GroupM Launches Startup Accelerator To Simplify The Vendor Landscape

Despite ad tech consolidation, the Lumascape isn’t shrinking, and it’s tough even for agencies to help their clients find the right tech partners.

So GroupM launched a startup accelerator program on Monday to streamline that process.

GroupM will select four US-based startups to participate in the three-month mentorship program, called AdVentures, with clients including Mike’s Hard Lemonade, and Church & Dwight. The startups will work directly with clients solve a specific business challenge they’ve identified in the areas of customer experience and CRM, lifetime value modeling or dynamic creative.

“An organization as big as GroupM often has a hard time working productively with startups,” said Issah Abdul-Moomin, partner on GroupM’s global corporate development team. “We’re always looking for a better model.”

GroupM will select the companies alongside its clients this summer at a “’Shark Tank’-style day” where vendors pitch their solution and solve a business challenge presented in a specific brief.

While GroupM is looking for early-stage startups, it’s keeping the initial vetting process broad to find “out of the box, interesting and innovative solutions,” said Hana Farahat, a partner at GroupM corporate development.

In exchange for working with their clients, selected startups will receive workspace at GroupM’s New York City headquarters and weekly mentorship from executives around how to deal with legal, development and branding challenges as they scale their companies.

Involving clients in the vendor selection process helps GroupM save time on the back and forth that can happen when vendors pitch agencies rather than marketers directly. And for clients, the program offers an opportunity to test out their chemistry with different vendors and hopefully find long-term partners in an overwhelming landscape.

“A lot of startups have very interesting propositions, but ultimately were doing things on behalf of our clients,” Abdul-Moomin said. “Bringing clients in from the start, you get rid of the time wasting that can happen.”

GroupM will not take equity in the participating startups to avoid conflicts of interest with its clients. Clients also will not be required to continue working with the startup after the accelerator ends.

But as the world’s largest media buyer, GroupM is in a unique position to connect Fortune 500 brands with solutions that can solve their biggest business challenges, and support companies creating innovative solutions to those challenges.

And for GroupM, being able to help its clients find the right technology solution offers value in a market where agencies are struggling to evolve.

“There are so many companies and so much noise,” said Tim Castree, CEO of GroupM North America. “The ability to sort through all of that and pick the right partners is a whole job within itself for agencies and marketers. To have that for clients is really valuable.”

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