Lessons learned from a longstanding partnership between P&G and Plug and Play
We realize that the solutions to our consumers’ pain points can be tough to find. However, we’ve learned that we don’t have to figure it out by ourselves and that innovative solutions can originate from anywhere. One of the most important things we’ve learned over the years is that the key to growing successful brands is found in forming strong partnerships.
We often look to strategic partners who can help get us farther, faster in our mission to improve consumers’ lives across the globe.
Take, for instance, our relationship with Plug and Play.
Founded in 2006, Plug and Play is the world’s largest early-stage investor, accelerator, and corporate innovation platform. Their network is massive, comprising 30,000+ startups, 500+ world-leading corporations, and hundreds of venture capital firms, universities, and government agencies across multiple industries.
Their mission? To drive innovation by connecting entrepreneurs, corporations, and investors worldwide.
The relationship between Plug and Play and P&G Ventures is a longstanding one. In fact, it was one of our very first strategic partnerships. We realized early on that, as the largest accelerator globally, Plug and Play had an incredible ability to supercharge our innovation strategy and the success of our startup partners. Their expansive network has given us access to some of the world’s most innovative startups, which are strategically aligned to make the most meaningful connections for everyone involved.
What does this mean to you? The core of our partnership with Plug and Play is driven by our mutual desire to see everyone win—which means you, us, and the consumer: a true win/win/win.
Two flints to make a fire.
We’ve established that Plug and Play has a giant startup network, but how is that helpful to us? Well, Plug and Play knows P&G. They also know that we’re constantly on the hunt for businesses that improve how people care for their families, clean their homes, and elevate their wellbeing. In essence, Plug and Play serves as a matchmaker between P&G and relevant startups.
As a corporate partner, P&G has access to direct introductions, or deal flows. Think of deal flows as a first date between a promising startup and P&G, an industry-leading corporation.
Plug and Play began as a regional company based in Sunnyvale, CA, and now has more than 30 locations across the globe. Their international presence allows them to keep their finger on the pulse of trends and developments within the startup ecosystem, which varies from country to country.
Together, we create a robust portfolio of brands.
Each year, Plug and Play hosts over 60 startup accelerator programs. P&G Ventures partners with these programs because we’re eager to engage startups who are creating disruptive technologies in industries that align with our focus areas.
These events serve as our invitation to entrepreneurs and startups to pitch their ideas for the next consumer-packaged goods brand. P&G Ventures is specifically looking for “Proctor-like” products within these accelerator programs, meaning physical consumer goods that improve people’s lives.
When you’re growing your portfolio, do it with a purpose.
Innovation opportunities are all around us. But to stay focused on our larger organizational mission, we’ve selected a handful of focus areas that represent categories in which P&G currently does not play:
Non-Toxic Home and Garden. We’re looking for safe, effective, industry-leading technologies that control insects in the home and on plants.
Active Aging—Women. We’re looking for solutions that address challenges ranging from menopause symptoms to migraines, from UTIs to yeast infections, from painful sex to stress incontinence—so women can live active, vibrant lives.
Active Aging—Men. We’re looking for solutions to age-related challenges such as incontinence, mobility challenges, and sexual dysfunction—to help men age with vitality and live their fullest lives.
Healthy Skin. We’re looking for new technologies to help consumers keep their skin looking, feeling, and functioning at its best, especially in addressing acne, sun protection, hyperpigmentation, eczema, and psoriasis.
Personal Performance. We’re looking to help consumers live healthy, confident lives by creating products that aid in breathing, stress resistance, focus, and cognitive health.
Balanced Protection. We’re looking for products that help consumers successfully rid their homes of “bad” bacteria—especially clothing, carpet, and upholstery—without overcleaning or getting rid of “good” bacteria.
Food Preservation & Waste Reduction. We’re looking to reduce the 30-40% existing food waste and save consumers time and money with new technologies that keep food fresher for longer.
Daily Wellness. We’re looking for health solutions to help consumers maximize their “wellspan” and live their best lives.
Go-Anywhere Clean. We’re looking for products that offer on-the-go protection against harmful bacteria. To help consumers maintain a clean and safe environment, no matter where they go.
Helping Parents. We’re looking for solutions to support parents and children ages 0–5 to help them raise healthy, resilient children during this critical stage.
Emerging Frontiers. We’re looking for new ideas outside of existing and previous P&G markets—particularly products that preserve valuable items, make users’ homes more healing and nurturing, or make their homes and communities smarter, more efficient, and more resilient.
The unique benefit of partnering with P&G Ventures
Entrepreneurs have the opportunity in most accelerator programs to work with professionals who serve as mentors and offer feedback to help entrepreneurs grow and succeed.
Plug and Play understands the unique benefits that startups will gain when they partner with us, P&G’s startup studio.
Support of a world-class team. From branding to marketing to supply chain and manufacturing, P&G has deep end-to-end expertise that startups and entrepreneurs can tap into as needed.
Access to global connections. Just as Plug and Play has a vast network, so do we. From researchers to advisors to major retailers across the globe, it’s just a matter of picking up the phone to make a game-changing connection.
Expertise across a wide range of capabilities. We’ve been growing our capabilities for over 180 years. From pricing and marketing a product to knowing what makes a product successful at the shelf, we’re here to help our partners learn from our successes—and our mistakes.
Find partners who care about the win/win.
Our partnership with Plug and Play is beneficial for many reasons. Their global reach is a huge differentiator. They attract top talent. They have insights into startup funding deals. And they’re cross-vertical, which allows them to play in a lot of different product areas.
In short, they’re where the action is. Plug and Play have boots on the ground in Berlin with IoT. They’re in Northern Ohio, making a difference in healthcare. They’re in Paris developing fashion. They introduce us to new startups and often serve as a P&G Ventures ambassador in locations across the globe.
But beyond the connections and access, they understand our mission. At the heart of P&G Ventures is a genuine desire for everyone to win—us, our partners, and, most importantly, our consumers. The win/win/win.
Anyone can make a business deal. But it takes vision, commitment, and heart to make sure the consumer is ultimately the one who benefits.
So, while strategic partnerships are essential for business growth, make sure you’re partnering with an organization that not only understands but believes in your mission.
Hold yourself accountable to vision and focus. Innovation is born out of understanding specific people, pain points, and working hard to find unique and life-changing solutions to people’s real problems.
Find a partner who both supports and complements your vision and focus. P&G and Plug and Play have different missions, but we’re in alignment. We know when to partner, and we’ve built history by looking for ways to continue adding value to each other. Partnership is a two-way street, and it ultimately leads to a happier, healthier consumer.
For more information about Plug and Play:
Plug and Play’s programs are industry-themed to ensure that startups and corporate partners make the most meaningful connections for their business. They empower specific business units by pinpointing their challenges then matching them to startups with the right solutions. Plug and Play invests in over 250 startups a year and has connections to 300 of the world’s best VCs. If you’re looking to raise a round, they may have the perfect ecosystem for you.
For more information about P&G Ventures:
P&G Ventures is a startup studio within Procter & Gamble that partners with startups, entrepreneurs, and inventors to fund and accelerate billion-dollar ideas that improve consumers’ lives. Think you have the next big idea? We’d love to hear from you.