What I’m doing now: R/GA IoT 2018

12.15, Tuesday 24 Oct 2017

Early in 2017 I ran an accelerator in London investing in Internet of Things startups, and it went so well that we’re doing it again. Tell your friends.

Upcoming events: see the bottom of this post for some places we can meet over the next month.

The program in 5 bullets:

  • It’s with R/GA Ventures which is the ventures arm of the global, 2,000-person digital agency R/GA. Ventures has run a dozen programs to date, with 81 startups in the portfolio
  • This program is 3 months and based in London. It includes hands-on creative work from the agency (for example, to lend a hand on the visual identity and messaging) and design/story assistance on the pitch deck. Plus networking and workshops
  • Investment is £75,000 for 6%, but we like companies that have already raised so there’s some flexibility (e.g. 6 out of the 9 startups in the 2017 cohort had already raised so we had custom terms)
  • This isn’t a traditional accelerator. It’s optimised for companies showing early traction - whether through pilots or field trials - and we like to think about this as a partnership. For example, we keep program meetings to Mondays and Thursdays because people have actual businesses to run
  • The program will run February to May 2018. We’re open for applications from now until December

If you’d like to see an example of the visual identity work, I love the look and messaging of Flock’s website and app (alum 2017). Flock sells pay-as-you-fly drone insurance, using a proprietary and automatic risk algorithm, and is now - impressively - partnered with Allianz for underwriting.

For me, Internet of Things means digital reaching into the real world. My favourite startups use now-mature IoT tech (whether hardware or software) to do something that wasn’t possible before, such as insanely accurate pedestrian football by using artificial intelligence to count shoes, or halving food waste in commercial kitchens. Both of those are companies in the 2017 cohort. My favourite IoT startups don’t say IoT on their homepage.

Here are the 2017 alumni. I’m delighted with how the cohort is going. (Some are now based here at R/GA London where we offer below-market desks to portfolio companies.)

The website: R/GA IoT Venture Studio UK with info about the upcoming program.

A request to spread the word

Last year only 3 of the 9 companies in the program had women founders. That tells me we didn’t do a good enough job.

This year, I’d like to get info out especially to women and people of colour. If that describes startups you know, or you know groups and networks that are representative, I would appreciate your help to spread the word. Please share a link to this post.

Upcoming events

There are a number of ways we can meet/talk.

  • Come to our meet-and-greet on 31 October (use that link to RSVP). V. informal. I might take 5 minutes to say hello but otherwise no presentations. A good chance to come and meet me and our Program Director Lisa Ritchie… or if you’ve lent your time to the program before, a good chance to hang out again after the summer
  • Grab me on Skype (use that link to pick a time). I spend two afternoons each week meeting founders on Skype. Tell me about your company and let me answer any questions you have about the program
  • If you’re at Web Summit in Lisbon in November, drop me a note: we’re hosting a dinner on Monday night, and I’ll be about all week. My email is matt.webb@rga.com

Applying to the program is easy: use the form here.

We’re accepting applications until 7 December 2017.

Cheeky question

We’re also always looking for more sponsors. Companies like Snapchat, Westfield Labs, and Intel like working with R/GA Ventures because they get visibility in the emerging tech ecosystem, and early access to startups which are ready to partner. Let me know if you’d like to chat more.