The top R/GA Venture Studio start-ups for brands and retailers

R/GA London has completed its second round of IoT Venture Studios, its incubator programme for start-ups that use IoT solutions innovatively in the real world.

"Lots of the problems we try to solve transcend marketing and the four walls of the agency," Matt Lodder, executive vice-president and managing director of R/GA EMEA, said about the agency's investment in the programme. "It would be arrogant and naïve of us to assume we could solve all problems with the people we have here."

All nine of the start-ups that joined R/GA's programme made it to demo day which took place on 3 May. This second round of Venture Studios featured start-ups that ranged from pre-fundraising to some that have already started working with major clients such as BT and Arla. 

Another key evolution to note is that, this time, five out of nine of the start-ups were led by women. 

"We didn't expressly go out to look for female-led start-ups, but we did look at our promotion and recruitment process and work hard to ensure it wasn't self-selecting male-led start-ups," Matt Webb, managing director of R/GA IoT Venture Studio UK, explained. "This includes ensuring the word got out among groups that were female-founder friendly and actively recruiting rather than waiting for them to come to us," he said. 

The start-ups that had propositions most useful to retailers were:

Cupclub - a reusable packaging service for food and beverages that includes tracking and a loyalty programme. The system reduces the use of disposable packaging by around 40% and has just landed its first customer, real estate agents, Cushman & Wakefield.

Mimica - develops food spoilage indicators that reduce food waste. The gelatin-filled label has the same expiry date as the food inside the package and will turn bumpy when that expiry date is reached. As it is made from food industry waste by-products, it only costs 1p per unit. The start-up is already working with Arla on a paid pilot for its milk products. 

Sensing Feeling - An early stage start-up, Sensing Feeling aims to sense customer emotions in retail spaces using AI and computer vision. Rather than have customers report how they felt about their service, the goal is to provide retailers with real-time live feedback about how customers feel about their stores. 

Carter (rebranded from Swipecart) - This start-up turns shops into Amazon Go. Stores are geotagged and geofenced and customers purchase items with their phone and complete the checkout process with a button. Then they walk out without having to queue. 

Beringar - Using sensors, this start-up aims to help clients make better use of building space. It identifies how a building is used and how to turn "bad space" into productive space. It's already started working with the NHS to determine how to fit more high-quality patient accommodation into its existing real estate. 

The start-ups useful to advertisers and media owners were:

Boldmind - This start-up created Flow.City, an easy to use, location-oriented advertising platform for digital out-of-home. It aggregates and uses micro-inventory onto its platform. It ran a campaign for Estee Lauder brand La Mer that targeted Chinese customers at business and luxury lounges when China-bound flights were leaving, reducing cost per reach by 10x. Another campaign, this time for Boots, targeted hayfever sufferers. The ads were only displayed on taxis that were near a Boots store when the air had a particularly high pollen-count. 

Sceenic - developed a 'Watch Together' software as a solution that lets media companies create shared experiences for dispersed viewers. Rather than relying on third-party platforms, media companies can license its offering and keep the data to themselves. The start-up is already in the midst of a trial with BT Sport. 

Ideas for brands:

Homebox - helps users stay in control of their household bills by putting everything in one place and switching to the best deals automatically.

Wearable X - brings together design and technology with the aim of improving quality of life through experience and fashion. It launched NadiX, yoga-wear that uses haptic feedback to help practioners feel when their posture is ideal. 

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