Three years after its creation, what are the results for Obratori, L’Occitane’s startup studio?

Follow promising young companies and, who knows, see the birth of potential partners for the L’Occitane group. Get one more connection to Marseille, a city facing the Mediterranean, with a dynamic ecosystem but less saturated than the capital. But also forging links with research by settling in a place like the City of Knowledge and Innovation in Aix-Marseille to be at the forefront of innovation and new market trends.

These are all the arguments that fueled the design of Obratori, the start-up studio of the L’Occitane group that opened in 2019.

Its target: innovative startups in the field of cosmetics, retail and more broadly well-being and even health, with a sensitivity to environmental issues. Startups in which the startup studio invests through a venture capital fund, with an average ticket between 100,000 and 250,000 euros. ” These are not astronomical amounts, but they allow the launch of these young companies that also turn to other investors. Then, very quickly, they manage to raise up to €1 million during their first funding round. “, notes Amaury Godron, CEO of Obratori.

Financial support along with 23 months of support provided by four employees. ” But, as we are minority shareholders, we continue to be present beyond that period. “.

13 startups supported and 69 jobs created

In operation since September 2018, Obratori supported a total of 13 startups, all of which are still in operation. ” Generally speaking, the first year of a startup’s life is a valley of death. But here, despite the covid and the confinements, none fell “. The follow-up offered is certainly not for nothing. Although Amaury Godron also highlights the various support mechanisms implemented by the State or the Southern Region.

In total, these 13 startups generated the creation of 69 jobs. And they work in several fields: cosmetics, of course, like Rouge Français, a company born in Hauts-de-Seine that installed its research and development here, taking advantage of the prototyping laboratory there; and which cooperates with researchers from the Timone hospital. But so is health, whether using digital technology to reduce the effects of medical desertification (Healphi) or relying on health research for anti-aging cosmetic applications (Calysens).

There are also food startups like Bocoloco, a specialist in waste-free online shopping. Or even the premium gin offered by the Charente-based company Melifera.

These various sectors are linked to L’Occitane’s activity. When it comes to health, there are synergies with cosmetics. Bocoloco, on the other hand, is working on recycling pots, which can help us meet the demand of the group’s customers. And as for Melifera, it is a company founded by a former employee of Occitane and that manufactures in France a gin based on immortelle, a plant that gave the group one of its greatest successes. “.

And the start-up studio has just welcomed three start-ups that further expand the spectrum of activities covered: Lolo Paris in lingerie, Mon Suivi Diet in nutrition and In Hair Care in hairdressing.

Looking for nuggets in digital and packaging

However, two major themes remain that have not yet been sufficiently addressed according to Amaury Godron. ” We are struggling to find nuggets in the packaging industry. Whether designing new materials, replacing plastic… Just like digital. While L’Occitane uses a lot of digital tools. Even in-store to improve the customer experience.”

Increasingly popular with young people looking for support, the startup studio is forced to turn down a large number of them. ” In 2021, our acceptance rate was 1% “. So, despite having a dozen projects supported each year, it is a little below that goal.” We are very selective, but we would like to accelerate and reach this milestone of 10 startups a year. All that’s left is to find the right projects, carried out by the right teams. “.

Finally, Obratori intends to continue the relations started with the world of research. ” Our presence here, inside Cisam (the City of innovation and knowledge from the Editor’s note of Aix-Marseille), allowed us to build bridges with certain researchers. University of Aix-Marseille students, PhD students, lead projects and theses in connection with our startups that need their skills and sometimes also research labs “. Enabling L’Occitane to be part of this local ecosystem conducive to innovation. Where public research and business work together to build solutions to tomorrow’s key challenges.