This Is How VMob Won I-COM’s Prestigious Data Venture Challenge

January 14th, 2016

The founder of San Francisco-based, New Zealand-born marketing startup VMob realized several years ago that retail brands should take advantage of the mobile revolution. Specifically, smartphones reveal where consumers are at any moment, making it easier to serve them the right message at the right time.

Today, McDonald’s, Ikea, Anheuser-Busch and 7-Eleven use VMob’s platform to collect real-time, real-world data, such as weather and traffic conditions, and then personalize marketing content and customer experiences.

Since VMob lives and breathes data, it was a natural fit for the Data Venture Challenge (DVC), an annual competition for startups that leverage marketing data as a major selling point of their product/service. I-COM, the Europe-based global forum for marketing data and measurement, launched DVC in 2012 to showcase startup innovation to its global membership of brand and agency executives.

The competition has become a great way to get discovered by dream potential customers and investors, with many participants returning home with deals and strong leads (that’s why KITE supports DVC).

In 2014, VMob won I-COM’s Emerging Market award and in 2015 was crowned overall and mobile winner.

VMob’s Strategy Director Christopher Dawson, who presented to I-COM’s judges last year, shared with KITE how DVC winners differentiate themselves from other applicants and how his company has leveraged its wins.

VMob presenting ICOM 2015-300KITE: Why did you apply for the Data Venture Challenge in 2014? And again in 2015?

Christopher Dawson: In 2014 and 2015 we wanted to share the work we were doing with big global customers on a global stage. The reason is that we were interested in having that work judged and recognized by people who have deep experience in data-driven marketing.

KITE: Which part of the DVC application, in your experience, is the most important to really get right?

Dawson: In my view it is very important to nail the operational plan. A lot of ideas are discussed during the conference and the thing that sets apart the winners is the companies that have a clear view of how to implement and commercialize their IP.

KITE: What traits do DVC finalists have in common?

Dawson: They all solve problems using previously unavailable or hard to use technology or techniques. All the successful companies have found a way to open up unprecedented levels of data and quickly turn that into coherent stories and insights.

KITE: You have won I-COM awards two years in a row. Have these wins impacted your business?

Dawson: Absolutely. The advantage of winning at I-COM is the credibility you need whenever you sell something that is relatively new or previously seen as complex or hard to do. Recognition here helped us in competitive pitches where validation of our methods was an important part of the assessment.

KITE: What is the one recommendation you have for 2016 DVC applicants?

Dawson: Draw on actual case studies of work that you can use to illustrate the power of your technology. If you have piloted or you are already operating successfully then present real numbers that can be used to assess the positive impact your company can make for your clients.

Ready to apply to DVC? If your startup leverages marketing data as a major selling point, has a product live in the market, at least one client/one case study, was founded in 2012 or more recently, and has annual revenue less than $2.5MM, apply here by January 31.

Learn more about I-COM and DVC in KITE’s interview with I-COM Chairman Andreas Cohen.