On the heights of the city of Grasse, on the iconic premises of the old Charabot perfume shop, five young companies selected through an application process will join the Villa Blu accelerator project every six months, for two years, to take part in an intensive support programme.
“Villa Blu aims to be a welcoming place for everything that represents innovation in naturalness, in the broad meaning of the term”, says Olivier Maubert, Director of Robertet and President of Villa Blu. “To Robertet, naturalness is not just a source for all our ingredients. We must have a broader impact and reflect on the whole ecosystem.”
Each group of five startups-in-residence will be guided by both Robertet and external experts to identify their weaknesses, work on product design, quality, market understanding, company structure, fundraising, etc.
“Startups are increasingly innovative, but they do not always get the much-needed support a major company like us can provide. Natural expertise involves a lot of investment, analysis, processes, knowledge… We will provide all this as an acceleration solution”, adds the Director.
A natural-oriented incubator
The young companies targeted come from all over the world. They are both upstream and downstream players on the natural segment, and they focus on product and by-product upgrade. They interact with all business areas, not just perfumes and cosmetics.
“Robertet embodies sourcing, extraction, and proposal. We believe that we need to broaden our areas of competence if we want to remain a naturalness leader. The notion of upgrading is crucial. It goes much beyond our sole company”, says Olivier Maubert.
Following this first programme, the companies selected will be able to get Robertet’s support for another 18 months, in return for a 7% acquisition of interests – this way, they will get a 100,000-euro financial help.
“We do not mean to take control of them. We respect their independence and aim for them to remain this way. We are mainly here to help”, highlights Olivier Maubert.
With the Villa Blu project, the group now aims to build up a broader programme mixing local authorities and communities, academic structures, and other partners in the ecosystem.
“Naturalness is no longer just the source of our ingredients. It represents a much broader ecosystem. We are launching Villa Blu with much ambition and passion, because society is changing. Thanks to Robertet’s legitimacy, as the company that set up the project, and to our being based in Grasse, Villa Blu could be the starting point to build up a greater community gathering all this new Natural ecosystem!” concludes the President.