J RAO
“I wanted to connect with other business founders who were beginning their start-up journey and take part in a structured program to keep me on track. I was also really attracted by the idea of rapid prototyping in a supportive space and gaining an insight into other people’s experiences. The workshops were really useful, particularly around pitching my business idea.”

DR. JENNIFER RAO-WILLIAMS J-RAO CONTEMPORARY APOTHECARY

Spending almost a decade researching and teaching topics including sustainable development, climate change and human geography, Dr Jennifer Rao-Williams has a deep understanding of the negative impact of non-environmentally conscious product development. While completing her PhD at the University of Dundee in 2017, Jennifer decided to utilise her environmental expertise to develop an ambitious retail business, and J-RAO Contemporary Apothecary was born.

Jennifer’s mission was clear from the outset: to develop a range of luxury products which would buck the trend in an often unsustainable, unethical cosmetics industry. However, she quickly grasped that in order to realise the potential of her environmentally conscious apothecary range, she would need some expert business advice. After engaging with Business Gateway, Jennifer was recommended to join Elevator’s 12-week Dundee Accelerator where she could further develop her products, connect with experienced intellectual property advisers and improve her business pitch.

Commenting, she said: “I wanted to connect with other business founders who were beginning their start-up journey and take part in a structured program to keep me on track. I was also really attracted by the idea of rapid prototyping in a supportive space and gaining an insight into other people’s experiences. The workshops were really useful, particularly around pitching my business idea.”

Following the successful completion of the accelerator, Jennifer has achieved a number of personal and business firsts:

  • Working with the Soil Association to achieve COSMOS (Cosmetic Organic and Natural Standard) accreditation
  • Developed 100% reusable packaging for her product range
  • Granted a By Design Award from Scottish Enterprise, which has enabled her to work with award-winning design agency Jarvie-Design on further developing her brand
  • Online launch of J-RAO Contemporary Apothecary’s product range, which received overwhelmingly positive feedback

“We have had some really great customer testimonies and were recently featured in the Courier 'beautiful selection of vegan-friendly skincare products'. Our focus is now on building our brand, and we are fortunate to have ongoing support from the Accelerator team, including access to a range of advisers who have continued to offer their guidance and expertise,” concluded Jennifer.