Did Anyone Order a Startup?

The traditional client-agency/consultancy relationship, which has been in place since the dawn of the marketing industry, has many benefits. It makes for a manageable and controlled relationship, where the client provides a brief, and the agency executes. It works well for campaign based activities as well as predetermined and/or finite projects.

But what if your challenge is to go through a Digital Transformation? Or you want to inject new technology into your brand and product line-up, but you’re not sure if you should approach it through marketing, product/service development or something else? It could be that you want to add new services or products to your line-up. Or perhaps you see all the opportunities the digital economy offers, but you struggle to find a way to incorporate it into your brand and organisation?

Thankfully, there are a range of other options in terms of developing a strategic partnership with a Digital Transformation company. There’s the consultancy model, where you work closely with a partner on a strategic development and implementation project, there’s the integration model, where you have one partner who works as the integrator for all the other partners, there’s the in-source model, where you have the strategy team come and work integrated in your department for a defined time period and then there’s the one I will cover here: The Startup Model aka a co-creation model.

Everyone wants to add the entrepreneurial spirit to their company, but no one wants to compromise on what the brand stands for, and certainly not risk the company’s capital on a risky project. So what if you could have your own startup within the company without having to spend all your internal resources on concept, strategy, staff and even markets? What if that was all handled by a virtual startup inside your existing company? Sounds interesting, no? Well, this is something that can be easily implemented. It’s a cost efficient approach, and it allows for new technologies, products, services and ideas to be put into place, without taking the focus of the company away from the core business. And without having to raise capital, recruit specialists or even have a team leader.

So how does this bespoke startup work? Well, it’s almost like a reverse incubator or a company within a company, where the startup is given the free rein of an entrepreneur, but is still nurtured and supported by the parent company. The startup is operated by a third party group, tasked to solve a specific challenge, and sits outside the corporate offices (or at least not co-located with HQ and/or marketing). All output would be owned by the brand, so no discussions about ownership is necessary. Depending on the needs, it could either be set up to implement an existing concept, or to develop strategies, concepts and implementation tactics from scratch. The startup would deal with all aspects of the development and implementation from strategy and inception to technical specifications and build to business integration and marketing. As the owner (or client, if you will), the company acts as the board of directors (not necessarily in the technical sense, as there doesn’t have to be a separate incorporation), and has the final say in all decisions – financials, strategy, idea, naming marketing/branding etc. But the everyday operation of the concept is handled autonomously by the startup. The startup should ideally include at least one internal resource from the company. Someone who is familiar with the brand values and culture of the mothership. Finally, there would be strategy, technical, creative and project management resources who work together to develop the concept into a fully operational product/service/business/marketing service.

The startup follows lean startup principles, with decision gates, budget focus and low overhead. The process is developed specifically for each startup, but includes goal development, problem definition, idea harvesting, “product” development, implementation planning and execution. The startup works as much like a startup as possible, but will not need to focus on funding in the same way normal startups do. That leaves more time for conceptual thinking and even stronger focus on output. The startup needs to have enough time to fully test and potentially implement, and need somewhat predictable operating conditions. Apart from that, it operates just like a startup.

By using a Digital Transformation partner to develop the concept, you are not paying for “dead time”, as your startup partner will work on other projects as well and you will have reduced cost for admin. It’s really the best of both worlds.

Acoustic is now adding a co-creation model to our offering. We call it Acoustic Injection. If your company is looking to create a new business area, a new product or a new service offering, we are here to help. Call us on 8420 9200 or send us an email at info@acoustic.group, and we’ll get back to you immediately.

Erik Ingvoldstad is the Founder & CEO of Acoustic.
Follow Erik on Twitter @ingvoldSTAR, follow Acoustic at @AcousticGroupSG
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[Main photo by Dennis Skley, under CC]