Publicis Groupe Launches Publicis90 Startup Fund

Publicis Groupe celebrates its 90th anniversary by selecting 90 digital start-ups to mentor & fund

Publicis Groupe – which was founded by Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet in 1926 – is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year. When it all started in a little Parisian apartment on Rue Montmartre, the founder’s only staff was his secretary. He would never have thought that, 90 years later, his Groupe would be one of the three largest in the world, with close to 80,000 employees.

Back then, Publicis Groupe began just like many of today’s start-ups. It is with its founder in mind, as well as the entrepreneurial spirit of so many of its employees around the world, that Publicis Groupe has chosen to celebrate its 90th anniversary by providing mentoring, support and funding to 90 entrepreneurial projects in the digital field.

To take part, projects can be submitted via the Publicis90 platform (www.publicis90.com) which will be available online as of January 18th. Whether you are a student, a new start-up, a successful entrepreneur or a Publicis Groupe employee anywhere in the world, you are welcome to put forward your idea and apply for support from the Groupe. Taking part is really easy. The goal is to provide entrepreneurs with the support they need to bring their projects to life, or to take it to the next level.

The Publicis90 platform (www.publicis90.com) will be open for submissions until February 28. Projects will be pre-selected by region (the Americas, Asia-Pacific, and Europe-Middle-East & Africa), with a first round of votes open to all Publicis Groupe employees (all projects submitted remain anonymous). A regional jury will then draw up a short-list from the pre-selected projects, before the final selection is made by a prestigious global jury that will pick the 90 most promising projects or start-ups.

The selected projects will be mentored by Publicis Groupe experts in marketing, communications, management and technology. They will also receive funding in the form of an investment ranging from 10,000 euros for projects about to be launched to 500,000 euros for start-ups that are already ramping up. As for selected projects submitted by Publicis Groupe employees, they will have the benefit of a special internal incubation scheme.

The holders of the 90 selected projects will be invited to participate to Viva Technology Paris (www.vivatechnologyparis.com), the first forum in France to bring together the people who matter most in digital throughout the world with over 5,000 start-ups. This event – created by Publicis Groupe and Groupe Les Echos – will be held from June 30 to July 2, 2016 at the Paris Expo Exhibition Centre at Porte de Versailles. The 90 selected projects will be honored at an awards ceremony held during Viva Technology Paris.

Maurice Lévy, Chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe, declared:

Publicis90 is very much in line with the philosophy of Publicis Groupe and its founder, Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet. The idea is to help young entrepreneurs achieve their goals. Not just through investment but also by putting Groupe resources at their disposal for a year. Rather than look back and pat ourselves on the back for 90 years of history, we have taken the forward-looking approach of extending a helping hand to young entrepreneurs.

6 stages of Digital Startup business

If you are reading this post, I can assume that you have an idea and you are on your way to build your startup or else you have a deep desire to build one. Don’t worry, you are not alone in your journey. Building startups seems to be the only thing on the mind of every professional.

For a long time, the venture capital world has often correlated the ability to build a successful startup with the age & experience of individuals. Not anymore.  According to a Harvard Business Review report, the average age at founding (a startup) was just over 31, and the median was 30.

 

Startup Founder Age of VC Backed Companies

Startup Founder Age of VC Backed Companies

However, age has nothing to do with the stages of startup but interestingly it can increase or decrease the duration of your pre-startup period.

Now if you search on the Google, you would find different views & opinions about the stages of startup business. Frankly speaking, none of them is incorrect. But the one which has simplified it considerably is created by StartupCommons (see below):

 

Startup Development Phases & Lifecycle

Startup Development Phases & Lifecycle

Key stages of digital startup

Stage I : Ideation

In this stage, the startup founder(s) builds, sharpens, polishes their “potential scalable product or service idea” for a big enough “target market“. There is no need for any team or resources at this stage of startup. A significant amount of time goes into the market research, collecting data about primary & secondary audience. The end outcome is a very simplified 30,000 feet business plan document that defines all the key variables about your business in a nutshell. Most importantly, at the end of this stage you should know, who would pay for your product & service & why?

Also read: How to write a business plan document by Sequoia Capital

Stage II : Concept Development

Once you are convinced about your core startup idea, the next stage is to find your core team of people whom you would want to be part of your journey. A lot of startups (especially tech startups where founders are programmers and core architects) want to keep their idea within the closed room till they get the venture fund. Usually it delays the project considerably as they end up doing a lot of non specialised tasks by themselves.

In the concept development phase, you should start creating your actual business plan with estimated financials  of budgets, possible revenue and key company milestones for the next 2-3 years. Identifying your core team and involving them in the ideation process is absolutely critical as this would set the stage for actual business roll-out.

Stage III : Commitment

This is the stage when the founders actually start building the MVP or Minimum Viable Product for the users to test their business idea. According to Techopedia:

A minimum viable product (MVP) is a development technique in which a new product or website is developed with sufficient features to satisfy early adopters. The final, complete set of features is only designed and developed after considering feedback from the product’s initial users.

In case of services business MVP, it needs to build the tools for service delivery like wireframe of CRM for customer lifecycle management and how it would be linked with an online customer acquisition and final service delivery.

An MVP is one of the most important stages in any startup business. Not just it allows the founders to calibrate their efforts & product idea, it is the stage when you can start marketing about your product/service to prospect angel investors (not VCs).  The commitment stage is also critical to define the roles of the founding team & the shareholding pattern for the first 2-3 years of business.

Most of the early stage hiring happens during this stage of startup. The team size are thin and the founders literally bootstrap it to the maximum by doing multiple roles.

Also read: How to hire for bootstrap startup?

Stage IV : Validation

‘Validation’ or ‘proof of concept’ is one of those stages of startup business where they have to live with a great degree of vulnerability, both from inside & outside. In the validation stage, founding team has to show maximum value for all stakeholders, starting from its current customers, its employees to current angel (if any) & potential investors.

In many ways, this stage decides the fate of your business idea, and hence it gives the maximum stress to the startup owners.

On one side, the founders are struggling to find the right product strategy & brand positioning that would allow them to attract potential Series A/B venture investment, and on the other side, there is a continuous pressure to show some running profits and ensure customer delight. Incidentally, most of the startups lose their plot during this stage of business.

 

Also read: Worldwide Failed Startup Trends

Stage V : Scaling Up

This stage usually start after you’ve received your Series A investment and now you are looking to scale the length & breadth of your business operations. A significant amount of time goes into hiring resources, marketing your product in the target markets to key audience, building a strong word of mouth PR, and accelerating your quarter on quarter revenues.

Stage VI : Growth

This stage is actually subject to how your business idea has performed. Once you’ve achieved a critical mass of customers, you enter the growth stage in which you can diversify your business through possible acquisitions of smaller companies or you can enter newer markets by raising more venture fund. Fundamentally, there is no fixed time duration to this stage as most of the startups want to remain in the startup mode for a long time.

5 ways to get startup funding for your digital agency

If you are an avid follower of the startup news, you might have noticed that most of the startup funding is landing in the tech startup space, that too largely in the mobile apps & e-commerce category. Have you ever wondered why the startup advertising agencies are not in the investment radar.

Why is it that the most innovative or profitable ones (agencies) get acquired, while the rest struggle to make their mark for a very long time?

If you are an owner of a digital agency startup, here are few things you must build in your business plan in order to secure startup funding for your business:

1. Productize your offering

There is a general assumption that agencies are service based companies (which is not incorrect) and their revenue model is fragile. The competition is so intense that you have keep searching for leads all the time. Payment cycles are long and ‘client loyalty’ is limited due to which advertising agency is considered (or perceived) as low cashflow business.

In order to change this perception, you need create a unique product of your service which has a tangible aspect to it. One way you can do it through technology i.e. by building custom proprietary solutions targeting a specific need (like lead generation, customer engagement, user behavior, customer satisfaction) in a particular industry.

Once you do the above, it would lend measurability to your business model. You can actually predict a certain revenue based on the target audience you have made that solution for.

2. How to showcase your solution to an investor?

Every investor wants to see a practical and profitable business application of your service/product. Do your research on different brands across industries, make an attempt to understand their brands and business challenges. In the agency world, this is called working back to the creative brief. Figure out why your solution or service best-suited to help a particular client.

Show examples & case studies to your investor as to how you transformed it for a particular client.

3. Demonstrate Measurement and Support Capabilities

Make sure you have a sophisticated measurement and accountability system embedded into your technology. Analytics are essential components of the agency business, so be sure to address the topic in your presentation. Also mention your team, however small, in your pitch. Even though you may be a small startup, you have to reassure that you and your team will be able to see any project through to the end.

4. Scalability is critical

One of the key criteria of evaluating any business model is to see how quickly it can scale in time. Every agency is currently dealing with this issue of scalability, especially because they have not embraced the technology to the fullest. Most of the processes (especially around Project management, client relationship, resource management), can be automated through various digital tools available on the cloud. These technologies allow you to get more done with limited number of resources at 1/10th of the operating cost.

Once you have a strong business case, the investor would be interested in knowing how you would scale up the revenue & systems to handle hundreds & thousands of clients? That’s why your investor pitch needs to have scalability in its DNA.

5. Demonstrate multiple business opportunities and revenue models

The investor is also interested to see the vision behind your business. Are you thinking ahead of your time and your competitors? Do you have the team who can produce cutting edge solutions based on past, present & upcoming platforms?

A single business model can never succeed and is too risky to put investor’s money. Having said that you must showcase your plan of action around every revenue model that your company would touch in the next 5 years.

What are places where you are trying to generate first mover advantage for yourself? How will you accelerate existing revenue models? What are the new audience segments you would try to penetrate where existing market hasn’t ventured out?

6. Brand your startup agency

There is no doubt that digital is the hottest proposition at the moment. Every company is re-looking at their business models to match the growing requirements of the digital world. In this case, it is absolutely vital for a digital startup agency to build their startup philosophy in order to create a differential.

A smart investor would definitely like to see how good is the social media of the company who claims to bring the next big disruption in the space. Is your website behaving like a notice board (bored) or your achievements or if it is designed to share valuable insights & trigger conversations?

Also read: 25 ways to Brand your startup

Beware! Do not consider creating a fancy parallax website as thought leadership. Disruptive strategy does not require show off. Sometimes, it is doing all the right things in a clinical manner that makes a huge impact.

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How to attract investors for digital startup?

If ever anyone ask me to describe our current era in one word, my reply would be “ENTREPRENEURSHIP” & “STARTUPS“. I am quite certain that most of you would say “I agree”.

A word, which has truly changed the complexion of our modern day global marketplace.

The world (as we speak) is no longer a bi-colored canvas of small & large enterprise companies. Every passing moment, the next billion dollar idea is taking shape in some small county of California or in the hinterlands of India, which could possibly cause serious disruption in the way people were living their lives.

While, most of us think (and some believe strongly) that our idea has the potential to become the next Facebook, Google, Alibaba or Amazon but very few people actually spend time in crystal gazing into the idea’s future.

It is a lot like visualising bond movie’s starting action sequence or planning your moves in the Chinese Checkers game. You go 3 steps forward in your head and get airlifted to see how the idea looks from the top.

Remember, the person who is investing his money in your business idea wants you forecast not just the profitability but also get him a sneak peek into the near & distant future.

That’s why I said it is a lot like crystal gazing.

The exercise I personally recommend to every budding entrepreneur, is a lot like formula 1 race track simulation where the driver races the entire track in his mind just to get accustomed to the track.

As a startup business owner, you need to see every twist & turn in your business idea even before you are actually in the race to acquire funding?

How you would operationalise the idea?

What would be the day 0 of your new business?

From where would get that first deal?

How would you reward your employees?

How would you make your customer your best friend?

Some investor are not just interested in knowing how much return the business will offer, they are also interested in knowing how will you do it?

The return on investment is non consequential if the path to success is not carved out properly.

Since your idea is your dream, your need to bring your investor into your dream. One has to learn the art of crystal gazing into the business future to attract investors for startup idea.

Remember, being a visionary is of no use if you cannot show the path to others. ~ Anonymous