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The Estée Lauder Companies’ New Incubation Ventures Seeks the Next Generation of Beauty Talent in India

New Incubation Ventures expands the scope and scale of the second edition of the Beauty & You India Awards programme to celebrate the significant contributions of the beauty ecosystem and to continue its mission to discover, spotlight and propel the next generation of Indian beauty.
Two women with dark braided hair in profile look into the distance, the woman on the left placing her chin on the other's shoulder.
ELC's Beauty & You awards look to champion next generation talent in the Indian beauty market. (Dolly Devi)
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With the world’s largest population, which increasingly includes young, digitally savvy consumers, India is an appealing market for beauty brands.

As a result of that economic opportunity, major international brands and cultural figures are spotlighting the region, from Christian Dior’s recent celebration of its decades-long collaboration with the Chanakya School of Craft, staging its annual resort show under the Gateway of India in Mumbai, to the designer Gaurav Gupta becoming a red carpet highlight at Cannes Film Festival last year, dressing musician Cardi B.

Shana Randhava, Global Head of Venture Investments and Incubation at ELC sits in profile.
Shana Randhava, Global Head of Venture Investments and Incubation at The Estée Lauder Companies. (Indigital)

Indian brands are also expanding their retail footprints globally, such as luxury label Sabyasachi — a leading light in India’s booming bridal market, worn by actor Priyanka Chopra and musician Nick Jonas at their wedding in Jodhpur — opening its first retail store in the United States in 2022, while costume designer Manish Malhotra is set to open a store in Dubai in September 2023.

Fuelled by a growing middle class, a culture of Ayurvedic medicine and highly trained technical and scientific talent pools, India’s beauty and personal care market is expected to grow from $16.5 billion in 2023 to $18.4 billion by 2026, according to Euromonitor International — an increase of 11.5 percent and “an exciting opportunity for the global beauty ecosystem,” says Shana Randhava, The Estée Lauder Companies (ELC)’s senior vice president of New Incubation Ventures (NIV).

“In India, we recognise there is enormous entrepreneurial spirit and creativity poised to be unlocked in terms of global prestige beauty opportunities. We see the Beauty & You platform as a catalyst to help propel the next generation of Indian prestige beauty brands,” she continues.

India’s beauty and personal care market is expected to grow from $16.5 billion in 2023 to $18.4 billion by 2026, according to Euromonitor International.

The Beauty & You Awards consists of four prizes, including two newly launched for 2023; Imagine, focused on pre-launch concepts; Grow, for in-market concepts; Breakthrough, for innovation in active ingredients; and Create, celebrating the next generation of creative talent such as photographers and filmmakers, submitting work around the theme of “Experiential Beauty in India”. Applications are open to both Indian and international companies that are seeking to serve the Indian market and Indian consumer. Applications must be submitted on or before August 19, 11:59 IST. The 2022 debut of the programme garnered over 300 entries across 50 Indian cities.

“Building on the success of last year’s programme, we have expanded the scope and scale of the impact we aim to deliver. Beauty & You looks to create a disruptive ecosystem for the most innovative founders and creators, breakthrough brands and new-age storytellers and experiences, and transformational thought-leadership and industry experts,” says Randhava. This year, NIV is teaming up again with Indian e-commerce beauty player, Nykaa. Winners will be announced during an evening programme that features an immersive exhibit entitled, “1000 Years Past, 100 Years Future: The Power of Indian Beauty.”

A model with glitter on their face stands before a mottled red background.
In India, entrepreneurial spirit and creativity is poised to be unlocked in the beauty market. (Dolly Devi)

A defining aspect of the programme is that it offers grants. Winners receive grants, resources and mentorship without ELC NIV taking an equity stake in their business. “This programme is meant to go beyond capital — it reflects ELC and Nykaa’s joint conviction to give back, support creative and innovative Indian talent, and our shared ambition to create positive long-term value creation to the entire beauty ecosystem,” says Randhava.

“India is at the forefront of this changing environment — a deeply rooted heritage of beauty and wellness is being pushed forward with modern thinking, anchoring exciting new brands and companies. We are excited to see the future of beauty through the lens of India,” said William P. Lauder, executive chairman of ELC.

A number of Indian beauty industry luminaries will be present at the event and acting as judges in the competition, including actors Katrina Kaif and Bhumi Pednekar, designers such as Masaba Gupta, Gaurav Gupta and Sanjay Garg, entrepreneurs like Deepica Mutyala and Diipa Büller-Khosla, and many others. The Business of Fashion is partnering with the event to put on a series of thought-leadership panels. BoF founder and editor-in-chief Imran Amed will host the event which will include talks with some of the biggest names in the Indian and international beauty markets on what it takes to launch a business and build it into a success in the flourishing Indian beauty market.

Below, ELC’s Shana Randhava shares insight into what to expect.

What can attendees expect at the Beauty & You event in November?

We wanted to create an experiential moment for beauty and celebrate the global impact of Indian beauty brands. On November 1, we will introduce our exhibit, “1000 Years Past, 100 Years Future: The Power of Indian Beauty.” Working with a talented team of experts and creatives, we will showcase the future of beauty through the lens of ritual and science, individual and community, yesterday and tomorrow.

On November 2, we are teaming up with BoF to host a series of talks with some of the biggest names and luminaries in the Indian beauty scene. Founders, investors and experts will share what it takes to build a successful new beauty business, the multi-billion dollar market opportunity in India, and how to win.

The most successful new founders will challenge today’s standards to push the frontiers of beauty through innovative ideas and concepts that are disruptive, solve real consumer or community problems.

Lastly, we will cap off the evening with the announcement of the 2023 winners alongside our esteemed judges, including Katrina Kaif, Bhumi Pednekar, Gaurav Gupta, Masaba Gupta, Sanjay Garg, Deepica Mutyala, Diipa Buller Khosla, Anaita Shroff Adajania, and many others.

What makes applicants stand out and what do you look for in entrepreneurial talent?

Our founder, Mrs. Estée Lauder, was a visionary businesswoman who pushed the boundaries of possibility as a female entrepreneur in the 1940s to build a global beauty powerhouse. Her challenger spirit continues to inspire us today.

The most successful new founders will challenge today’s standards to push the frontiers of beauty through innovative ideas and concepts that are disruptive, solve real consumer or community problems, and create a new market opportunity.

The core competitive edge can either be a breakthrough product, technology or ingredient; access incremental consumer segments across demographics, psychographics and geographies; or disruptive engagement models in emerging channels, platforms and experiences.

What is the purpose behind The Estée Lauder Companies’ New Incubation Ventures?

New Incubation Ventures (NIV) is The Estée Lauder Companies’ early stage investing and venture incubation arm, created in 2021 to identify and catalyse the next generation of prestige beauty brands globally. NIV’s mission is to shape the future of ELC’s strategy into emerging growth areas across new categories, regions, consumer segments, platforms and business models.

NIV partners with forward-thinking founders and entrepreneurs to create, fund and support the best emerging beauty brands and new business models to shape the future of beauty and build an actionable pipeline of brands and new engines of growth for the ELC portfolio. What sets NIV apart is our approach centred around long-term growth and a sharp focus on building brands with ownable value propositions, breakthrough innovation, solid brand fundamentals and, most importantly, longevity.

To date, ELC has invested in breakthrough brands led by exceptional founders — companies like Dr.Jart+ and DECIEM, both of which were acquired by ELC, as well as a number of minority investments in brands, which include Forest Essentials, Haeckels, Vyrao and Faculty. By directly investing in and connecting brands within its ecosystem, ELC NIV aims to inspire and accelerate brand ideation — bridging the gap between concepts, vision and real-world viability.

Four models lean pose, leaning on each other's shoulders, before a blue background.
Winners of the Beauty & You awards receive grants, resources and mentorship to help grow their businesses. (Dolly Devi )

How does New Incubation Ventures reflect the evolution of ELC’s strategy?

As a brand-led company, ELC’s diversified brand portfolio is a crucial part of our multiple engines of growth strategy. NIV builds on ELC’s brand-building legacy and extends our inorganic strategy to play even earlier on in the life cycle of brands, adding another lever to help deliver the company’s growth objectives, identify whitespaces, anticipate disruption and build a portfolio of future growth options as the global house of prestige beauty.

What do you believe will define success in the beauty industry in the near and medium terms?

The future of beauty rests with a generation of creative entrepreneurs who see and experience it differently. My ambition is that we inspire and empower a new generation of forward-thinking founders, creators and innovators — each with big ideas — to help them build innovative products, breakthrough brands, new-age business models and transformational experiences. We aim to build businesses and ideas that deliver continuous disruption, that stand out and move the world forward.

This is a sponsored feature paid for by Estée Lauder New Incubation Ventures as part of a BoF partnership.

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