Procter Gamble (NYSE: PG), a company renowned for building billion-dollar brands with global reach, is making a savvy move to pay its profits forward. PG is investing its resources and expertise in early-stage female-led companies.
Attention female entrepreneurs: If you’ve got a groundbreaking business idea, step up and introduce yourself to the woman with undoubtedly the most fascinating job in all of corporate America. Betsy Bluestone is the commercial discovery leader of PG Ventures.
“I’m a scout,” says Bluestone, with a warm humility that you wouldn’t expect from someone leading a team of razor-sharp executives on a deliberate, female-business-sourcing mission. Bluestone has dedicated her career to helping PG innovate faster and better. That now means supporting women entrepreneurs who are not getting the funding they need.
Fostering women‘s ingenuity is a logical evolution for a company that’s spent the last 180 years predicting, mastering, and delivering what women need and want. Today, what women need and want more than anything is backing. Only 2.2% of venture capital funds are going to female-founded businesses, and yet, companies led by women perform 63% better than all-male teams. For a company that’s using its marketing might to drive culture towards greater diversity and gender equality, it’s a win-win.
Bluestone reports that PG has so far invested over a billion dollars in women-owned ventures. The strategy is authentic for PG. “We’ve learned that the more we reflect the diversity of the world in our own company, the better we can understand people’s ne, and the better we can improve their lives,” says Bluestone.
PG’s internal startup studio is designed to combine PG wisdom with the agility of the entrepreneur. The venture provides access to the company‘s experts in everything from supply chain to global distribution to retail strategy. “Our objective is to discover and build billion-dollar brands for PG,” Bluestone says, “and we’re really good at scaling businesses.”
PG has always had an uncanny ability to predict where consumers and markets are going. Now, the company is looking to ignite broader innovation in a range of strategic consumer categories. “Everything starts with the consumer – who is consuming, how will they be consuming?” says Bluestone. “What are the tensions and pain points – how can we solve these problems?”
PG has set its sights on several strategic consumer categories, including sleep, menopause, pain, aging, male wellness, personal performance, medicated skin, and non-toxic home. “We’re in search of possibilities that we might never have imagined,” says Bluestone, whose stresses that “we’re looking for female inventors and leaders doing breakthrough work.”
PG Ventures is jumpstarting its deal flow by partnering with a high-impact capital platform that shares the mission to close the gender-based funding gap for female entrepreneurs. The Vinetta Project is helping PG discover and vet early-stage female-led companies poised to make life better for consumers. When it is appropriate, Vinetta coaches entrepreneurs with strategies for pivoting in the right direction to appeal to PG. To date, Vinetta has over 4,500 female founders in its database and never stops searching for more women-run startups to support and cultivate.
Together, these two venture partners created a year-long program that leads selected entrepreneurs through a series of unique mentoring opportunities. For instance, a powerful “problem hacking” course pairs standout founders with seasoned PG executives in a 3-month process designed to solve issues critical to accelerating the business. The program also includes exclusive dinners and pitch events that provide introductions to investors and operators with the prestige to supercharge the trajectory of these startups.
“It’s vital that women in these multi-billion-dollar corporations support the external organizations they believe in,” says Vanessa Dawson, founder, and CEO of The Vinetta Project. “It’s a relationship-driven industry, and I’m excited to work alongside powerhouse women like Betsy who see the bottom-line value in developing strong diversity pipelines in all stages of the business.”
“I have tremendous pride in my company,” says Bluestone, who emphasizes that PG Venture’s goal is to be mutually beneficial to the entrepreneur and PG’s business. “We can be a force for good and a force for growth.”