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Draftfcb Partners with the World’s Top Startup Accelerator


This year, Draftfcb Chicago had the opportunity to act as a mentor for startups as a partner withTechstars, the #1 startup accelerator in the world. Each year, thousands of startups apply to participate in Techstars’ 10-week intensive mentorship program; but only 10 companies per program location are chosen. With selection rates lower than the Ivy League, startups must be among the best of the best to get selected.
For Draftfcb, becoming a mentor in the program enabled us to get early access to the latest innovations in technology. However, this role of a mentor is different than our normal relationship with technology vendors. With the Techstars startups, we weren’t working with established companies with robust business models, but with emerging technologies. Our role was less about evaluation and more about exploration; working with the startups to identify the full potential of their ideas for consumers, our clients and our agency.
For some of the startups, the value proposition was enabled email marketing to be personalized by time of day sent, subject line and product recommendations, increasing email efficiencies and optimization over used quantitative metrics to identify user experience weaknesses in ecommerce sites and benchmark sites against their key competitors. Both of these applications identified key challenges that our strategic analytic and UX teams sometimes face and they are already implementing some of these new technologies on behalf of clients.
For a startup, the issue was marketing. They had developed an easy-to-use application that enabled parents to time-manage their children’s access to internet-enabled devices. We connected this startup with our telecommunications teams to work with them on identifying the best communications strategy, as well as explore offering the service as a white label value add-on through internet service providers.
Finally, for one startup,, the issue was how to best monetize their data. Their innovation was to evolve online survey tools into a social game for millennials to play. They gamified data collection, and we worked with them to identify how to gamify data distribution, turning their survey tool into a real-time marketing insight tool that would painlessly immerse marketing executives into the world of millennials.
The experience of working with startups to bring their products to market was incredibly rewarding. All of the teams involved felt a huge sense of pride on Demo Day, the culmination of the Techstars mentorship program, when the startups pitched their ideas to 300 of the top venture capital funders in the country. But, before the presentations started, we got a wonderful surprise: Draftfcb was awarded the “Agency of the Year” award for our efforts in mentoring the teams – an incredibly gratifying end to an incredibly satisfying process.