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Helping start ups

I read with interest a post last week published by Neil Perkin at Only Dead Fish about the Portland Incubator Experiment and whether a model like that would work in the UK.

Neil writes ‘The Portland Incubator Experiment has been going for a couple of years, actively supported by Wieden & Kennedy, and serving “as a hub for community, entrepreneurship, and creative thinking.” Startups get access to upto $18,000 of seed funding, office space in Portland for a three month period, and get to collaborate with and learn from other startups in residence, industry mentors, successful alumni and Wieden & Kennedy staffers. PIE also offers access to “thoughtful” investors, and exposure to Portland’s mobile and open source development communities.’

Would it would work in the UK – who knows. Would it would be useful – without doubt yes. When we were in start up mode, it is difficult to state how valuable it would have been (and still is) to be able to ask someone a question and get a thought out answer. This kind of set up should be a great place for the agency world to be able to see new companies they may want to work with or try as early adopters.

All that aside, the biggest challenge for us became (and probably remains) much more one of lawyers and accountants (seriously), than creative time. It would be great to have a set up where there is a group of non-execs all working in an advisory capacity for these businesses. I know I could use this now, and use it going forward (anyone?). The initial stage is always the most frustrating and worrying and so this is when help is needed.  It can very easily be a win win.

Neil went on to say that ‘It’s a lot like Paul Graham’s excellent Y-Combinator model, except this year W&K are involving several brand clients including Nike, Coca-Cola, and Target (brands who “aim to find unexpected solutions, accelerate new business, and keep innovation at the forefront”) and PIE are looking for startups which have emergent opportunities that are brand and business aligned.’

Now that’s interesting. It’s those brands that would be interested in watchmethink. The people uploading videos for us are offering up suggestions/changes/opportunities for brands, and some brands are already taking advantage of watching their consumers talk about their (and their competitors) products.

Maybe if we did have this model in the UK, we’d have been one of the lucky ones. We’ll never know.