LaunchPod alights in San Fran, set to nurture hi-tech start-ups

SAN FRANCISCO: Following the ’PR incubator’ model forged by Palo Alto’s SparkPR, a trio of Schwarz Communications execs have jumped ship to open LaunchPod, an agency focused strictly on launching hi-tech start-ups.

SAN FRANCISCO: Following the ’PR incubator’ model forged by Palo Alto’s SparkPR, a trio of Schwarz Communications execs have jumped ship to open LaunchPod, an agency focused strictly on launching hi-tech start-ups.

SAN FRANCISCO: Following the ’PR incubator’ model forged by Palo

Alto’s SparkPR, a trio of Schwarz Communications execs have jumped ship

to open LaunchPod, an agency focused strictly on launching hi-tech

start-ups.



The firm, which opened for business in San Francisco last week, will

cater to pre-IPO, venture-backed companies in the hi-tech hotbeds of

Silicon Valley and Seattle. Like Spark, LaunchPod will also work for a

combination of cash and equity, and plans to turn over clients to larger

agencies once they have moved beyond launch stage.



According to principal Jesse Odell, what sets LaunchPod apart is its

exclusive focus on PR virgins: ’Our motto is ’Telling stories that have

never been told before.’’



To be sure, Odell and partners Jason Mandell and Jason Throckmorton

bring plenty of experience with emerging companies to the table.

Collectively, their previous clients include Lycos and Digital

Impact.



LaunchPod also has the backing of some of Silicon Valley’s top VC firms,

such as Fisher Jurvetson and Trinity Ventures. Such tight VC

relationships are known to provide a direct pipeline to big-budget new

business.



’These guys have the portfolio and expertise to become the PR ’guns for

hire’ for the handful of companies that we choose to invest in every

year,’ said Noel Fenton, a general partner at Trinity.



The emergence of firms such as Spark and LaunchPod has led some to

ponder whether traditional agencies are nimble and entrepreneurial

enough to compete on the dot-com playing field. The opportunity to cull

equity in rising Internet stars has led some larger tech firms (such as

The Weber Group) to break out subsidiary companies focusing on this

model, while others are content to pick up where the launch-oriented

firms leave off, adding companies after the PR infrastructure and

groundwork has been laid.



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