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April 12, 2021 30 min

As a founder of 1871 in Chicago, one of the largest incubators in the world, I'm often on the lookout for hybrid business acceleration platforms, and recently found one that looks like a rollup with an incubator on the side! On this episode of the Reboot Chronicles, I caught up with Chris Hobson, CEO of Rare Beauty Brands, who helps high-growth indie brands scale innovation, product and channel development—while empowering founders with access to new markets, funding, personnel, and highly relevant industry mentorship.

Dancing with Startups

In recent years, the indie beauty boom has presented a challenge to cosmetic conglomerates like Sephora, forcing them to rely on both partnering with and incubating beauty brands. Similarly, to grow at scale, indie beauty brands need funding to build out their tech and logistics teams, investing in marketing, new hires, geographic expansion opportunities, and even bringing in professional-grade management. Chris and his team set out to help young brands scale indie beauty startups through their friendly partnerships with prestige retailers like Sephora, Macy's, Neiman Marcus and Ulta, to place their products online and in-store.

Secret Sauce Blend

The chemistry of having a team of people on the cutting edge of the latest industry developments and consumer trends are what sets Rare apart from the rest. Their secret formula truly lies within its team of experienced scientists, innovative R&D and marketing experts that indie brands could otherwise not access themselves. As Chris states, “Our vision is, as we grow our capabilities, we also expect to grow our staff of scientists.” Unlike other incubators, accelerators and inno-labs, Rare’s’ approach is to bring the company in and keep the young brand’s unique culture.

The company has seen success so far with its first launch, “Patchology,” and its first acquisition of “Plant Apothecary.”  They prefer to work with brands that are on a profitability track and active in the professional, direct-to-consumer and traditional retail segments, generating $500,000 to $10 million in annual revenue.

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