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Joint interview : Isabelle (isahit) & Camille (L'Oréal)

March 1, 2022
Part 1: The creation of the partnership

Can you tell us the story of your partnership and how it started?

Camille, L'Oreal:

"The story begins in 2018 when L'Oréal acquired Modiface, an AI startup based in Canada that performs virtual makeup trials and skin diagnostics based on selfies. In order to make our applications more powerful and inclusive to our users, we needed to annotate a large amount of images or selfies with great accuracy. We looked for the best data labelling partner; there were many internationally but they lacked agility and rigor.
It was at this time that a L'Oréal employee advised me to meet isahit and it was love at first sight!"

Part 2: the collaboration

How did you overcome the difficulties usually encountered by startups and large groups (number of interlocutors, long processes, long payment deadlines)?

Isabelle, isahit:

"L'Oréal is a major account that understands startup issues and especially payment needs; they set up a framework contract to facilitate payment processes. In addition, they have chosen a single contact person to facilitate exchanges. Finally, L'Oréal is a partner that shares our values, those of benevolence, transparency and fairness, and that believes in the Business For Good approach (doing business while having a positive impact on society).
For our part, we made sure to measure the social ROI of our solution by passing the B Corp certification; we also conducted an audit with an external firm specialized in social impact assessment.
In addition, we were able to meet L'Oréal's scaling needs thanks to the power of our workforce and its diversity."

Camille, L'Oreal:

"Very quickly, isahit proved to be the ideal partner thanks to its professional, agile and hyper-secure approach, not to mention the social impact the company generates with its community of HITers. We quickly scaled up and developed a long-lasting partnership in a real co-construction logic."

Have you changed your ways of working to adapt to your partner?

Isabelle, isahit:

"We didn't change our ways of working, but as the collaboration progressed, L'Oréal gave us a lot of advice and feedback that we took into consideration: setting up a test phase to control the difficulty, subjectivity and homogeneity of annotations as well as setting up metrics."

Third part: the results

Today, what is the outcome of your collaboration?

Camille, L'Oreal:

"3 years after the beginning of our collaboration, we are very happy to see that we have significantly improved the accuracy and inclusion of our skin analysis algorithms! We are also proud to have taken the gamble of working with a start-up that made us rethink the way we approach the ethics of algorithms. Finally, we are very happy to become ambassadors for isahit and to promote their solutions internally (3 other entities now work with isahit)."

Isabelle, isahit:

"On our side, working with L'Oreal has been and continues to be a real opportunity; this partnership has allowed us to create 50 jobs, expand internationally and generate + 15% in turnover. Having become our biggest customer, L'Oréal is a real reference that has also allowed us to sign three new contracts."

Would you say that together you are succeeding in making tech more inclusive?

In common: "Yes, and in different ways!"

Isabelle, isahit:

"Via the isahit community whose modus operandi is inclusive: we promote working in community (collective intelligence) which allows us to create and develop a social link between communities from the same country and from different countries. There is a real mix of cultures, languages and skills (15 different nationalities work on L'Oréal projects)."

Camille, L'Oreal:

"Thanks to isahit's work, we have rethought the way we approach the ethics of algorithms: the diversity of their community is our strength.
We are also developing together training modules for the HITers community so that they can acquire digital skills, but also prepare themselves for job interviews. Our next challenge is to create recruitment bridges. Our group HR director, Jean-Claude Legrand and his teams are mobilized."

Isabelle, isahit:

"These training courses are both on technical skills and on "soft skills": the ability to organize, work independently, communicate and all this while working remotely, via the platform. This is the future of work!
We are also trying to democratize access to the internet, which is now a basic necessity, via an aid program (Isahit Help) financed by isahit's revenues. Together we are inventing the beauty of tomorrow, more inclusive."

In your opinion, what are the keys to a successful collaboration between startups and large companies and do you have any best practices to share?

Isabelle, isahit:

"Each must take a step towards the other; for the startup to anticipate the heavy bureaucracy that falls on large groups and for large groups to simplify certain processes to save resources for startups."

Camille, L'Oreal :

"It starts by building a common ambition, win-win for everyone. And on the big group side, it then relies on communication, exchange and seeing the startup as a partner that helps invent the future with us."

And if you were to do it again, would you change anything?

Isabelle, isahit:

"Why not organize a webinar with all the AI players/stakeholders of the L'Oréal group to raise awareness about a more inclusive AI as well as find more opportunities for collaboration."

Camille, L'Oreal:

"Meet isahit earlier! "

Would you like to share the best anecdote from your collaboration?

Isabelle, isahit:

"The digital trainings given to our community by L'Oreal (on preparing for the recruitment stages and on Digital Marketing). But also the day when I called Vincent to propose to them to participate together in the "David with Goliath" contest; he had just discussed it with Camille who wanted to participate with us!"

L'Oréal and isahit are partnering to make this world a better place. By combining L'Oréal's technical expertise with isahit's social expertise, they are building a training program to help young women from disadvantaged countries find their way back into the workforce.

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