Home Agencies OMG’s Katelman On What Is A Startup?

OMG’s Katelman On What Is A Startup?


startupSteve Katelman, EVP, Omnicom Media Group. took a slightly different tack with our round-up question on “When Is A Startup No Longer A Startup?” From his agency perch, Katelman opted for defining the startup.

The “startup” company became famous in the late nineties during the dot.com boom/bust, and even though those days are long behind us, the “startup” still exists all over world today. They are depicted as romantic dorm-like cultures that are fueled by capital, endless energy drinks, office foosball tournaments and grandiose visions of stock options.

But what, really, is a startup? A startup is new company with a distinct scalable idea that creates concise value in the marketplace.

In the arena of ad-tech, it is rare that I see a true startup. (Did I say that out loud?) I see lots of companies that add a bit of incremental value to a system in need of an overhaul, and then made scalable through the expansive available impressions marketplace.

So what’s the disconnect?

1) Most “startups” are built within the same framework.

A common set of banners, boxes, and inventory constrain most ideas. But a true startup requires disruption and new ideas. Rinsing and repeating the same old “stuff” is not new or interesting. And more so, it simply doesn’t deliver value.

2) Ideas are sacrificed by systems of margin and distribution.

With technology scale models leading the ad tech investment conversation, a large group of companies I see deliver minimal value to customers. They focus more on creating scalable investor value through media.

True startups slow down. They focus on finding a niche that creates scalable value through a product idea that remains meaningful to the customer ecosystem it serves.

So when is a startup really a startup? When they are built on these two concepts:


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Ideas that disrupt through product.

Value exchange that drive venture and scale.

And for the record, I have mad foosball skills. (I’m from Nebraska)

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