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Havas, the world’s fifth largest ad agency, launches Series A accelerator in Australia


Havas, one of the world’s largest marketing and communications groups, has launched a Corporate Venture arm in Australia, Havas Ventures. Providing strategic and technological expertise and assistance to Series A businesses (classed as having been through at least one round of significant venture capital funding), Havas Ventures will help identify emerging ventures who will directly benefit from marketing and communications to further fuel their growth.

Eddie Wilson is the Founder and Executive Director of Havas Ventures, which will be led from Havas Melbourne’s office. Wilson who hails from a Venture Capital and Entrepreneur background, is tasked with seeking high potential Series A brand partners that Havas believes it can greatly assist through its core expertises.

Havas Ventures was born out of the mantra of business guru Peter Drucker, who said, “There are only two things in a business that make money – innovation and marketing; everything else is cost,” and those words  give purpose to this Early Stage Growth Ventures offering – where marketing is at its core.

Executive Director of Havas Ventures, Eddie Wilson said, “Some 9 out of ten new ventures fail. We also know that considered marketing is so often the key differentiator between success or failure of a business. After two years in the making, I’m thrilled to finally announce to the market that we have an offering that will help close this gap in a meaningful and productive way.”

Conceptualised after sub-leasing space from Havas Melbourne during his successful entrepreneurial endeavours, Wilson recognised there was an opportunity to help the agency use the breadth of its capabilities to become more ingrained in a business’s success. Wilson took this vision to Havas’ leadership team, getting their buy-in for what he believed to be the differentiating element for an Australian agency.

A timely entry by Havas Ventures

James Wright, Group Chief Operating Officer of Havas Creative Group, said that he and colleagues Mike Wilson (CEO Havas Media Group) and Anthony Gregorio (CEO Havas Creative Group) are very impressed with Wilson’s ambition and drive, and the potential of Havas Ventures in Australia.

“Havas is one of the world’s most recognised networks, but in Australia we wanted to do something that differentiates ourselves and gives purpose to our entrepreneurial nature. Eddie has taken us on the Havas Ventures journey and we are confident that not only does this stand us apart from any other Australian marketing communication agency, but demonstrates our commitment to innovation and emerging business – those who we’ll support on their journey to success,” says Wright.

With the support of Havas and the understanding of the market gap, Havas Ventures was created – offering four distinct service lines, including strategic consultancy, marketing & communications, capital investment and global network access for Early Stage Growth Ventures in Australia.

“I’m excited to transition from ideation and business planning stages towards formal implementation. The plan has been constructed to extend Havas’ service offering and substantiate an accelerator model that has the genuine ability to drive growth for our clients and create real value for the Havas network,” Wilson says.

Havas Ventures Eddie Wilson Matt Houltham
Eddie Wilson and Matt Houltham

Run out of the Havas Melbourne office, Group Managing Director Matt Houltham of Havas Melbourne says the opportunity is the right fit for the industry and the market – with some of the country’s leading early stage growth ventures hailing from Victoria.

“Havas is one of the world’s largest global communication groups. We are also a group of entrepreneurs in our own right,” Houltham says.

“It is this combination of communications acumen and entrepreneurial spirit that got Eddie excited because he could see how our breadth and depth of expertise, and the scale of our network, could really help emerging businesses if deployed correctly.”

Whilst officially launching this week, Havas Ventures has already validated its service offering through pilots with several businesses including enterprise scale sales presentation platform salespreso and mass multiplayer trivia app, QuizJam. Support for these businesses has included capital raising and business advice, marketing communications support and re-seller partnership development.

What kind of start-up is Havas Ventures looking for?

According to Wilson, whilst Havas Ventures will attract the attention of every start-up and entrepreneur in town, the product is designed specifically for Early Stage Growth Ventures.

“We define Early Stage Growth Ventures as ventures with a finish product, paying customers and looking to scale into market. In the Venture Capital vernacular, it is a classic Series A profile.

“The important strategic point is that typically ventures at this juncture are best placed to benefit from the fully integrated marketing capabilities of the whole Havas Village. This is what Havas Ventures is all about – and this is why we’re so excited to officially launch it to market,” Wilson concludes.

With no other advertising agency or Venture Capital firm offering this four pillared strategy, Havas Ventures will act as a marketing enabler and potential investor for SMEs – giving them access to expertise to help market, communicate and grow their businesses.

On what he looks initially looks for in an Early Stage Growth Venture, Eddie told Anthill, “At the most basic level: a great team solving a distinct problem in a unique way. Then through a more strategic lens: how will Havas Ventures unlock maximum value, via its capabilities and networks, from this investment.”

He went on to offer advice on how founders should set about giving away their equity to achieve the right funding results.

“Decisions on diluting equity are always unique and circumstantial. The one rule of thumb  surrounds having a clear view that any dilution essentially leads to a more valuable business. Lets say an entrepreneur is going to dilute his shareholding from 40% to 20% as part of the capital raise program. Are they convinced that the capital and/or strategic partnership will deliver a more valuable asset with their remaining equity?”