Start-ups breaking new ground

The silicon roundabout: home of start-ups in London
The silicon roundabout: home of start-ups in London

Disrupt is a word we've heard quite a lot of this year, and more often than not it is accompanied with a reference to Uber or Airbnb.

Clients are often asking us who will be the next big disruptive start-up, but, as venture capitalists know, accurately predicting the next billion dollar business is pretty tricky. They are called unicorns for a reason.

We prefer to look to the start-up world not as a threat to traditional business models but as partners who can deliver agile innovation to solve client’s challenges through Spark, our tech accelerator programme.

Start-ups have the unique ability to be first in market to explore tech opportunities. This is why relationships with the companies making waves on Silicon Roundabout and beyond have become such sought-after partners for brands.

The good news is that the breathless pace of evolution shows no signs of slowing down in 2016. Over the past 12 months we have met a number of exciting start-ups and here is a roundup of a selection of those have made tentative steps to break new ground in 2015 and promise to shape consumer behaviour and the media landscape next year.

Data, simplified

We are seeing a number of start-ups looking to simplify the vast volume of data into something more meaningful. In 2016 we will start to see more business look to simplify data.

One example is Twizoo, which sorts through mentions of bars and restaurants on Twitter in real time and turns them into visual restaurant recommendations. Their powerful algorithm gathers information on sentiment, credibility and location, and streamlines all of this data to help you chose where to go and what to eat.

In a similar vein, for those that end up spending more time researching your holiday than on it, Lucky Trip solves this dilemma in a single tap. It syncs data from multiple sources such as live flight and hotel availability, reviews and guides. Lucky Trip just asks you to set your budget on a slider and generates the perfect trip selecting the destination, best flights and top rated, available hotel in your price range.

Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the amount of data they generate and the degree to which brands are keen to target them. The Powr of You is one start-up that has created a way for consumers to harness their data, while providing better insights for brands.

Consumers sign up to the Powr of You data hub, and connect their social media profiles, browsers, mobile app and even their activity trackers.

Brands can then access an aggregated, anonymised version of this data, showing an in-depth cross device digital footprint for different consumer segments. In return for signing up, consumers receive a percentage of the revenue generated by the company.

Transforming the brand experience

A number of start-ups have sprung up to leverage immersive tech to help create experiences that blur the physical with the digital.

Draw&Code has emerged from the vibrant tech start up scene that is growing out of Liverpool. The company’s simultaneous VR and AR experiential tech has been making waves in architectural circles thanks to its ability to illuminate every day objects in a visually stunning ways. Look out for their "SwapBots", AR robot toys.

High definition 3D holograms have long been reserved exclusively for science fiction but Kino-Mo is looking to make its holo-display scalable, and available to the mass market to provide real cut-through for brands.

Avenue Imperial, meanwhile, uses Google Earth-style location mapping to allow brands to render a physical space into a interactive digital environment quickly and cost effectively. For brands such as Ted Baker, this opens up the potential for curated, luxury online shopping experiences, which move away from the traditional catalogue look and feel.

Smart outdoor

This year we’ve been working with a number of start-ups to innovate with out of home. With the continued investment into digital out of home, one start-up is looking to add new rigour into the sector.

Advert Eyes’ technology using highly accurate eye tracking to report the volume of impacts a poster or point of sale installation has received. These trackable real-time impressions allow brands to test the impact of different creative and quantify the impressions for each site.

Smart outdoor doesn’t always have to be digital. LFLECT is an example of a new eco-friendly material made of micro-glass beads, which is highly reflective when exposed to bright light such as a phone flash camera or car headlights. Applying LFLECT to OOH posters can light up a poster in the dark without mains electricity.

It’s also worth keeping a watchful eye on Sam Labs, the start-up behind the ultimate internet of things toolkit. Currently a rising tech star in the education sector, its accessible IoT tech will be embraced by brands in 2016. Brands can build DIY connected buttons at scale to create one touch native experiences outdoors (or indoors) to connect with consumers.

So, here’s to a simpler life in 2016 thanks to your connected home, one touch holidays. Perhaps all paid for by your browser data.

Chrissy Totty is the head of innovation at Vizeum UK and Chloe Rees is the innovation executive at Vizeum UK

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