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Ep.24-Jump Series: Which Beauty Accelerator Fits Your Beauty Brand?

In this episode of Jump Series, Rohit Banota, founder of Jump Accelerator and host of “What Beauty Founders Don’t Know” Podcast compares different retailers’ beauty accelerators on structure, curriculum, eligibility, funding, resources, how to apply etc.

Timestamps and Key Insights

02:25.6- Comparison criteria for retailers’ beauty accelerators
02:47.0-Ulta’s Muse Accelerator
07:05.4-Sephora Accelerate
11:42.3-Target Take Off
17:26.8-Jump Accelerator

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  You’ll get to build a real heartfelt connection to Sephora’s community. You get the chance again to launch your brand with Sephora, the biggest beauty retailer in the world. Imagine seeing your brand on the shelves of Sephora stores. Ulta’s Muse Beauty Accelerator helps founders of color who aren’t often seen enough in the beauty industry. Being chosen for Muse Accelerator isn’t just about the knowledge and mentorship you gain. They will also give you a financial boost. If you are chosen, you will get a whopping 50, 000.

Here are some of the big shots. Desiree Rogers, CEO of Black Opal, Julissa Parado, founder and CEO of Rizos Curls, Ron Robinson, founder and CEO of Beautystat Cosmetics, Shontay Lundy, creator and founder of Black Girl Sunscreen. 

  Welcome to What Beauty Founders Don’t Know, a podcast formerly known as Jumpstart. Here, women led, early stage beauty brands learn counterintuitive insights to accelerate their profitability and revenue to 20 to 50 million. And even 100 million without spending a fortune on ads, influencers, and reckless distribution.

With your host, Rohit Banota, ex P&G and founder of Toronto based Jump Accelerator. Together, let’s create a more conscious, humane, and beautiful planet. A woman’s world. Don’t forget to subscribe, click the bell notifications, and leave a review.

  Let’s go. Which beauty accelerator fits your beauty brand? We are going to study, look at a few different accelerators, which are mainly retailers, their accelerator programs and see which is a fit for your beauty brand’s custom growth opportunity. These powerhouses are stepping up to propel beauty brands like yours into the limelight.

However, like I said, the struggle is which one to choose. I do understand that they have a limited batch size so getting in is what matters and founders do go to multiple accelerators sequentially, but still it will help for you to see their offerings and decide for yourself which is the best fit for your beauty brand?

We have to look at their programs, their structure, et cetera. What kind of brands they take in. So these accelerators are Sephora Accelerate, Ulta’s Muse,Target’s Takeoff, or maybe you need a completely different option.

What I’m going to cover is what do they offer, mentorship, curriculum, duration, funding, eligibility, criteria, selection process, guarantees, notable alumni, et cetera, et cetera. I will cover this for each of these accelerators.

Sephora Accelerate, Target Takeoff, and Ulta’s Muse. And maybe one more. Which is a surprise for you.

Let’s start with Ulta’s Beauty Accelerator Muse. Ulta’s Muse Beauty Accelerator helps founders of color who aren’t often seen enough in the beauty industry. This isn’t just about token support though.

They are committed to providing comprehensive tools, in depth training and one on one mentorship to build your brand and make a significant impact in the industry. What do they offer? If you are one of the lucky eight brands that gets picked, this is what they will offer and I’ll go through these one by one.

Brand strategy and positioning. You will get the resources and support. You need to make your brand strong and successful. Think of it like a game plan for your brand to win in the big leagues. I don’t want to elaborate more on brand strategy and positioning, as a founder, you’re pretty well versed.

Obviously there’s technical detail to it and I do cover it in my other podcasts or in the blogs that I write on my site. They also cover retail 101 with Ulta’s expertise in retail. Obviously you’re not just starting a brand, you are growing it and making it thrive in a retail environment.

That covers both online and physical stores. Supply chain and logistics: they will train you on how to choose suppliers, vendors, et cetera, et cetera. How to do the right distribution.

Then there’s a demo week and celebration. You will get to take your brand onto the big stage. You get to pitch your brand to people who might want to invest in it and help it grow further. Mentorship in the Muse Accelerator, you get a mentor, someone who’s there for you.

Here are some of the big shots. Desiree Rogers, CEO of Black Opal, Julissa Parado, founder and CEO of Rizos Curls, Ron Robinson, founder and CEO of Beautystat Cosmetics, Shontay Lundy, creator and founder of Black Girl Sunscreen. Let’s go through the curriculum. Muse Accelerator’s curriculum isn’t just a bunch of boring lectures.

They have an action packed learning experience designed to prepare your brand for the big wide world of retail. You’ll get unique opportunities to learn from experts in various fields. Everything from merchandising, which is how you display and sell your products on the shelves in the store. Supply chain:

how do you manage your entire supply chain, sourcing, vendors, et cetera, ingredients. Legal stuff, to keep you on the right side of the law and marketing.

Their schedule, you are more than welcome to go and look at their site and they do have a different page for Muse accelerator and you’ll find the latest details there. The duration of the program, it takes 10 weeks. That might not seem like a long time, but you will learn a lot and some more during this time span.

When it comes to funding, being chosen for Muse Accelerator isn’t just about the knowledge and mentorship you gain. They will also give you a financial boost. If you are chosen, you will get a whopping 50, 000. Who’s eligible? Here are the boxes you need to tick. You need to be BIPOC owned. Your brand needs to be early stage, but already has some market presence or direct to consumer revenue.

Your products aren’t sold at any major retailer. You have more than one shelf ready product. You are ready to grow and develop your brand. You’re eager to learn from industry experts. Mindset, extremely important. You’re able to commit to the full 10 week program. You’re at least 18 years old, a US citizen, and currently living in the United States.

The selection process is as follows. They have an internal team that will screen applications based on the above criteria, and they will select beauty brands that can benefit the most from their program. Their site does not mention the exact details of the selection process, but I’ll tell you how you can apply.

If you have checked all the boxes and are ready to apply, a link to your business registration documentation, a link to your pitch deck or any supporting materials, and any registration numbers for any intellectual property that your company owns. This could be patents, copyrights, trademarks, et cetera.

The number of employees or contractors you have both part time and full time, your sales volume for the previous two years, fiscal years, and the order volume. What is your consumer retention rate? To learn more, you can write an email, Muse Accelerator at the rate of ulta. com. Guarantees: at the end of the program, selected brands will have the chance to pitch their business to Ulta beauty buyers. However, they cannot guarantee that any brand will launch at ultra beauty as part of the program.

That said, you still would have gained invaluable experience, mentorship, and knowledge to take your brand to the next level. So that was Ulta. Now let’s get to Sephora Accelerate, which is Sephora’s Beauty Accelerator.

Sephora’s Beauty Accelerator is on a mission to create an empowering community within the beauty industry. They are fully committed to nurturing brand founders who are people of color. This aligns with Sephora’s commitment to the 15 percent pledge, a pledge that aims to fill 15 percent of shelf space in stores with products from black owned businesses.

They believe in the richness of diversity and want to reflect this in the beauty industry. The aim to provide these founders with the tools and support they need to overcome these challenges and succeed. So what do they offer? Let’s see what’s in the bag for you. Learning from the best. Again, you’ll learn straight from the experts.

You’ll hear from beauty brand founders. who’ve already walked the, in the shoes that you know, you have on right now. Sephora leaders who know the industry inside out and other industry experts that they bring on board who can help make your brand the best it can be. So it’s a six month journey, where you’ll pick up all the skills you need to build a successful beauty brand and business.

And the best part, you’ll get access to loads of resources, both digital and in person that will help you get your brand ready for retail. You will build connections. One of the special things about this program is the connections you’ll make. You’ll get to build a real heartfelt connection to Sephora’s community and its ecosystem.

Launching with Sephora. You get the chance again to launch your brand with Sephora, the biggest beauty retailer in the world. Imagine seeing your brand on the shelves of Sephora stores. That’s the opportunity of a lifetime, even though there’s no guarantee. Mentorship: they bring together a diverse group of experienced individuals, like I said, who will offer you guidance and insights.

For example, Alicia Sontag, a partner at Prelude Growth Partners has been one of the mentors. Alyssa Williams, partner at VMG Partners, Alyssa Vaughn, partner at Sidemen and Bancroft LLP, Amy Liu, founder and CEO of Tower28, Aurora James, founder and creative director of Brother Valleys, and 15 percent Pledge.

The curriculum at Sephora is, it’s a six month tailor made design for BIPOC founded beauty brands aiming to launch at Sephora. It’s not just about teaching you, but about fostering community and collaborations. There are weekly content sessions that offer advice from industry leaders.

For instance, you can expect financial readiness tips from Nancy Twine of Brigeo Haircare, brand strategy pointers from Vicky Tsai of Tatcha, sold to Unilever, and marketing lessons from Amy Liu of Tower28. What more do you want? There are other beauty industry partners, portfolio founders and financial professionals who will come to guide you.

The curriculum encompasses everything you need to succeed from mentorship and merchandising support to grants and investor connections. They don’t guarantee a grant, but the curriculum includes how to get one done. An opportunity to launch your brand at Sephora North America upon completion. So the program lasts for six months, even though they do not have the specific schedule. Usually, in the past it has been from January to June. Funding, they will provide a grant to all participants.

The exact amount is kept confidential, but it’s meant to assist in brand development and growth.

Eligibility criteria: applicants must lead a North America incorporated beauty brand company, be founded or co- founded by someone at least 18 years of age, be an early stage brand and not yet widely distributed.

Be able to attend the program in its entirety, six months, Jan to June. Be prepared to share more about your brand, submit a short video and potentially provide product samples. How you can apply, you can go to sephoraaccelerate. com And click the apply now button and start your application process right away. How do they select?

The major points Sephora looks at during selection include vision: the passion for making your business successful Innovation: what sets your brand or product apart?

What unique offerings do you bring to the clients? Quite simply. What is your differentiation? Product: you should have a working prototype that has been iterated on at least once meaning you have Iterated based on user feedback at least once

You should also have proven interest in your product, sales, customers, etc. Brands will be notified via email about their selection status. Guarantees, there are no guarantees. All brands who complete the incubation program have some likelihood of being launched with Sephora. However, there’s no guarantee.

Having said that, I’ve personally spoken to quite a few Sephora Accelerate alumni who, if I remember right, did not receive funding nor placement at the retailer. In Ulta’s case, they do get funding of $50, 000,

that’s a guarantee, but placement is not a guarantee even there.

Let’s move on to Target Beauty Accelerator Takeoff. Target Takeoff is an accelerated program designed with a clear focus in mind to prepare mature CPG, consumer packaged goods companies for long term success in mass retail.

So you see the Ulta’s and Sephora were more for specialty. The program aims to empower these businesses by helping them understand key growth elements, solidify their brand identity, and extend their capabilities to scale. It’s not just about learning. Target takeoff is about creating powerful connections with industry.

So you will create amazing powerful connections with other disruptive founders, peers, and target team members. So what do they offer? What does target takeoff offer? They claim to offer unmatched mentorship. You’ll receive one on one coaching, learn from industry leaders, and gather insights from Target executives.

So pretty much Same like Ulta and Sephora, they have mentors. Here, they’re calling it coaching, which is like one on one. It’s like having an all access pass to a wellspring of industry knowledge and experience. They offer collaborative learning. The learning experience is enhanced by the collaborative environment of the program where you get to grow with and learn from each other passionate CPG entrepreneurs at a similar stage.

This is similar to others. I’m pretty sure collaboration happens there too. People form networks, connections.

It’s more like a mini MBA is what they claim. The comprehensive coursework is like an MBA but in retail, covering everything from marketing and packaging to supply chain management. It’s a holistic learning experience designed to equip you with all the knowledge and skills you need to succeed in mass retail.

So you see the objective is success at mass retail. That’s why they look at mature CPG brands.

Has two programs, Forward Founders, ideal for early stage CPG companies aiming to become retail ready. Participants receive personalized feedback from a Target buyer in a retail action plan, a week by week guided plan on preparing for retail. Takeoff is designed for more mature companies. So we were talking about Takeoff, but there’s another program here as Forward Founders, which is not as, spoken of, advertised, and it’s not their biggest program.

Takeoff is where the biggest buzz is, which is designed for more mature companies, ready to scale into mass retail, and which is where Target has expertise in, right? By the end of the program, participants will understand the key requirements for mass retail growth, obviously connections, and how to create a solid retail pitch.

Curriculum. Target Takeoff curriculum is a comprehensive retail bootcamp. Like I said, it’s an MBA in retail they also declare their weekly curriculum which goes as follows.

Week one- is intro to Target get acquainted with the ins and outs of Target, the corner store for your upcoming journey. Week two- brand strategy and marketing, pretty much like the others, delve into the strategic planning and marketing strategies.

Week three: manufacturing, transportation and logistics. Gain an understanding of supply chain. Week four: building teams and amplifying advocates. Learn how to build a strong team and create a network of brand advocates. Week five: funding your growth. Explore ways to fund your business expansion and growth strategies.

Week six: pitch event, the grand finale, where you get to showcase your brand and business plan to target team members and external partners. So it’s a six week program. Schedule for Target Takeoff is designed with a category specific focus. The sessions are held from Monday To Friday, starting at 9am and ending at 1pm central time.

You should be prepared to dedicate about 10 to 15 hours per week to fully participate and benefit from the program. So like I said, duration six week virtual accelerator program.

Funding: the program is completely free for accepted participants. In fact, each company is given a $5, 000 stipend. The program is free for the others too.

And here each brand gets a $5, 000 stipend. This extra financial boost can be a bit of a help, even though it’s not as close to $50, 000 that Ulta’s gives, which I think is a very decent amount. Eligibility criteria: only 10 companies get a chance to be a part of each cohort. Every company can have two reps with one mandatory founder participation.

It’s compulsory for at least one team member to attend all sessions throughout the six week program. All applicants should be over 18 years of age. Only registered entities like LLC, B Corp, S Corp, et cetera, eligible. Sole proprietorships, unfortunately don’t make the cut. Companies must have a product in the market.

Your company should have a CPG business already doing well on a small scale and ready to take on the mass retail market. So it’s not exclusively for beauty brands. Your product should have made some waves in the market with some evidence of social media engagement, revenue growth. And a growing customer base.

And of course, there’ll be when they evaluate, they will, there’ll be nuances within these. How can you apply?

The application for Target Accelerator usually opens in the autumn of the year and closes by the year end. To stay updated, enter your business details at and get notifications as soon as the process begins. How do they select? Once the application window closes, selected applicants are invited for a virtual interview with a panel, but not everyone gets an interview call.

Obviously the final selection is based on the potential of the team, product assortment. Innovation pipeline and possible growth. Guarantees: meeting all the eligibility requirements does not assure a place in the target accelerator program. So that is the first thing. And being a part of the program doesn’t guarantee a business relationship with target.

That’s the second. Obviously it doesn’t guarantee your funding, doesn’t guarantee you a placement at target retail stores. Notable brand alumni, 4MASS, 50 Hertz, Sichuan, Pepper, a little more zest, Adwoa Beauty, pretty popular these days.

Now let’s come to Jump Accelerator, which is founded by yours truly, based out of Toronto. Jump offers profitable growth to women- led early- stage beauty brands with a fit and fully executable solution using first principles.

Which are based on fundamentals of science and emotion. Jump works with pre-seed, seed and early- stage beauty brands.

Let’s see, when you jump with us, what do you get on the way up?

So JUMP offers basic and advanced collaborative solutions. And what do I mean by that? So we start with a strategic review, every innovation on the planet, every new idea that enters, whether in beauty or outside follows a certain path to success. And there are metrics and drivers in that path. And we will evaluate your beauty brand first on innovation, adoption, trial, awareness, your strategy, positioning, how distinct you are, what is the loyalty percentage you have, with qualitative and quantitative matrix and then craft a fit.

And fully executable solution for you where there are three Basic Jumps, :

the First is Jump Pad, where we create a brand strategy, positioning to put it very simply and plainly, for your beauty brand to become the talk of the town and where it is positioned to succeed both with the early stage,

early adopters as well as mainstream consumers. Then the Second Jump, the Basic Jump is Jump in Love at First Sight, which is all about creating a story for emotional resonance at every touch point. The Third Basic Jump is Jumpstarting your Tribe, which is about creating a Tribe Strategy. Identifying, finding and leveraging six X profitable superfans.

And then there are Advanced Jumps.

How do you succeed at omni channel retail, which is Jump market? How do you move your products from the shelf? How do you get inside the retailers and move out? Moving out is 95 percent of the job. Then how do you secure funding? How do you get funding ready? How do you pitch to the investors and what needs to happen before you need to go and start pitching to the investors?

Then it’s about Jump Cash and Profitability, how to create a great cashflow and create profitability even while growing. I always say revenue is cool, cash is the fuel and profit is the goal. And then we have Jump Culture, which is all about employees, teams, instilling discipline in the organization, et cetera, et cetera, your vision, purpose, Values,

What is Jump schedule? We have an ongoing enrollment to all the collaborative solutions. How is a collaborative solution different? See consultants sell slides. Everything works on PowerPoint.

The accelerators, I told you above, all of them are, all they are doing is mentoring you and coaching you. But the devil lies in the details. That’s why Jump Solution is fully executable. And we have this collaborative solution where we work with the founders or their marketing team leaders or their business leaders, their president, CEOs, more often than not, it’s the founder because we try to focus on brands that are doing less than $10 million between one to $5 million is the early stage. Even though we work with brands that do half a million dollars, a hundred K, sometimes even before launch, but we work very closely with the founders. And we have all the collaborative solutions, where we are involved in creating that solution. The final responsibility, the buck stops with us.

So it’s not that we are just giving courses. People are watching online courses and you pay quite a few thousand dollars, only in the end to realize that, you got to still do the work and which is fine, but there’s no one to correct, edit and tell you that this is not there yet.

And what do I look for? I look for driven founders of pre- seed, seed and early stage beauty brands who have the vision to elevate the category, who are really committed and they are hungry for making a difference and they are open to listening and changing. They should be open to changing themselves, changing their mindset, evolving their mindset rather than just changing randomly before they decide to change the world.

How you can apply? You can go to and you can book a discovery call with me. You could even do a free online course to get a sense of what the collaborative solutions will be.

The free online course is just a free course. It’s not a collaborative solution, but you’ll get a sense of. And we select women- led early- stage beauty brands based on their openness to listening, their goals, relevance, and impact on their brand idea. Do we give any guarantees? We stand firmly behind our program.

I stand firmly behind my program, any program, and we give 100 percent guarantee of results. And if you’re not happy with the program, we will reimburse you the entire amount.

To summarize, we’ve got four big players in the beauty accelerator world. Ulta’s Muse Accelerator, Sephora Accelerate, Targets Take Off and the Jump Accelerator, which is the only accelerator that offers profitable growth to women- led early- stage beauty brands with a fit. If we do your strategic review, it doesn’t mean that you have to do everything.

It’s fully executable step by step.

Ulta’s Muse is all in for championing founders of color, serving up mentorship, training, and a cool 50 grand to get a brand off the ground. Sephora Accelerate bets on founders who are people of color too their program packs in a lot of learning and networking opportunities over six months. That’s the longest program and imagine this you could even get to launch with Sephora. But there are no guarantees.

Target Takeoff sets its sights on helping consumer packaged goods companies scale up. They do have Forward Founders, which is for early stage, but they’re mainly focused on getting you ready for mass retail.

Jump Accelerator, like I said before, is the only accelerator that serves women- led early- stage beauty brands with a fit, your custom fit, and fully executable solution using first principles of science and emotion.

Fit means what? You are approached by an SEO firm, digital marketing, social media, copywriting, getting inside a retailer, doing shopper marketing, et cetera, influencers, all of those will help you a little bit here and there. But for an early stage beauty brand that has not even crossed $5 million, your base is so small that any solution in isolation is not going to do you that good.

You might get a little bit of blip in sales, but you need to do fundamentals, right? And you need a fit solution which identifies in advance the complete roadmap. How will you, how, what does a coach know that the player does not? The coach coach knows the end game, the entire roadmap that you need to succeed.

Now, these accelerators also can tell you, but the thing is, they won’t build it with you step by step. We build it with you. That’s Jump’s differentiation. And that’s where Jump is a Jump ahead of all the other accelerators.

Thank you. Do one thing, go to my site and there’s an article which I’ve written on comparing these accelerators. So you can go in, because this is audio format, you might not remember everything. You can go and look for yourself, which accelerator is the right fit for you there’s a table of comparison, et cetera.

You could even download that table if it allows you, or you can screenshot or whatever and have it with you.

  Thank you for listening. Don’t forget to subscribe to this What Beauty Founders Don’t Know podcast for amazing guests and insights on growing your beauty brand. Visit jumpaccelerator. com and take the quiz to find out how ready you are to make the jump to 20 to 50 million plus dollars. And above all, don’t miss out on your free online course, taken by hundreds of successful beauty founders.

Sign up for your free online course now. Till the next episode!

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