Six talented and emerging digital start-ups have been chosen for BBC Worldwide Labs' second programme which kicks off in June. An impressive three of them have female founders. Women 2.0 speaks to the Labs' own Jenny Fielding. By Amy Noble (Guest Editor, Women 2.0)
BBC Worldwide Labs act as a business accelerator, designed for digital media companies who have reached the point of commercialization. September 2012 saw the launch of its first programme, June 2013 sees the start of the second. Of the six startups that have earned a place this time around, an impressive three of them have female founders behind them.
They cover a diverse range of areas in the digital sphere, from 3D gaming to gesture tracking, and all six of the selected businesses are at the point of commercialisation where BBC Worldwide Labs can play an important role in their further development and growth. So what's in store for us this time? We asked Jenny Fielding, who heads up the Labs, to tell us more."When we're looking at an application to the BBC Worldwide Labs programme, we're looking out for a whole range of things: teams with diverse skill sets and backgrounds, disruptive technology and business models, entrepreneurs who think big and global and also those who are a strategic fit with the BBC," Jenny told Women 2.0. "The calibre of applicants [for the second programme] has been incredible once again and it is clear that over the past twelve months that a new wave of dynamic companies has emerged on the UK digital scene which is exciting for us and for the UK digital industry alike."
The Successful Six
So who are these game-changing companies and what are they all about? The six startups that have been selected for the programme are:
Animal Vegetable Mineral - Making entertainment for broadcast, online and mobile platforms
Future Ad Labs - Future Ad Labs have created PlayCaptcha: a new form of digital advertising with the potential to disrupt a large global market
Peekabu Studios - Building technologies that make your laptop, connected TV and mobiles recognize and respond to real-world objects, drawings and images
Social Spree - A content-led communication tool for brands and businesses, enabling the aggregation and distribution of content across the social web
The Backscratchers - Connecting innovative brands, agencies and companies with the hand-picked creative talent needed for short-term projects and collaborations.
Oddizzi - An exciting platform for primary schools and children at home that engages children in learning about the world
The Winning Women
Oddizzi was set up in 2011 by Jenny Cooke, a primary school teacher who then broke out of the classroom with an idea that she brought to life with the help of a team of developers. It was her teaching experience, coupled with charity work she undertook with schools in Zambia, that led to her vision for Oddizzi. Her aim: to get young people exploring every aspect of the world - its people, places, cultures, problems, quirks and wonders – so they grow up to be confident global citizens. She now runs the business alongside Alison Bellwood, a former advertising strategist and brand marketeer.
One of Social Spree's founders is Liz Walker who, along with her co-founders John Stewart, Dave Adcock, and Owen Matthews, has been helping brands and businesses make the most of digital opportunities for over 12 years. At the other end of the spectrum is Jody Orsborn, co-founder of The Backscratchers, who hails from a very different background. A music blogger originally from Nashville, Tennessee or Los Angeles, California ("depending on who I'm talking to at the moment"), she has a background in marketing, event production and photography, which explains her desire to provide a platform that connects those seeking creative resources with those that can provide them, kick-starting projects and enabling inspiring collaborations.
So How Do Applications From Female Founders Differ From Those Submitted By Men?
"The applications from female founders tend to be more detailed and well thought out," replies Jenny. "We had three female founders in our first session and there are three more in the next one. Who says that Europe has no great female founders? They are out there - we just need to find them." Male or female, wherever you're from, Jenny identifies three key strengths that make for a successful startup: perseverance, integrity and the ability to focus on solving critical problems.
The fantastic news for all six startups is that they really are about to graduate to the next league. The BBC Worldwide Labs programme offers them the opportunity to work within the group's London headquarters with support from teams across legal, sales and marketing, business development and technology, as well as access to mentors from within BBC Worldwide and the BBC and external mentors from companies such as Wayra, Facebook, General Assembly and Google.
"In the future we hope to launch as far afield as New York and Asia," Jenny told us. "In the meantime, I’m very much looking forward to working with these six unique companies, to help them achieve their goals and move into the global arena." It's exactly these kinds of initiatives that are giving dynamic and dangerous startups the well-deserved boost they need as well as getting female founders on the map. Today: London. Tomorrow: the world. Find out more @BBCWLabs.
Women 2.0 readers: What do you think makes a startup stand out from the competition?
About the guest blogger: Amy is a freelance editor and writer based in London. She has also worked as a scriptwriter for a number of London-based video production companies and as a translator from French to English. She studied Modern Languages at Queens' College, Cambridge and is currently studying for a Diploma in Translation at the London Metropolitan University. Photo credit: Kyle Cheung via Flickr.