Australia: Havas has launched Havas Ventures, a corporate venture arm in Australia with a mandate to provide strategic and technological expertise to growth ventures that will directly benefit from marketing and communications support.
Eddie Wilson, founder and executive director of Havas Ventures, will lead the division from Havas’ Melbourne office, reporting into Havas Australia group’s executive management team.
James Wright, CEO of Red Agency and COO of Havas Creative Group, told Campaign Asia-Pacific that the launch of Havas Ventures is “representative of our entrepreneurial nature and commitment to innovation” and in line with the group’s position as a challenger brand in the marketing-communications space.
Asked how large the venture arm’s investment funds are, Wright declined to provide a specific figure, saying that investment decisions will be made in consultation with the global team in Paris on a case-by-case basis.
“We will have to make the investment case for it and it will depend on the opportunity presented,” he said. “It could be in the range of thousands to hundreds of thousands, it all depends.”
Wright said Havas Ventures is “not for startups, but for scale-ups” and that the focus would be on identifying emerging ventures that the team believes will bring value to both parties.
“This is key, which is what having someone of the background of Eddie [Wilson] will help us do,” he added. “We want to utilise our strategic and technological capabilities to accelerate the growth of these ventures, but equally for those ventures to provide for commercial opportunities to Havas.”
Wilson was formerly an investment director for private equity firm CVC Group before leaving in 2013 to found Gadget Exchange, a seller of second-hand smartphones, which was sold in 2014.
He is tasked with seeking high potential Series A brand partners, classed as having been through at least one round of significant venture-capital funding.
Havas Ventures will identify and target the businesses it believes Havas can greatly assist through its breadth of disciplines and expertise, to act as a marketing enabler and potential investor.
The venture arm will offer four service lines: strategic consultancy, marketing and communications, capital investment and global network access.
Wright was unable to share any startups that have come on board with Havas Ventures at this time, adding that the team was currently in negotiations with a few companies and expects to make announcements in the next three to six months.
Whilst officially launching this week, Havas Ventures has already run a series of pilots to test its offering for select businesses, with one being multiplayer trivia app, QuizJam.
Services provided to QuizJam include launch publicity, capital raising advisory and business strategy. In addition, support came from the development of a communications strategy and associated go-to-market collateral.
In a statement, Wilson noted that some nine out of 10 new ventures fail and that “considered marketing” is so often the key differentiator between success or failure.
“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,” he said.