News Briefs

04/25/2022

Walt Disney Company Opens Applications for Accelerator Program

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Accelerator program graphic

Growth stage companies looking to transform the technology and entertainment space can now submit applications for The Walt Disney Company’s Accelerator program. Now in its seventh year, the program is taking applications until May 13, and is looking to accelerate the growth of innovative companies from around the world. 

Disney is focusing on companies that are innovating in areas such as artificial intelligence, data and analytics, immersive experiences, machine learning, personalization, robotics, sports tech, and web3. Program participants will be able to connect with experts at Disney to receive guidance on their tech.

[More on tech: Yum Brands, Danone, Kellogg’s Tech Leaders Join Analytics Unite 2022]

Past participants include CAMP, the Family Experience Company, which launched in December of 2018 and was an RIS Hot Retail Startup in 2020.

“The Disney Accelerator introduces us to visionary companies that are leading innovators in their respective industries,” said Bonnie Rosen, general manager of Disney Accelerator. “We are looking forward to this year’s program and can’t wait to connect with the next generation of talent that will help us make bold decisions and identify new opportunities for innovation at The Walt Disney Company.”

The Disney Accelerator program will kick off in July, closing with a Demo Day in the fall. Applications are being accepted here

This article was first published on the site of sister publication RIS. 

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04/20/2022

Crocs Taps Danone’s Deanna Bratter to Lead Sustainability Efforts

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Deanna Bratter headshot

Casual footwear brand Crocs, Inc., has created a new role: vice president of global head of sustainability. 

Deanna Bratter will assume the new role, responsible for helping the company achieve its goal to be net zero by 2030, as well as enhancing commitments and impacts across environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and corporate governance (ESG).

Prior to joining Crocs, Bratter was the vice president of sustainable development/One Planet. One Health at Danone North America. In that role, she oversaw the company’s push to address climate change, focusing on responsible sourcing, the restoration of natural ecosystems, sustainable packaging, and community support. 

Bratter also previously led corporate sustainability for WhiteWave Foods, managing the company’s annual CSR and ESG reporting. 

"Consumers are keenly focused on purpose, inclusivity and a sustainable future, and Crocs has set clear ambitions to integrate sustainability into every part of their business and products," said Bratter. "This is an iconic brand, and I am thrilled for the opportunity to apply my experience in creating more sustainable systems to Crocs, bringing collaborative and innovative solutions in an effort to ensure we meet our commitments and create a more sustainable and comfortable world for all."

Last year, the company committed to reducing its carbon footprint to become a more sustainable brand, outlining its strategy. Since then, the brand has transitioned to sustainable ingredients across its product lines. Changes were also made across the company’s packaging, looking at new ways to give Crocs a second life, transitioning to renewable energy, and investing in responsible resource use. 

Crocs CEO Andrew Rees said that climate change is an urgent issue that requires “meaningful and rapid action.”

"We have an equal responsibility to ensure we're doing our part to create a more comfortable world," added Rees. "We are excited to welcome Deanna into this key leadership position and are confident that her deep experience and expertise will help Crocs achieve its ambitious sustainability goals."

This article first appeared on the site of sister publication RIS News.

04/18/2022

General Mills Investing in Food Tech VC to Advance DEI Commitments

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General Mills’ venture capital arm, 301 INC, is investing a combined $15 million into two early-stage venture capital funds — Fearless Fund and Supply Change Capital — as part of its commitment to promoting racial and gender equity in representation through economic opportunity for minority and female food entrepreneurs.

The investments focus on supporting founders from underrepresented groups and will be designated for food-related businesses that seek to drive systemic impact and financial returns.

Supply Change Capital, a women and Latina powered venture firm, invests at the intersection of food, culture, and technology. It catalyzes early-stage food and food tech founders with a focus on sustainability, health, and diversity.

[See also: General Mills Leans Into Predictive Experiences]

Fearless Fund is a fund built by women of color that invests in women-of-color-led businesses seeking pre-seed, seed-level or series A financing. Its mission is to bridge the gap in venture capital funding for founders building scalable, growth-aggressive companies.

Previous investments from 301 INC include the plant-based food company known as Everything Legendary that targets the Black community, a decision made after 301 INC identified Black Americans as the largest and fastest-growing vegan demographic in the country, at nearly 8%.

“We experience firsthand the expertise and passion of the diverse and female founders within our 301 INC portfolio, and yet there is a systemic gap for minority food entrepreneurs looking for early-stage venture capital funding,” said Doug Martin, chief brand and disruptive growth officer, General Mills. “We’re excited to join forces with these amazing partners to uncover and accelerate more founders, at earlier stages. Closing this gap means more great innovation in our food system — from new concepts to emerging food technologies — and more inclusive cycles of opportunity for entrepreneurs, companies and communities.”

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04/18/2022

PepsiCo Adds Tech-Powered Clarity to Supply Chain

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PepsiCo launched the Community College Program in March to support 4,000 Black and Hispanic students over five years. Editorial credit: JHVEPhoto / Shutterstock.com

PepsiCo is leveraging an AI-based solution to improve efficiency across the supply chain. Tapping 09 Solution’s Integrated Business Planning platform, PepsiCo will be able to perform real-time scenario planning in order to evaluate commercial and supply chain scenarios, improving processes including execution.

Using the analytics platform, PepsiCo can optimize its decision making and implement technology that drives cross-functional planning.

Chakri Gottemukkala, co-founder and CEO of o9, said today’s global enterprises need to “break through silos” and ensure that all business functions are working together in order to compete in a complex and rapidly changing market.

04/13/2022

Retail Velocity Undergoing Major Rebrand

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Retail Velocity, a consumer demand and supply data management company, is rebranding. 

Featuring a top-to-bottom revamp, in response to a renewed corporate mission led by the July 2021 appointment of CEO John Rossi, Retail Velocity will be showcasing a new visual identity and go-to-market messaging. 

The rebrand includes a new company logo, color palette, typography, imagery, and company tagline: “Reliable Data at the Speed of Now.” According to the company, the tagline emphasizes its expertise at providing consumer brands with daily retail point-of-sale and inventory data “at the most granular level to enable them to generate actionable insights.” 

[More on rebrands: RB Rebrands As Reckitt]

The new logo symbolizes business growth, continuous collaboration, data integrity, and harmonization, according to the company, and the new brand colors represent profitability, harmony, intelligence, and leadership.

Rossi succeeds Jeff Beckett, Retail Velocity co-founder and CEO since 1997. Beckett will continue to serve as chairman of the company’s board of directors, providing counsel to Retail Velocity’s leadership team.

“I am privileged to have stepped into the CEO role at Retail Velocity and continue building on the long-term success the company has achieved over the last 28 years,” said Rossi, adding that part of the company’s evolution is launching a new corporate identity that not only recognizes past success, but also symbolizes the changes taking place across the business.  

In previous leadership roles at Capgemini, Wipro, Plan4Demand. and Clarkston Consulting, Rossi developed and executed go-to-market strategies for the consumer goods, retail, hospitality, distribution, and transportation consulting groups and verticals.

“Since John joined Retail Velocity, he has significantly strengthened our business processes, enhanced our product offerings and improved our strategic planning and growth,” said Beckett. “He has a strong vision for the future success of the company and has brought in extremely talented and experienced individuals who will continue to develop and provide outstanding products and services to our current and future clients.”

04/08/2022

Shisiedo Launches AI Makeup Advisor Experience

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Shiseido store front

Global makeup company Shiseido is tapping into AI-powered personalized recommendations with its new offering: AI Makeup Advisor. Powered by Revieve, the technology will use a “selfie analysis” to help consumers identify products that are unique to their needs. 

Consumers can access the Makeup Advisor via Shiseido’s website. They will be asked to upload a selfie and answer questions based on their desired beauty goals. Using AI and user input, the technology then provides a list of recommended products based on full makeup application, including eyes, lips, and face. Consumers will also be able to try on products virtually before purchasing to determine whether they are a good fit. 

The company will be able to leverage the zero- and first-party data collected to provide more personalized recommendations. 

The partnership with Revieve kicked off in 2019 with the launch of Skincare Advisor across all of Shiseido’s regional markets. Romain Carrega, Shiseido EMEA Prestige director said he is excited to see the relationship expand to makeup.

“Shiseido’s customers can now purchase new products with full confidence and discover a makeup routine that works for them,” he said.Delivering these innovations to consumers to pursue beauty and wellness have been part of the Shiseido DNA since day one.”  

“Brands and retailers are connecting with their consumers in a whole new way,“ said Sampo Parkkinen, founder and CEO at Revieve. “AI-powered technologies in a traditional industry like beauty and skincare will help guide brands in understanding their consumers and leveraging their needs to market and promote their products in the most tailored way possible.” 

Shiseido has made several advancements in its digital transformation over the past year. In 2021, the company formed a joint venture with Accenture to migrate its IT infrastructure to the cloud and more heavily invest in digital marketing and emerging technologies like AR.