Vocus marketing team pushes innovation agenda with startup investment program

B2B telecommunications company plans to kick-off a second round of its Amcom Upstart seed capital investment program for startups, repositioning the brand as a thought leader

B2B telecommunications provider, Vocus, will kick-off a second round of its innovative seed capital investment program for startups thanks to the success of the marketing-led program in 2015.

The group’s general manager of marketing and customer experience, Jonathan Amery, told CMO Amcom Upstart is part of a wider strategic marketing approach to move away from traditional sponsorship programs and help to reposition the brand as a thought leader and innovator within the telco and tech space.

Amery said such an ambition couldn’t be achieved through campaigns alone. Amcom was given the green light to merge with Vocus in June 2015 and has since been rebranded to Vocus Communications.

Modelled on proven and successful programs in the United States, Amcom Upstart launched in 2015 and gave eight startups the opportunity to get a minimum viable product to market, develop a business model and secure initial customers.

On offer was $40,000 in seed capital, along with a network of mentors including successful entrepreneurs, domain experts and experienced VCs including Steve Baxter and Tony Grist. In return, Vocus received an 8 per cent stake in the successful startup businesses.

“Collaboration with program partners enabled the delivery of a huge amount of exposure for Amcom with minimal business disruption and resource demand from within Amcom,” said Amery.

“As named sponsor, we delivered the marketing and PR, while E-Group was responsible for raising the $500,000 capital and SpaceCubed provided co-working space and helped design and manage the three-month program.

“As a team, we delivered all the usual elements of a successful campaign or sponsorship launch including a dedicated website and social media program, PR launch and promotional partnerships within other startup forums including OzApp awards and WestTech.”

Amery said Amcom Upstart generated more than 50 articles across print and digital, a community of tweeters and numerous events, and culminated in a 250-person pitch event with a long list of tech influencers and local celebs in attendance.

“To leverage this exposure, we tracked the startups over their journey, creating video and content to share across our different channels,” he continued. “Beyond the already high level of exposure and goodwill generated, we continue to see great progress from the startups, with some really making traction in market. Most of the PR still ties back to the program and we continue to benefit from the startups success and track their progress.”

As a result of this success, Amery said Vocus plans to run the program for another year. Submissions are expected to open in March and the program start in July. The initiative will be renamed Vocus Upstart to also reflect the wider business rebrand.

He claimed Upstart also remains one of the most generous programs for seed startup capital in Australia.

“Aside from the good PR, the program is a particular source of pride for Vocus and the marketing and executive team,” Amery added.

Jonathan Amery was selected as one of the top 10 innovative marketing leaders in our inaugural CMO50 for 2015. You can read insights on his rise to marketing leadership, along with broad range of initiatives driving the B2B brand’s long-term growth, in our CMO50 portal.

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