How Start-ups and Ad Agencies Can Collaborate and Organic Team up on a Location-Based File-Sharing Technology

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At today's Web 2.0 conference in New York, Brooklyn-based start-up and online ad agency Organic are unveiling technology they created through collaboration -- a riff on's private file-sharing service. The new tool lets users assign content a location and create rules that the content may only be accessed from that location. service lets users share e-mails, links and multimedia with a predefined group of contacts. This new service allows users to also add a predefined location in which to share files. Think of it as mobile social sharing with a GPS twist.

But the start-up also hopes it's a tool for marketers, which is why it co-developed the product with Organic. "We were going to go up and talk about social mobility but decided instead of talking about future of social mobility why don't we create a product that's this expression of social mobility," said Chad Stoller, who recently left Organic to become chief marketing officer at

This kind of collaboration between technology start-ups and ad agencies is arguably rare, but considering many media and tech start-ups are counting on advertising to be the bread and butter, they'd do well to make them more common. Ad Age talked to Conor Brady, VP-creative at Organic, New York, about how it worked and what could come of it.

How did this come together? When did you start talking?
We lent a lot of insight around the customer parts of it and toward the end of their development cycle we brought in our own emerging platform team, which Chad had worked with, because we have a specific skill around building for the iPhone. They knew they needed that particular skill and we thought, "Why don't we put the two together?" Essentially the development is 98% theirs but we allowed them to take this onto the iPhone.

Then Chad, myself and people in the creative team sat down and said, "If this is a service, how can we make it not only relevant to a customer but also a brand?" We came up with some scenarios and we have a couple of really nice ideas I think we can take to clients. So now our question is do we get up on stage and talk about it today or hold it back? I don't want to let the cat out of the bag today.

How do you see advertisers using this? is focusing on how it works and the functionality, and what Organic brings to it is a customer perspective. ... We often brings thing to brands we think they should be doing and here there's an opportunity for us to bring this to them and show them how they benefit.

We have a philosophy of creating not just work that pushes messages but also utilities and services. ... The idea is to create a message by creating a service or efficiency. [Chad and I] did that together at Organic for Equinox and the Placesaver [an internal project that involved experimenting with GPS]. kind of takes that onto the next level. The example we use is imagine you go to a concert, you're watching a band, and can trigger a [digital] song you can only get in that location at that time. When you tie location and time to content delivery you get into some interesting areas. For me it's the facilitation of delivering really relevant content.

What's your advice to agencies working with start-ups?
It's a little unusual and we still have at Organic an emerging platforms group that does this work all the time and works with my creative team. The team internally does it with a little more relevancy to the brands we have, what can we bring to them. ... But I've always been really open to partnership.

There's a raging debate after Cannes about how people work together and how agencies work together. ... I find it unusual that we're having these conversations in such a public way because it's not that big of a community; we all know each other. I've never felt this huge competitiveness but rather an openness to bring other people in. Previously to digital, I was in the music industry in London and that whole industry revolves around working with partners. I've always had a philosophy of everyone works together, everyone gets equal credit. It's companies like and Chad who have their fingers on the pulse and I want to be involved with them. It doesn't have to always come from us.

My advice is leave your ego outside the door and bring an openness to how this all works. You're never going to be an expert in absolutely everything. So you have to identify the people you want to work with. Look at your strengths and weaknesses and find the partners who help you go to market and tell your story.

I would love to do this more and more. I think it's about picking up the phone and asking people and building relationships. It's an example of a way of working.

How will you share whatever comes of this? Is there a formal financial agreement or is it more just an understanding that you'll be able to bring it your clients and let them have first crack at using the technology?
For now [the latter], the way we're looking at it. We've both come to this in good faith. Chad knows we want to take it and sell it to clients and he'll come and help us present it. We'll put it out there today and ask over the next few weeks and see what feedback we'll get. We had nothing set up in stone beforehand.
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