Unilever is embracing entrepreneurs and startups more than any other global organisation. This is because we recognise that startups are inventing the future faster than bigger brands can adapt and by partnering with them, Unilever can benefit from their agility, innovation and entrepreneurial creativity. This naturally opens up the potential for partnerships that will accelerate our brand expansion.
We’re putting entrepreneurs and startups at the heart of our innovation process, through Unilever Foundry; enabling startups to pitch, pilot and partner with our billion euro brands. In the last 10 months, we’ve launched pilots with over 60 different companies and we’re now rapidly scaling many of those partnerships globally.
By working with startups in this way, you quickly begin to recognise that there are certain characteristics that a lot of the most successful entrepreneurs share.
Creativity is the alchemy that true entrepreneurs bring to the world of business.
Creativity cannot exist alone though. At Unilever we talk a lot about “magic and logic”, and entrepreneurship is about striking a perfect balance between the two. An entrepreneur’s ability to utilise creativity to unlock the power of big data, and innovations in technology, is essential in today’s fast-changing world.
2. Not afraid to fail
Most entrepreneurs are risk takers with a natural instinct and ability to judge the levels of risk involved. Some risks taken will pay off but a lot of the time, especially during the early stages, there will be factors you come up against that make you believe your idea is not going to work.
That’s why it’s important to not be afraid to fail and that’s where the Foundry is interesting. It gives entrepreneurs a space to play and experiment in a supportive and safe environment.
3. Curiosity and Vision
A natural entrepreneur will have the inherent curiosity to spot opportunities that others do not and will have the vision to translate that into a viable enterprise.
Having the courage in your convictions and the self-belief to overcome the challenges and obstacles to bring your – often-disruptive - ideas to market.
Marketers in general do not welcome disruption, but the pace is such that it is “change or be changed.” Being bold is a critical attribute of those individuals who change our future.
5. Morning people
It may sound trivial, but there is a plethora of research to show that morning people are more successful. The reasons are simple. Morning people are less inclined to have procrastinating tendencies, will increase the amount of productive time in their day, and there are less distractions in the morning so they’re likely to be able to focus and get more done.
Unilever Foundry has partnered with Lions Innovation at the 62nd annual Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, to help bring together the worlds of data, technology and ideas. Unilever, as one of the world’s larger advertisers, is using the opportunity to encourage marketers to engage with startups by leading by example.
The partnership sees the launch of “Foundry 50 at Cannes” – a search for the world’s top 50 marketing technology startups that are innovating to help brands better connect, engage and relate with people. If you’re a burgeoning entrepreneur, they want to hear from you.
At the event, to be held 25 – 26 June, the 50 chosen startups from around the world will have the unique opportunity to speed-date with industry leaders, pitch on the Unilever demo platform and introductions to organisations attending Cannes Lions Innovation.
To be chosen for the Global Top 50, startups need to meet the following criteria:
1. Be innovative and truly disruptive, clearly differentiated from competitors already in the market
2. Be relevant and interesting to the Brand & Marketing industry
3. Incorporation within the last 5 years
4. Raised less than $10 million in equity funding.
How to enter your business into Foundry 50 at Cannes:
Startups can apply here - Entries will close at 23:59 GMT, 30 April 2015. The final Foundry 50 will be revealed on Monday 25 May 2015.