- Procter & Gamble's Ventures unit has partnered with The Vinetta Project, a firm focused on gender equity in funding, to get in on the ground floor with the next big female-founded startups, according to details shared with Marketing Dive.
- P&G Ventures and Vinetta will pinpoint desirable early-stage ventures through a year-long program focused on three tracks: problem hacking sessions wherein P&G Ventures executives will provide individual advice to startup founders to help them overcome barriers to success; P&G Ventures-sponsored pitch events offering a $20,000 cash prize and other "acceleration opportunities" to winners; and networking dinners with investors, founders and operators.
- The initiative to source and scale new businesses will focus on categories such as sleep, menopause, pain, male wellness, aging and skin, among others. Vinetta provides founders equal access to capital in a bid to close the gender-based funding gap. The platform, which has been used by 4,000 founders, has a stated goal of forming the world's largest deal pipeline for seed stage and series A round startups.
As direct-to-consumer (DTC) startups continue to eat into the market share of traditional packaged goods companies, P&G Venture's tie-up with Vinetta could provide the CPG giant with a more direct pipeline into the next wave of disruptors and rising female entrepreneurs. Parent company P&G has ramped up acquisitions of DTC brands to stay competitive in a market increasingly led by digital, but also to break into new and niche categories for growth.
The Cincinnati-based conglomerate late last year purchased Walker & Company, a health and beauty startup catering to the needs of consumers of color. In February, P&G bought the purpose-driven marketer This Is L., known for making organic feminine products and donating proceeds to causes that improve women's access to feminine care.
Similarly, the Vinetta partnership through its startup studio arm reinforces P&G's commitments to supporting gender equality — a position that's recently been echoed through internal corporate initiatives and in the marketing for some of its largest brands.
"We believe the focus and perspective that diverse, female-led endeavors offer will provide a unique perspective that will accelerate growth for our business and the industry as a whole," Betsy Bluestone, commercial discovery leader of P&G Ventures, said in a press statement.
Focusing on equality in startup funding is a move growing more common in the industry: P&G rival Unilever last year pledged to achieve gender parity in its startup investments by 2023.
P&G at the Cannes Lions advertising festival last year also formed a number of creative and media partnerships focused on advancing gender equality, and pledged to increase the number of female directors it uses for commercial work from one in 10 to at least half. Later in the fall, the company co-hosted the first #SheIsEqual Summit with Global Citizen and the Association of National Advertisers.
But P&G has also started to take more vocal stances on gender-related issues in its consumer-facing ad campaigns. Deodorant brand Secret, a sponsor of the U.S. women's national soccer team, pushed a campaign earlier this month supporting equal pay for the team's athletes following their World Cup victory. Though other league sponsors nodded to gender equality in their messaging around the tournament, Secret was alone in directly calling out pay, and said it would donate $529,000 to U.S. women's players as part of the effort.
Working with a cause-led capital platform like Vinetta might put another feather in P&G's cap on the equality front, as startup inequality remains a pressing issue in Silicon Valley and elsewhere. Female founders received just 2.2% of the $130 billion total in venture capital money invested in startups in 2018, according to PitchBook and All Raise data cited by Vinetta.