Ulta Beauty Launches Digital Innovation Fund

The largest beauty retailer in the United States has just announced the official launch of Prisma Ventures, a digital innovation that will invest $20 million in technology startups. The main objective behind this launch is to encourage long-term partnerships by providing these tech startups an insight into Ulta’s expertise and resources. Fund participants will receive access to Ulta Beauty’s innovation team, consumer insights, and in-market testing opportunities.

Ulta’s chief digital officer, Prama Bhatt expressed her expectations saying: 

“Launching Prisma Ventures is yet another way Ulta Beauty innovatively leads and delivers forward-thinking retail experiences. We believe this fund presents opportunities for creative disruptors to further propel the industry forward.”

She also explained: “We set out to build lasting relationships with startups, welcoming them into our ecosystem, co-creating and experimenting in ways that tap each other’s expertise and ultimately leverage our resources to imagine – and reimagine – what’s next for retail and beauty.”

Since its announcement, Prisma Ventures has partnered with and invested in a variety of start-ups including Haut.ai, Adeptmind, Revea, LUUM, and ReStyle. To date, these investments have enabled greater customization within Ulta Beauty’s digital skin and hair experiences. 

The CEO of Iterate.ai, a technology company specializing in AI applications, talked about their fantastic experience with this partnership: 

“Ulta Beauty’s investment was a game changer, providing us both with an incredible opportunity to test, learn, deploy, and scale our low-code AI innovation platform. Ulta Beauty leveraged our platform to create engaging, differentiated experiences for beauty lovers nationwide, plus it added to Iterate’s credibility.,”

“The collaborative spirit has been a constant throughout our six-year relationship which grew from a small agreement in 2016 into an eventual investment. Together, we’re pushing the industry forward with incredible AI-, AR-, and IoT-related innovation.”

Prisma Ventures accepts applicant startups in their early stage, mainly Series Seed and Series A technology companies. The Ulta Beauty Prisma Ventures team evaluates applicants based on five key metrics:

  • Alignment with a Focus Area: Companies that align with Ulta Beauty’s four primary innovation pillars
  • Leadership & Cultural Compatibility: The startups’ management experience, ability to execute, and cultural fit to enable successful collaboration
  • Diligence & Risk Assessment: Successful completion of diligence across functions such as legal, technical, and business
  • Business Plan & Scalability: Strength of value proposition, vision, plans to reach financial goals and scale

Back in June, Ulta announced they would support “early-stage BIPOC beauty brands” through its MUSE Accelerator program, providing time, resources, and mentorship. With these steps, the brand looks to embark on a project to foster new, innovative and inclusive brands.

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