But instead of considering startups the enemy, R/GA decided to
bring innovation closer to home with an accelerator program,
established in partnership with Techstars. In the session
"Start-Up: How Agencies Can Build Companies For The Connected Age"
the agency showcased the results of that program.
The R/GA Accelerator houses the startups for three months,
offering mentorship, creative services and networking
opportunities, along with $120,000 in investment in exchange for a
5% equity stake. The program is open to businesses that are
exploring connected devices and Internet of Things.
Since 2014, 20 companies have passed through the accelerator,
and most of them do not belong to the media and advertising
industry. Alvio, for example, is
breathing trainer for asthmatic patients, and Grove is a hydroponic garden created by
two MIT students.
In most cases, R/GA provided help with branding, prototyping,
user experience or design. For Stephen Plumlee, global chief
operating officer, financial capital is a commodity that venture
firms can provide, but the creative capital that an agency offers
has a lot of value for a startup as well. "Our startups have won 14
Lions at Cannes, developed relationships with investors, raised
more than double the money the average startup raises," Mr. Plumlee
said. One of those startups, Keen
Home, was invited to "Shark Tank" and attracted the fourth largest
offer in the show's history.
The program has also begun to launch spinoffs. The first class
of the L.A. Dodgers
Accelerators began in the R/GA Los Angeles office in April and
is focused on sports, technology and entertainment. And in October,
the inaugural class of the Metro Accelerator, in
partnership with German retailer Metro, will start in Berlin. By
the end of 2016, R/GA hopes to have as many as 80 companies in its