News Briefs


General Mills Investing in Food Tech VC to Advance DEI Commitments


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.”


PepsiCo Adds Tech-Powered Clarity to Supply Chain

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

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.


Retail Velocity Undergoing Major Rebrand

Rebranding word cloud

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.”


Shisiedo Launches AI Makeup Advisor Experience

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.


CGT Parent EnsembleIQ Investing in Membership and Subscriptions With New Hire: Craig Lowe

Craig Lowe headshot

CGT parent company EnsembleIQ has tapped previous Wall Street Journal employee Craig Lowe for its newly created position: senior vice president of membership and subscriptions. Lowe will be responsible for the overall strategy and delivery of new enterprise membership and subscriptions initiatives across the company’s grocery, drug, convenience, retail technology, and consumer goods channels. 

Lowe brings vast international membership and subscription expertise from across both the business to business information services marketplace and consumer media. He created paid subscriptions and membership programs, transformed a conferences business, and led controlled circulation and news trade sales and marketing initiatives. 

He was most recently vice president, global audience marketing at Dow Jones, where he was responsible for delivering audiences for the Wall Street Journal’s global events business, and developing membership growth strategies for all WSJ Professional membership propositions. Earlier in his career, Lowe was with BMI Research, Espicom Business Intelligence, Saga Publishing Ltd, Euromoney Institutional Investor Plc, and Centaur Media Plc. 

“Today we have two high-value membership products — Path to Purchase Institute and Restaurant Technology Network. By bringing Craig into EnsembleIQ, our goal is to create new, innovative membership and subscription experiences that leverage our actionable intelligence and connections across key retail channels,” said Jennifer Litterick, CEO of EnsembleIQ. “Craig will provide strategic leadership to ensure that we are tailoring our solutions to fulfill the needs of our business decision maker audiences and new constituencies seeking to grow their businesses.” 

EnsembleIQ is a North American business intelligence company delivering insightful information and actionable connections throughout the entire path to purchase in retail, retail technology, consumer goods, healthcare, and hospitality. To learn more about EnsembleIQ, visit


Google’s Cloud Brings User Intent to Brand E-com Search


Retailers including Lowe’s, Fnac Darty, and Casas Pernambucanas are leveraging Google Cloud’s new technology to improve website and mobile app search experiences.

The tech, which became widely available this week, is built on Google’s technologies to understand user intent and context. For example, when a consumer searches for a “long black dress with short sleeves and comfortable fit” on an e-commerce site, they will immediately get results for that item, according to Google.

This fully managed service is customizable and features advanced query understanding for better results from broad queries and non-product searches; semantic search to effectively match product attributes with website content; optimized results that leverage user interaction and ranking models to meet specific business goals; and security and privacy measures to ensure retailer data is isolated with access controls to delivers search results on their own properties.

[See also: Nike’s Apps Rocket Fuel for Growth]

“With limited customer signals and no historical data, descriptive long-tail searches are some of the most challenging queries to understand,” added Neelima Sharma, senior VP, technology, e-commerce, marketing and merchandising at Lowe’s. “We have been partnering with Google Cloud to give our customers relevant results for long-tail searches and have seen an increase in click-through and search conversion and a drop in our ‘No Results Found’ rate since we launched.”

"Making constant improvements to our website search engines has always been a priority for us as we aim to give our customers a simpler, more customized and enhanced online shopping experience,” said Olivier Theulle, Fnac Darty's chief ecommerce and digital officer. “As we implement Google Cloud’s site search solution on our Fnac Darty websites and are the first French retailer to do so, we expect the solution to deliver increased conversion rates while also offering greater customer satisfaction.”

Fabiano Rustice, CIO at Pernambucanas, said the retailer recorded a 20% reduction in search refinements per user on Black Friday 2021, the largest retail date in Brazil.