**This article was first published on The Drum**
Last January Collider welcomed nine new Marketing and Ad tech (or Madtech) startups into our family. These nascent businesses had global ambitions to help brands solve big problems around engaging with their customers. They joined the Collider Accelerator because we could give them access to some of the biggest brands in the UK including: BBC, Camelot, Unilever, Unruly and William Hill.
Over the past 12 months, their ideas have been work-shopped, torture-tested and grilled by some of the most senior marketing people in the UK. These people know their market and they know what they need to help solve some big problems. And it worked. 23 contracts were signed after seven months between our 2014 startups with the likes of Unilever and BBC Worldwide.
This access and approach means that the founders build products brands actually want to buy as they are solving real world problems, rather than just the sigh inducing gimmicks or features that I am sure you see every day.
This process is obviously rewarding for the startups, but crucial is the value these interactions bring to our partner brands and agencies.
Big data, mobile and social advocacy are providing new, sometimes unexplored, ways for brands to communicate with consumers Brands must adopt innovative practices to stay up to date. Innovation at the quickest pace is happening in the startups’ worlds – and brands know this. Instead of waiting for new technology and innovation to come to them through the traditional agency routeour brand partners are creating direct relationships; speeding up their buying process and disrupting the marketing services value chain.
At Collider, marketers have the opportunity to work with around ten startups. And I mean really work with them. Senior executives get heavily involved by helping the founders shape their products; suggesting new or better product sets that would help sell the product, and of course, providing marketing and branding tips to ensure commercial deals get done.
Brands also know they need to be better at choosing the right company to work with; be excellent at integrating these new technologies more quickly into their businesses; and even work out which ones are not worth the time. By working closely with a number with startups, these senior professionals gain the necessary skills to spot the right kind of innovation for their businesses at the right time. The marketing leaders of the future will be the ones able to do this more quickly and efficiently than anyone else. In short: we believe we are arming them and their organisations to lead in the future as they learn to behave like our startups.
And for the first time some of the biggest agencies in the advertising world. , such as Ogilvy Group UK, The Engine group and Havas, are joining the Collider family in 2015. They see the value in working with startups – to help drive innovation in their business services and strategies, as well as for clients.
To stay ahead of the game, our partner brands know that they need to embrace innovation. That means working with startups.- not just once or twice,- but all of the time. So will 2015 be the year we see brands firmly look to startups to help with their innovation and keep up with their consumers? At Collider we certainly hope so.