How P&G Ventures seeks business ideas from female STEM students

P&G Ventures is betting that the next billion dollar business idea will come from a student.

P&G Ventures is a startup accelerator within P&G that has helped develop beauty device brands like Opte, as well as menopause brand Kindra. As the consumer packaged goods industry reaches new heights almost every day, both from a brand launch and sales increase standpoint, companies must find new ways to open up their product pipeline. ideas. Namely, P&G Ventures has partnered with Her Campus Media to open up the channel to potential companies and include more female founders and female-led brands. Her Campus Media consists of three publications, including Her Campus, Spoon University and College Fashionista, as well as the college influencer platform InfluenceHer Collective.

Together, Her Campus Media and P&G Ventures created Her Campus Labs. The partnership is an initiative to increase opportunities for women entrepreneurs and inventors to connect them with funding opportunities, create networking opportunities and expose them to role models. Called Next in STEM challenge, the project offers women with business and brand ideas the chance to pitch directly to the P&G Ventures team.

” A big part of [P&G Ventures’] voyage recognized that we didn’t necessarily get the diversity we wanted when we brought in startups to solve particular problems. [CPG] problems,” said Betsey Bluestone, senior director at P&G Ventures. “We know that an equal world is better for everyone. But we also know that we need diverse founders working in the spaces we care about, because it’s just good for business.

Applications for the Next in STEM challenge opened on March 28. P&G Ventures seeks business ideas from women studying science, technology, engineering or math. In the United States in 2018, women earned 85% of bachelor’s degrees in health-related fields, but only 22% of those in engineering and 19% in computer science, according to a PEW study. Bluestone said focus areas include, but are not limited to, non-toxic home care, menopause and aging, skin care for targeted issues like eczema, and durability. The Next in STEM Challenge runs between April and May, although Her Campus Media and P&G Ventures plan to extend the program through the fall.

“Research shows that by the time students reach college, women are significantly underrepresented in STEM fields. Additionally, many women who start out in STEM fields, unfortunately, eventually lose interest or quit. completely STEM due to a lack of support, role models or opportunities for upward mobility in the field,” said Windsor Hanger Western, co-founder of Her Campus Media. “Our goal with the Next in STEM Challenge is to change that narrative and provide a platform that promotes and elevates female innovation in STEM to the highest levels of an organization like P&G.”

This is not the first method used by P&G Ventures to provide development opportunities through its brands. In 2019, P&G Ventures also partnered with venture capital firm M13 to develop businesses that could be brought into P&G once they reached an appropriate size. Bluestone said P&G Ventures has a long-standing relationship with universities when it comes to academic research, but is looking for ways to reach more into the student body for ideas.

His Campus Labs has hired four people to serve as scouts at four universities: the University of Florida, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Southern California and Boston University. Western said these universities were chosen by Her Campus Media and P&G Ventures based on the strength of Scout applications and their knowledge of the entrepreneurial ecosystems at their respective universities. According to the Her Campus 2020 Media Kit, there are over 390 college chapters for Her Campus in 46 U.S. states. Scouts will recruit candidates who will apply to pitch business ideas to the P&G Ventures team. Western said it “hopes” to increase the number of Scouts and colleges represented in the future.

P&G Ventures will review applications and select the number of ideas that interest the team. He will then invite those people to present their idea more formally to the team, Bluestone said. Successful submissions may receive support in the form of funding and operational advice from P&G Ventures. Bluestone expects at least “dozens” of applications.

Bluestone said that while P&G Ventures is not an investment arm, what the accelerator is doing with Her Campus is akin to impact investing, which brings positive incremental change using investment dollars. to support causes such as social justice, equality or sustainability.

“The next billion dollar brands at P&G will come from bringing together the best of a startup with the best of [our] big business,” she said. “This effort will prove to be an essential strategy for P&G over time.”

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