Late last month, European multinational chemical company BASF announced the second year of its partnership with North American non-profit organization StitchCrew to accept applications for their Inclusive Beauty Accelerator Program. The program, which is open for submissions through end of day on April 16, 2023, will award selected participants with a non-dilutive $10,000 stipend as well as coaching and networking opportunities to support beauty-based businesses in their expansion and growth plans.
To learn more about the program application process, potential benefits to selection, and previous success stories from last year’s inaugural cohort, CosmeticsDesign spoke with Andrew Miller, Marketing Manager – Hair, Body, and Oral Care from BASF North America as well as Erika Lucas, Co-Founder of StitchCrew for their insights.
About the Inclusive Beauty Accelerator Program
The six-week program’s objective is “to bring together six founders from across the United States for a training curriculum, to scale their businesses and, throughout this program they have access to BASF experts in our network,” said Miller. Further, he added, the Inclusive Beauty Accelerator Program’s mission is specifically catered to diverse beauty brands to “provide a space for entrepreneurs to bring some of their innovation that will cater to inclusive skin and hair types, utilizing specific ingredients that are backed by significant data and science.”
In addition to the monetary grant, this opportunity offers selected participants the chance to learn how to grow their brand directly from the experience of Beauty and Personal Care Executives. At the program’s conclusion, each participant can then visit the BASF Lab in Tarrytown, NY for a comprehensive product review, and will be introduced to CPG investors as well as the BASF extended industry network to potentially further brand expansion efforts.
Last year’s success stories
Last year’s inaugural cohort was very successful, and participants’ accomplishments were measured “based on company outcomes, like did they increase revenue, add capacity, improve go to market / growth strategies, and/or secure funding while in the program and through our networks,” Miller explained. The previous group of participants “saw an increase in revenue and secured additional distribution channels post program with some even doubling annual revenue forecasts,” he added.
As an example of last year’s success, some founders secured growth capital through BASF and StitchCrew’s networks, like Ezinne, Founder of SKNMUSE who secured an investment from a 16 Talentx Opportunity Fund, and Arielle Brown, Founder of Bea's Bayou, who secured more than $100,000 in non-dilutive grants while in the program.
“Building a company is never easy,” said Lucas, “particularly in times of economic uncertainty. Founders who thrive in the long run, are always looking for ways to evolve, improve products, connect with customers, and add value, and most importantly, they are willing to ask and receive help.” Therein lies the value of the Inclusive Beauty Accelerator Program, whose provided access to “a vetted group of success-oriented mentors, that include industry experts, CPG investors, and founders who can be the difference between incremental growth and the kind of exponential growth that changes the entire look of what is truly possible,” she further shared.
For those considering applying
When considering applications, the program is searching for “capital efficient and self-aware founders who have a personal connection with the market they are trying to serve and are deeply committed to creating true value for their customers and growing their company,” and the program is “best suited for founders who want to benefit from having a vetted group of mentors and peers to learn with and from each other.”
To qualify, potential founder applicants must be 18 years of age or older, reside in the US, and currently have a physical product available for retail sales. Potential company applicants can qualify if the meet the criteria of currently having a physical product available to sell, have achieved lifetime revenue of $5,000 – $500,000, have the ambition to sell products in mass retail, have an LLC, C-Corp, B-Corp, S-Corp or other registered entity, and are not a current vendor at BASF.
For those unsure about whether they should apply, advised Lucas, “if in doubt, shoot your shot. When it comes to taking the risk of applying, we always encourage everyone to apply.”
Applications are reviewed daily, and applicants will be informed of final decisions no later than April 28, 2023. Further, if an applicant is not selected, StitchCrew will create an opportunity for get feedback from the selection process.