-up community will come together to network, see pitches from leading start-ups, and explore opportunities for collaboration. Start-ups who would like to attend the event as a guest are invited to apply here: https://foundry.unilever.com/events

“Technology companies continue to lead and shape the future of marketing and Unilever has been a pioneer in establishing global partnerships with the largest digital players. However, as the speed of innovation increases and disruptions seemingly occur overnight, Unilever understands the importance of recognizing these trends and connecting with the start-up ecosystem as well,” said Babs Rangaiah, Unilever Vice President of Global Media Innovation and Ventures.

Briefs detailing requirements and the innovative technology solutions that can help will be posted on https://foundry.unilever.com.

For more information, please contact:

Jaime Stein, Unilever U.S. Media Relations: Mediarelations.USA@Unilever.com / 201-894-7760

Laura Misselbrook, Unilever Media Relations: Laura.Misselbrook@unilever.com

About Unilever

Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Food, Home and Personal Care products with sales in over 190 countries and reaching 2 billion consumers a day. It has 172,000 employees and generated sales of €48.4 billion in 2014. Over half (57%) of the company’s footprint is in developing and emerging markets. Unilever has more than 400 brands found in homes around the world, including Persil, Dove, Knorr, Domestos, Hellmann’s, Lipton, Wall’s, PG Tips, Ben & Jerry’s, Marmite, Magnum and Lynx.

Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) commits to:

  • Decoupling growth from environmental impact.
  • Helping more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being.
  • Enhancing the livelihoods of millions of people by 2020.

Unilever was ranked number one in its sector in the 2014 Dow Jones Sustainability Index. In the FTSE4Good Index, it achieved the highest environmental score of 5. It led the list of Global Corporate Sustainability Leaders in the 2014 GlobeScan/SustainAbility annual survey for the fourth year running, and in 2015 was ranked the most sustainable food and beverage company in Oxfam’s Behind the Brands Scorecard.

Unilever has been named in LinkedIn’s Top 3 most sought-after employers across all sectors.

For more information about Unilever and its brands, please visit www.unilever.com. For more information on the USLP: www.unilever.com/sustainable-living/

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