Case Studies

Ren Skincare

Acquired by Unilever Ventures in April 2015 as part of its strategy to invest in and scale high potential, innovative Personal Care brands.

Ren Skincare

Acquired by Unilever Ventures in April 2015 as part of its strategy to invest in and scale high potential, innovative Personal Care brands.

Summary

Created in 2000 by Antony Buck and Robert Calcraft, REN pioneered a new type of high-performance skincare. Its combination of effectiveness, naturalness and pleasurable experience – articulated as ‘performance; purity; pleasure’ – gives it a distinctive market position that has global relevance. The multi-award winning brand is today sold in 50 countries – predominantly through perfumeries, department stores and pharmacies. Its top four markets are currently the UK, Scandinavia, US and France, and its portfolio is focused on facial care and body care.

Key Highlights

  • Acquired by Unilever Ventures in April 2015 with the objective of realising the brand’s global potential
  • In the first year, UV directly oversaw the running of the company to better understand the needs of the business and to manage a smooth transition process with the founders
  • Strengthened leadership team with key hires including CEO, CFO/COO, Head of Supply Chain and Head of International Sales
  • Provided access to market data and expertise in trends and consumer insight
  • Established a Unilever support framework for Legal and Regulatory issues
  • Provided access to Unilever digital marketing businesses and capabilities
  • In Feb 2016, selected by London Stock Exchange to feature in their report on the 1000 Most Inspiring Companies in Britain

renskincare.com

"it’s time for the brand to go to the next level. Unilever is a great company with great principles; it has a profound understanding of brands and global reach; it makes the perfect partner to help REN fulfil its future potential worldwide."Antony Buck
REN co-founder

Ren Skincare

Percolate

We invested in Percolate in 2013 alongside best-in-class investors with deep expertise in the enterprise SaaS space to help corporations create effective, efficient, and consistent marketing.

Percolate

We invested in Percolate in 2013 alongside best-in-class investors with deep expertise in the enterprise SaaS space to help corporations create effective, efficient, and consistent marketing.

Summary

Percolate has become The System of Record for Marketing® trusted by an ever increasing number of the world’s best brands, providing a marketing workflow solution able to govern the entire marketing process with a core focus around helping brands to plan, create and execute consistently on-brand content, cost effectively and on a global scale.

As a digital partner to the Unilever group, Percolate has helped build and scale a world-class brand Social publishing capability that supports brand growth (equity and penetration), better governance over the Social marketing process, Social integrations with other core Unilever systems and more effective and efficient Social marketing.

Key Highlights

  • Founded in 2011 to help brands adapt and succeed in a global economy where marketing has been transformed by mobile, social and software.
  • Now trusted by more than 800 of the world’s best brands, such as Mastercard, GE, Timberland, LOEWS
  • Over 300 employees in 5 locations internationally
  • Closed a $40m series C round in 2015 and a $24m series B in 2014. Backers include Lightspeed Venture Partners, Sequoia Capital, GGV Capital, First Round Capital and Lerer Hippeau Ventures.

percolate.com

"As one of the largest marketing technology organizations in the world, it has been amazing to work with Unilever building a multi-year and increasingly strategic and broad relationship. Unilever Ventures has been instrumental in helping share our vision with the key stakeholders in Unilever."James Gross,
President & Co-founder

Percolate

Brainjuicer

We invested in BrainJuicer when they had only one founder employee. Our partnership helped the company scale to over 140 employees operating in 11 countries before we exited the business in 2011.

Brainjuicer

We invested in BrainJuicer when they had only one founder employee. Our partnership helped the company scale to over 140 employees operating in 11 countries before we exited the business in 2011.

Summary

BrainJuicer PLC is a marketing and brand consultancy, with market research solutions grounded in the principles of behavioural science. Unilever Ventures invested in BrainJuicer in 2003 when it had only one founder employee John Kearon, the Chief Juicer. BrainJuicer has developed a number of highly innovative, and saleable consumer research and insight tools which translate breakthroughs in psychology, behavioural economics and social sciences to allow them to better understand and predict human behaviour, as well as automate research more effectively than conventional research companies.

Listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2006, and operating in 11 countries, with approximately 140 employees by the end of 2013. BrainJuicer’s clients include many of the worlds largest consumer facing companies with large (in many cases, global) brands.

Key Highlights

  • Initial investment made in 2003 – start of an 8 year relationship
  • Helped facilitate a strong and enduring agency-client relationship with Unilever, one of the world’s largest spenders on consumer research. Supported the company with its expansion into new markets, bringing in local Unilever knowledge to help assess potential employees and de-risking market entry by building a first customer relationship with Unilever in local markets.
  • Assisted the business with its listing on the AIM stock market in 2006
  • Unilever Ventures exited the business in 2011 achieving a 17x multiple on its investment.

brainjuicer.com

"Unilever Ventures combine the strategic and financial benefits of a solid venture capital firm with the unique ability to leverage Unilever, helping us to tune our proposition so that we could appeal to large consumer goods companies."John Kearon
Brainjuicer CEO & Founder

Brainjuicer

Froosh

Having acquired a majority stake in froosh, we have re-launched this fruit smoothie brand and business to drive it to number one in the market.

Froosh

Having acquired a majority stake in froosh, we have re-launched this fruit smoothie brand and business to drive it to number one in the market.

Summary

Unilever Ventures acquired the assets of froosh in December 2008 when the business had less than €1m in revenues and was #4 in the emerging Nordic smoothie category. It’s now the leading premium smoothie brand in Scandinavia with high double digit growth per annum. We oversaw fundamental changes in the business, including the recruitment of a new management team, reformulation of the brand and packaging to make it more provocative and eye-catching, a distinctive new product positioning and a shift of the business model to owned and operated markets. We have also launched a fruit farm initiative to promote the benefits of trade with developing countries.

Key Highlights

  • Recruited Brendan Harris (ex-Coca Cola) to lead the business in 2009
  • Oversaw the reformulation of the product to 100% NFC in 2009
  • Used extensive Unilever network to re-negotiate bulk fruit mix costs
  • Worked with agency partners to re-launch froosh brand and packaging in 2010, leading to numerous awards
  • Helped remodel business away from distributors in core markets to owned and operated model with froosh sales teams on the ground
  • Raised external growth capital from angel investor in 2012
  • Launched first ATL marketing campaign in June 2014 in Stockholm and Helsinki – “nobody knows fruit like froosh”

froosh.com

"Having an investor with such a deep understanding of the business has been a tremendous asset for froosh."Brendan Harris
Chairman & CEO, froosh AB

Froosh

Iluminage Beauty

We invested $25m to grow Iluminage Beauty, expanding distribution, developing award-winning new products and refreshing this home beauty device brand.

Iluminage Beauty

We invested $25m to grow Iluminage Beauty, expanding distribution, developing award-winning new products and refreshing this home beauty device brand.

Summary

Iluminage Beauty is a global joint venture in home beauty devices owned by Unilever Ventures and Syneron Medical Ltd. It combines Unilever’s global experience in consumer beauty product development and marketing and Syneron Medical’s expertise in professional aesthetic device technology.

Product areas include hair removal, acne and skin rejuvenation – and the range encompasses devices, topicals and intelligent textiles. Current key markets include North America, Europe and Israel.

Key highlights

  • Created JV with Syneron Medical in December 2013
  • Invested $25m to fund expansion
  • Worked with the business to develop branding strategy and to premiumise branding and packaging:
  • Iluminage Beauty Skin Smoothing Laser took 1st place in the Tools and At-Home Devices class at the HBA Global 2014 International Package Design Awards
  • Iluminage Beauty’s intelligent textile pillowcase won Neiman Marcus 2014 Beauty Award for the Best Kept Secrets Category
  • Supported the business in building UK operating model and developing organisational capability
  • Facilitated introductions to distributors in Asia
  • Secured Jack Gallagher, ex-CEO of Clarisonic as NED
  • Recruited George Cleary (previously President of COTY Americas) as CEO

iluminagebeauty.com

"Unilever is an ideal partner with consumer brand experience and significant global resources."Shimon Eckhouse
FOUNDER AND CHAIRMAN, Syneron Medical

Iluminage Beauty

Brandtone

We co-founded mobile marketing company, Brandtone, introducing them to blue chip companies and helping them scale internationally.

Brandtone

We co-founded mobile marketing company, Brandtone, introducing them to blue chip companies and helping them scale internationally.

Summary

Brandtone is a leading global provider of mobile marketing solutions to consumer goods companies. It partners with global brands to help them develop a deep and highly cost effective personal relationship with existing and prospective customers.

Unilever Ventures co-founded Brandtone in 2010 as the sole institutional investor. At the time the business was serving Unilever – its only client – in South Africa. Since then we’ve helped them scale internationally by raising over €20m in expansion capital with Verlinvest (the family investment arm of AB Inbev) and Syngenta Ventures.

Key Highlights

  • Co-founded the company in 2010
  • Made introductions into Unilever and helped secure Unilever as the largest client with multiple brand campaigns in all key markets
  • Helped secure major partnership deal with Unilever in Sept 2013 to:
    • support Brandtone’s expansion into India, China, Indonesia and the US
    • further build on the relationship in existing markets like Brazil, Russia, South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya
  • Brandtone now works with PepsiCo, SAB Millar, Kimberly Clarke and Kellogg’s.

brandtone.ie

"Unilever Ventures has helped us evolve our strategy, and understand how to navigate and service a large consumer goods company like Unilever."Donald Fitzmaurice
CEO, Brandtone Holdings Limited

Brandtone