Archive for the ‘Start ups’ Category
11th March 13
Posted in Start ups
Author: Saneel Radia, Founder Finch15
When Ben and Mel set up BBH Labs long before I was ever given the keys here in NYC, one of its core ambitions was to birth new offerings. Well, I’m lucky to say this certainly panned out, which is exactly why I had to say goodbye.
One thing that became clear after years of conversations with clients about innovation was that many big, mature brands look upon startups with joy (and a touch of envy) as they see the culture of innovation with which they are imbued. At the same time, there are plenty of very big companies innovating at a speed and scale that no startup could ever comprehend (P&G and AmEx are two companies I find myself applauding all the time, even if the awe isn’t mutual). That’s because web innovation and product innovation are not the same thing – unless your core product is on the web. For companies that primarily create analog products, this innovation landscape can seem like a foreign land with a different language and odd custom
At the same time, more and more of these big companies are talking about their marketing outputs as assets. Thus an idea was born. These assets could provide real commercial value if they were used to create a competitive advantage in the digital space. If a brand has strong brand equity, distribution, consumer data and other “brand assets” that can help create digital businesses, that’s a well-lit path to product innovation. We created Finch15 to identify this path and guide clients down it.
In a nutshell, Finch15 creates revenue-generating digital businesses for brands. We identify market opportunities, quantify their value and determine the best way a brand can stretch profitably into that space using those precious assets. It’s a form of lateral innovation. The client stays true to their business and brand, but we help move them into a new, digital category. We mitigate the risk of this effort by ensuring whatever we do is good for the brand. So, if things don’t pan out, they have a self-funded marketing effort. If they do, they have a completely new source of revenue in what is likely a fast-growth market.
We certainly aren’t the first to pursue this, and hope we aren’t the last. In our effort, we aspired to create a unique mix of marketing, investment banking and tech talent that gives us a chance to create innovative, successful businesses for our clients. Yes, we do have clients. And no, we aren’t telling yet (you’ll see them when the businesses launch).
It’s exciting to found a company birthed at BBH Labs and incubated at VivaKi. VivaKi’s network of tech, media and strategy talent is a huge resource for a small startup. We couldn’t be more excited. I’m especially honored they’re letting me serve the concurrent role of EVP, Product Innovation for them. I get to work with VivaKi clients across the globe and actually talk to those very innovative companies accomplishing things at a scale few others can imagine.
Wish us luck. Or just “ooo” and “ahhh” at the dynamic logo Tim, Victor, Lasse and other BBH Labs members created here.
2nd September 11
Posted in Start ups
The BBH Labs team had a chance to attend Dave McClure’s 500 Startups NYC Demo at General Assembly this week. Dave is a Super Angel who has invested in startups like Mint.com and Twilio. The room was packed with enthusiastic entrepreneurs, inventors, geeks, developers, cooks, fashion hounds, drunks, Bloggers and investors waiting to get a glimpse into the freshly born companies.
During the course of the evening we learned some new lingo that 500 Startups seems to use for all ventures:
Advisory Round – All the startups had an advisory round of funding. These rounds were typically under $150k
Double Down – This is a focus on a target audience, occasion or time of year when the startup will win
Angelist – The website that houses all startups and makes it easy for angel investors to get information on founders and concepts
Cobra High-Five – A celebratory hand gesture between two people simultaneously that mixes a normal high-five and moving your arm and hand in cobra-like motion
Every idea was impressive in its own right. At BBH Labs we tend to like ideas that fix fundamental human problems in innovate ways. Venture Beat did a great write up on all the ideas but here are a few that we would like to highlight:
DailyAisle: Reinvent the wedding planning process
The DailyAisle is the Kayak of wedding planning. You can search for venues, photographers, DJ’s for a wedding by budget, dates and the like. Daily Aisle takes a 10 percent reservation fee for each wedding venue booked through the site. They currently only serve the San Francisco area but we expect to see them in towns across the States soon.
Ovia: Reinvent the interview process
Ovia is an online video interviewing service. Job candidates record un-rehearsed answers to questions using their webcam and then ship the video over to a human resources provider. The candidates are all asked the same questions in the same manner. Recruiters can then watch and evaluate candidate responses. OVIA Presentation
Skipola: Reinvent the restaurant phone order
Skipola is a service that calls a restaurant for you when you want to order something. Less than 10% of restaurants have online ordering. Restaurants can also use the iPad app to retrieve the orders in a “ticket” like manner. Skipola Presentation
StoryTree: Reinvent the family bible
StoryTree is an online site that keeps track of a family’s significant moments — like a baby’s first steps or the death of a loved one. You record videos and add photos to build out a “tree.” Social Networks are in the moment and StoryTree makes the moment last. Storytree Presentation
Which of these startups do you like most? What other startups are you following? We want to hear from you.
29th March 11
Author: Adam Arnold, Partner, BBH
Today sees the launch of The Black Sheep Fund – which we believe is the first venture capital fund of its kind. It is a venture between Zag (BBH’s brand invention business) and Spark Ventures – the London based VCs that backed start up phenomena including lastminute.com, Kobalt Music, notonthehighstreet.com and Moshi Monsters.
The background is increasingly obvious: There is a dearth of seed funds for start ups. If things feel tighter than they used to be in the States – then it is ten times harder to raise money in Europe right now. The banks demand personal guarantees for business loans (!), and institutions are incredibly risk averse. If you are proven entrepreneur with a string of successful exits under your belt, then you will get by. But if you are young, hungry and full of belief in your big idea – you might well get nowhere. The thing we spotted was that the next big digital business is just as likely to come from new entrepreneurs – and that is why we set up this fund.
The premise is simple: We offer a unique cocktail of business building and brand building in one investment package. All VC’s invest cash and sit on boards. Our fund will do this plus it will help to ensure the business captures the imaginations and loyalties of consumers too. We call it ‘creative capital’. We aim to invest this creative capital in businesses that intersect consumers, technology and content. Examples would include smart new social tools, disruptive e-retailing concepts or contagious GPS games. The portfolio will be broad so long as the role of the brand is business critical. The Fund was announced today in the Financial Times, and we already have our foundation funds in place. Over the next quarter we will be meeting prospective start ups and raising the rest of the fund – targeting £10m GBP.
The invitation is open: If you or anyone you know is currently sitting on a great start up idea that they plan to take to market – then do consider the Black Sheep Fund on your short list of VC’s. We are primarily a UK based fund, but we are idea led – and a good enough idea with the right management could be invested in overseas. And, if you are an angel, with a growing desire to re-enter or join in the start up scene, then do get in touch for more information. The fund will qualify as an Enterprise Incentive Scheme (EIS) – which the UK government made increasingly attractive in the Budget last week.
Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more on the Black Sheep Fund, BBH and Spark Ventures: