NEW YORK: Financial comms agency Vested has launched Vested Ventures, a program that invests in financial and tech startups while providing comms support.
"It’s a different way of engaging with prospective customers," Vested CEO Dan Simon said. "It reaffirms our commitment to the financial industry and it’s really only something you can do if you’re a specialist agency that focuses in on the space."
Vested’s team can help bring startups to the market, which is "where [they] need the most support," Simon said. The firm is currently hiring staffers for a leadership team to handle the new agency arm full-time.
Companies have to apply for Vested Ventures’ services, which includes: branding, marketing, and growth hacking solutions; access to its network of fintech VCs, incubators, and partners; as well as direct seed investment.
Vested Ventures provides comms consulting services on a deferred income basis, meaning the client doesn’t incur charges until the startup reaches a certain "trigger point," whether that’s in terms of revenue or valuation, Simon said.
The program accepts rolling applications and reviews companies based on certain criteria.
"In the course of our conversations with clients, we’ve come across interesting companies that we’d like to do more with than give support comms, specifically if they meet financial criteria, and participate in the financial wellness and literacy space," Simon said. "We felt it would be good for us to not only support the roll out, promotion, and growth, but to take a direct investment."
Led by a trio of Vested executives — Simon, president Binna Kim, and COO Ishviene Arora — Vested Ventures takes a more "judicious" approach to reviewing companies than VC firms that invest in many startups under the assumption most will fail, Simon said. But that doesn’t mean the agency arm is necessarily looking for the next unicorn.
Vested Ventures has invested more than $130,000 in cash and $120,000 in deferred income consulting services in a pair of companies, the latest being Remesh, a market research company that integrates AI into its services, which closed a $1 million angel investment round in late 2016. The first company the agency arm invested in was Spare, an app that rounds up users’ dinner bills to the nearest dollar and donates the change to Food Bank for New York City and City Harvest.
Launching mid-2015, Simon said Vested will have more than $5 million in annual revenue and anticipates high double-digit growth in 2017.