CREATIVE ; A round-up of news from the region's creative sector in the past week [Birmingham Post (England)]
(Birmingham Post (England) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) App inventor hunts One of the founders behind a unique mobile money app that lets you pay with your phone is on his way to the tech capital of the world to raise more than Pounds 6 million.
Steffan Aquarone, who founded Droplet with Will Grant in a Birmingham coffee house in January 2012, is heading to Silicon Valley in California to hold a series of meetings with venture capital firms, including Clearstone, BVP and Andreesen Horowitz.
The aim is to raise enough funding to take the unique payment system national, after an initial trial in the UK's second city attracted 1000 users and more than 50 merchants (Urban Coffee Company, Bodega Restaurant and Loki being the first adopters) in just three months.
Plans are also well under way to sign up Centro, Chiltern Trains, Hotel La Tour and Birmingham City University, whilst a deal is imminent with Touchwood Shopping Centre in Solihull to launch it in the first mixed retail space.
"Silicon Valley is where Facebook and Twitter got their first big investments and is recognised as the best place in the world to attract backing for technology businesses," Mr Aquarone said.
"We want to prove that it's not just the Americans who can come up with the 'next big ideas'. The Droplet model, which was born in the heart of Birmingham and established by a UK team, has already attracted interest from investors and now we're going out to show them how it works, face-to-face."
It is the first app of its kind that lets you send payments completely outside of the traditional banking and credit card systems.
Instead users can just top up their account via their phone, similar to how you'd draw money out of a cash point.
Electronic cigarette appointment Electronic cigarette company E- Lites has appointed McCann Birmingham to manage its TV, digital, outdoor and press marketing communications following a three-way pitch.
McCann will develop an integrated campaign to promote the benefits of swapping tobacco for the rechargeable electronic counterparts.
Trevor Field, marketing director at ELites, said: "We are delighted to see the E-Lites brand capturing consumers' interests both in the UK and overseas. We are growing so quickly that we felt the time was right to widen our brand exposure and reach out to a wider audience, driving understanding of our product and the work we're doing.
"We are pleased to begin our new relationship with McCann Birmingham. McCann came to us with a broad understanding of the brand itself and where we are heading, as well as a number of great ideas and creative work."
Dean Lovett, chief executive of Mc-Cann Central, added: "We are thrilled to be working with E-Lites, the leading brand in a relatively new, yet rapidly expanding sector. We're looking forward to producing some brave creative around a topical issue which can be executed across a range of media platforms, to change the nation's behaviour."
This most recent win for McCann follows appointments from Triumph Motorcycles and world-class luxury yacht builder, Sunseeker.
Utopia takes centre stage Solihull firm Utopia Resourcing took centre stage at The Skills Show at The NEC, where one of its successful clients Mike Clarke took part in a spotlight session.
Mr Clarke, who has been placed at the Birmingham graphics solutions firm Hollywood Monster, engaged with an audience to discuss his journey from school to part time university studies, employment and how his transferable skills have supported him, aided by Utopia Resourcing.
Utopia Resourcing managing director Liz Allister said: "Mike was a great ambassador for not only Hollywood Monster but Utopia Resourcing too.
"There is no greater testament to my company than the people we support with outcomes with employment to a great company, this gave me the idea of ambassadors for our brand and I am proud to say Mike was selected to represent our company. Since Mike's appointment he has also featured on Radio Plus Coventry with me and featured on both companies' websites."
Mr Clarke added: "I am very pleased to have been asked to become an ambassador of Utopia Resourcing. "Utopia really helped me at a time where I was unsure which direction I wanted to go in my career, they examined the skills I had learned from my previous roles in both retail and business and directed me to a fantastic role at Hollywood Monster that I really enjoy and brings the best out of me.
"I am very happy to be able to give support back to Utopia after they helped me find my way.
"The spotlight session at the Skills Show was a great day. I talked about the transferable skills needed for a successful career and explained what I had learned such as customer service and leadership in retail and teamwork and communication in business and how I use these every day in my role as a project manager.
"It's great that Utopia are so passionate about being involved in great events like this and I was proud to have been a part of it."
Export boost for software firm Midland-based software company Chrysalis-Solmotive has seen inbound income from Australia rise to more than Pounds 500,000.
A UKTI funding grant of Pounds 10,100 has helped the automotive software developer to get sizeable contracts in place. The innovative entrepreneurs behind the business used the grant to adapt their UK software programme to suit the needs and requirements of the Australian motor finance industry, resulting in a three year contract with an international division of an automotive manufacturer's finance company worth in excess of Pounds 524,000. Since then Chrysalis-Solmotive has grown its operations from two employees to 20.
In 2012 the business continues to go from strength to strength, having this month signed an agreement with St George Bank, a subsidiary of Westpac, one of Australia's big four banking operations.
Further to this, Chrysalis-Solmotive will soon complete negotiations with Capital Finance, one of Australia's leading finance companies owned by Lloyds Banking Group.
These strategic relationships will provide Chrysalis-Solmotive with a reliable source of clean finance data, opening up the potential to work with all Australian automotive dealers and substantially boosting the company's projected revenue from the Australian market to in excess of Pounds 1.5 million by year end 2013.
Paul Bennett, sales and marketing director at Chrysalis Solmotive, said: "Building a business in such tough economic conditions is a challenge, but by displaying good financial sense and a product that holds real value, there is funding available to bridge the gap.
"Entrepreneurs shouldn't be put off by the barriers to entry - we have every confidence the funding available will help to boost British SMEs."
Account win for Prova Environmental PR consultancy Prova has won the public relations account for Remondis UK, a division of one of the largest waste management and recycling organisations in the world.
Prova, which has clients across clean tech, waste management and recycling, will be driving a business campaign to position Remondis as the UK's leading provider of hazardous waste collection, recycling and disposal solutions. Prova will also be responsible for managing the launch of a new, state-of-the-art facility for the company in Prescot, Merseyside, in early 2013.
Remondis is focused on protecting the environment and the conservation of resources and aims to return as many materials as possible to the commercial cycle through closed-loop recycling. The Remondis offer includes the complete chain of services; from logistics and sorting, via pre-treatment and preparation, to the marketing of reclaimed raw materials and fuels. The company also owns and manages its own logistics and plant networks.
David Winstanley, managing director at Remondis UK, commented: "With the opening of our new waste treatment facility in the New Year, 2013 will be very exciting for the Remondis UK brand. We are focused on taking our full-service offering to both horizontal and vertical markets in the UK and we believe that Prova's knowledge and experience in the environmental sector will help us to deliver commercial success. We look forward to developing a strong partnership with the Prova team."
Prova's Gill Holtom added: "We are delighted to be working with a company which is so highly regarded in the waste management sector. With such a unique offering in the UK, there is a real opportunity for Remondis to dominate the hazardous waste hierarchy in key UK markets and we are looking forward to supporting the brand on its journey."
Flooring firm selects agency Cogent Elliott's PR team has joined its colleagues on the integrated marketing account for Amtico, the design tile flooring manufacturers.
Cogent PR has been appointed following a competitive pitch to raise awareness of Amtico to commercial and residential audiences as it launches its most extensive flooring collection to date. Consisting of 188 products, the new Signature Collection launches in 2013 and harnesses the essence of I AMTICO, providing a range of innovative wood, stone or abstract products that allow consumers to truly create a floor that is unique to them.
Cogent's PR activity will focus on the Amtico product being experienced, sampled and demonstrated. The PR team will develop all activity alongside its Cogent stablemates in areas including strategy and creative.
Sian Lewis, UK marketing manager at Amtico, said: "It was hugely important for us to appoint a PR agency that shared our core values of ambition and inspiration.
It was these factors that helped Cogent PR stand out from the crowd of other agencies.
"It's also great that we're already benefitting from their interaction with other Cogent colleagues."
Mike Phillipson, chief executive of Cogent Elliott, said: "Amtico is the kind of brand we love to help build at Cogent. Their imaginative ethos gives us the ideal base to flex our own creative muscles and, as the team is already proving, Cogent PR has a growing reputation for creatively bringing brands to life."
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