One of Australia’s largest marketing firms is launching a commercialisation arm in a bid to nurture new tech startups and technology ventures to diversify its revenue base.
Ogilvy Australia has appointed Anthony Johnston, the founder of online payments platform Flycke, as the head of the newly launched OgilvyVentures.
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Partnering with information technology company Wipro, OgilvyVentures will launch several new products in the energy, insurance and banking sectors.
Large corporates are paying more and more attention to Australian startups following the international success of companies such as Seek and Atlassian.
Johnston says OgilvyVentures will be launching “a couple” of startups over the next quarter, but remained tight-lipped about exactly what kinds of businesses or platforms they would be.
“Obviously like any portfolio you have to have a spread,” he says.
“We don’t put cash in – we put our time and our people into these businesses and that’s our investment. That means we get percentages of these startups and have ownership of the joint ventures. So we don’t put cash in, we put people.”
While Ogilvy will not be investing cash in the startups or ventures it selects in the way an accelerator program would, Johnston says the company will – in most cases – build the digital platform behind the new ventures.
“Agencies have traditionally been pretty happy to hand out advice on risk, but traditionally haven’t taken much risk themselves,” he says.
“But we think we have to follow what we say. I’ll sit on the board of these businesses and they’re businesses we’ll have an active interest in… we believe there’s strategic sense in a business like Ogilvy putting existing skill sets into the startups with the benefit being we make money in different ways.”
“You need very different skill sets to be able to market that business and scale that business, and with a business like Ogilvy it’s what we do all day every day. The actual post-launch is where there are big opportunities in achieving scale and hitting the numbers the business wants to hit.”