It is with great excitement and anticipation that I can share my latest venture: it's called Evol8tion - pronounced Evolootion as in Evolution, but with an "8" which represents infinity (or two "o" 's on their side). You get the drift...
Evol8tion is an innovation agency that puts brands back in control by reverse engineering the startup to create technology solutions to business problems. Let me explain:
Innovation Agency = Innovation is typically associated with product development and packaging, but not marketing itself. The traditional agency has morphed into the digital and social agency. Innovation is the next evolution. Evol8tion is an agent on behalf of its clients (the brands) as well as an agent in the classical sense i.e. that represents the startup community.
Put Brands Back in Control = Brands have had to resort to “renting space” via middlemen in the form of paid media. We believe that brands can move from being media dependent to media discerning, i.e. become owners or even landlords in the world of impressions, attention, time spent and engagement.
Reverse Engineering the Startup = Our mantra of “startups for brands” is essentially an attempt to reverse engineer the startup from the brand backwards i.e. begin with the brand challenge and consumer insight and then work backwards into funding (via brands) and development.
Technology Solutions to Business Problems = There are too many solutions to non-existent problems or tactics in search of strategy. A branded startup needs to address a brief and ultimately deliver against a key marketing (brand health, brand love, preference, loyalty, advocacy) or business (market share, revenue, sales, profitability) KPI.
Put slightly differently: we match early stage startups to blue chip brands to partner via mentoring, pilot programs and/or investment (way under 140 characters, so there!)
Here's a video which explains in a little more detail about the "startups for brands" positioning:
There's way too much to say in a single blog post, so here are the highlights - and they are highlights:
- Joining me in this journey are Sam Huxley and Gina Waldhorn. Sam is ex-New Media Strategies and Y&R and more importantly, he's one of the smartest strategic veterans in the digital space. Plus he's a fellow scotch-loving mad-scientist. Gina is an angel (not investor, but worth more to me) and a thousand thanks to Sarah Fay for introducing her to me. She comes via Carat and Maxus.
- Credibility is so important, especially at the nascent stages of a startup. And when it comes to talking about blue chip brands, you don't get better than Kraft Foods and Anheuser-Busch InBev, who join Evol8tion as founding clients. I can't wait to see what we'll do together...
- We're launching a thought leadership platform and community hub called "Madison & Mountain View." The first iteration is a Tumblr-powered site which you can find here and follow via @mplusmv (what's up, Ashton?) M+MV celebrates the fusion between advertising and technology. M+MV is an independent hub and so if you want to contribute just shoot us a note
- Evol8tion's first branded product is called MatchMaker, which - with a nod to Fiddler on the Roof - will help viable startups find their brand soul mate.
- From time to time, Evol8tion will take a special interest in a particular idea(s). To kick things off, we'll be working closely with TrashCanKidz and Tunespotter to help get them to the next level and explore particular connections with carefully selected brands.
The bottom line is that we see tremendous opportunity in connecting two worlds that - until now - have not naturally come together. Our vision is to swim far upstream through early stage participation with early stage startups.
We think there is significant upside, considering something like 97% of startups never get funded. Perhaps it's just because they never met their brand soul mate <3
So that's it for now. I invite you to:
- Visit our website (www.startupsforbrands.com)
- Ask the Evol8tion 8-ball a question or two
- Browse our vision deck using the very cool Greener Mags platform
- Follow us on Twitter (@evol8tion)
- Check out Madison & Mountain View (www.madisonandmountainview.com) and @mplusmv
- Download our press release - Download Evol8tion Press Release
- Check out our videos
...and on the 24th only...we're hanging out in a Google + hangout if you want to chat during the day (you'll need to add the page to your circles)
P.S. Just realized that I founded crayon, sold crayon, launched Evol8tion and celebrate my birthday on the same day (the 24th). I had better head for the casino to bet on black...
P.P.S. Mad props to Grant Lyons and Will Cameron for all their help on our visual identity
It's time to evolve...