The Dealmakers: The people making the industries’ most impactful deals
VP, New Incubation Ventures, The Estée Lauder Companies Inc.
After leading Estée Lauder Companies’ mergers and acquisitions arm for six years, Shana Randhava, vp of New Incubation Ventures at ELC, saw an opportunity for earlier-stage partnerships with emerging founders. After all, The Estée Lauder Companies took a phased approach to its last two investments, with indie brands Deciem and Dr. Jart in 2017 and 2015, respectively. Both brands were eventually acquired by ELC. In the last year, New Incubation Ventures has made four investments in emerging brands with an eye on international markets. That’s included Toronto-based grooming brand Faculty and natural skin-care and fragrance brand Haeckels, based in the U.K. It also kicked off a partnership with e-commerce platform Nykaa to find the next big beauty founder in India.
What sets New Incubation Ventures apart from other VC funds in beauty?
“My last two acquisitions, Deciem and Dr. Jart, were the inspiration for this group. With those transactions, we took a phased approach to developing a partnership with the founders; we started taking a minority stake and then eventually increased that stake to a majority position. It was capital efficient and de-risked the acquisition process, plus it allowed for the brands to be grown and nurtured in a sustainable and long-term way. Building on that, the organization asked me and my team, ‘How do you scale that capability and look to play earlier on in the life cycle of brands?’ What we’ve been able to do is extend our inorganic strategy to what we’re calling the earliest stage, being able to play anywhere from investing against a concept in a founder’s head to about $20 million in sales.”
How focused are you on categories, regions or trends?
“We are focused on brand. We are brand and product focused on areas that are strategic or may become strategic in the future. We do [invest] across all four of our main categories [makeup, skin care, hair care, fragrance], and we do have a very global lens.”
What has inspired your recent investments?
“If you look at our history and Estée [Lauder], she really had a challenger spirit and was looking to disrupt the current environment. What’s been fantastic with all of our investments is all the founders share that same DNA. They’re looking across their hypotheses and spaces to challenge where the industry is today. That includes what Haeckels is doing with their recent relaunch and how it’s leading in cutting-edge sustainability, and Faculty’s reimagining of what self-expression means for grooming. It’s exciting. We’re humbled to partner with them and to further accelerate what they’re trying to do.”
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