DDB Ignite, an accelerator model designed to collaborate with disruptive start-ups to move them from a unique product idea to a concise brand platform and business-driving communications strategy, is launching nationally across Canada. Developed and piloted in DDB Canada’s Vancouver office, DDB Ignite puts the power of the agency’s brand-building expertise and ecosystem of resources, including Tribal Worldwide Canada and Karacters Design Group, behind emerging start-ups and high-growth companies. The program is now being rolled-out across the country, with each of DDB Canada’s offices tailoring the program to support the unique entrepreneurial communities and game-changing start-ups in Vancouver, Edmonton, Montreal and Toronto.
“DDB Ignite empowers each office to meaningfully engage with the local entrepreneurial community and foster mutually beneficial partnerships that drive innovation through shared learning,” explains Lance Saunders, national president and chief operating officer, DDB Canada. “It allows the agency the opportunity to build new brands and communication strategies for innovative companies, while exposing our talent and clients to progressive ways of thinking.”
Unlike traditional business accelerators, DDB Ignite offers brand, design and communication expertise and mentorship via three programs to help start-ups reach their next stage growth through the creation and expression of a compelling brand story. The agency offers its services to start-ups in exchange for deferred fees, equity and exposure to the most innovative new ideas and category breaking business.
“We’ve been building our program behind the scenes for the past three years with advisors from the business community, academia and the start-up world - pivoting on our idea, much like the Lean Startup method recommends,” says Saunders. “First it was a way to give back to next gen companies, like a strategic probono, but has since evolved into a full suite of programs to empower companies to flourish and prosper.”
The first tier of DDB Ignite’s three programs is a Brand Founding Workshop, a free day-long session designed for validated start-ups to empower their teams to develop a solid communication strategy that will drive efficient, scalable growth. Since its inception, over 25 ventures participated in the Vancouver-based workshops, to overwhelming positive response – encouraging the agency to extend the program across Canada.
For a Brand Inflection Project, DDB Canada supports start-ups ready to scale their business and take ownership of their category through their first comprehensive brand lead campaign in a strategic partnership with Discover Media House (DMH). DMH negotiates opportunities for start-ups to exchange equity or deferred payment in return for media space, when they are ready to launch their first multi-channel campaign. DDB is the official creative agency for DMH’s new initiative entitled the Inflection Program where strategy and creative is developed for start-ups under a deferred payment program.
In a Brand Growth Partnership, DDB Canada invests expertise for equity in start-ups and empowers the founders with the resources of a full-service agency, working collaboratively to establish a customer engagement strategy that focuses on early adoption and advocacy from seed customers and influencers.
In 2015, DDB Canada Vancouver piloted a Brand Growth Partnership with MyBestHelper Solutions, a tech company helping people with support for child and elder care. In exchange for equity, the agency developed brand positioning for the company and their suite of digital products, and created a pitch and story for investment opportunities. The exercise paid off, with one of Mybesthelper’s founders, Dr. Greenhill delivering the pitch at the Cartier World Women Entrepreneur Awards - winning the global competition and becoming the first Canadian to do so. In addition, the company was invited by Google for Entrepreneurs to attend the BlackBox Connect accelerator in Silicon Valley.
In 2014, Tribal Worldwide Toronto initiated a Brand Growth Partnership with STEM Village, an education service provider. The partnership involved strategy, brand identity, product design and development, in-market user testing, and the launch of their market viable product. The resulting experience drove user adoption, a positive proof-of-concept and fueled investor interest, affording STEM Village the opportunity to buy back their equity from the agency.
This year, DDB Canada and Tribal Worldwide Vancouver have signed on two additional Brand Growth Partners, Sili Solutions and Sparkit. Part of the DDB Ignite model includes an alliance with leading local business accelerators BC Tech Association, e@UBC, Startup Edmonton and Ontario Centres of Excellence. Each organization helps DDB Canada to identify the most promising entrepreneurs for DDB Ignite, while extending the agency’s expertise and mentorship to their members via advisory roles and speaker sessions. DDB Canada is currently seeking a business accelerator to partner with in Montreal.
The next series of Brand Founding Workshops will take place in Vancouver, Edmonton, Montreal and Toronto in Fall 2016. DDB Canada invites entrepreneurial game-changers to visit http://ddbignite.com/ to learn more and to determine which of the programs best matches their brand and communication needs.