DDB Canada Vancouver: Advice to Startup Weekend Participants

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By Marty Yaskowich
VP Strategy and Innovation
DDB Canada Vancouver

Since our agency began its partnership with the e@UBC Lean Startup
program, we have discovered a kindred spirit that believes in many of the
same philosophies that DDB has had for years.

And as participants embark on the UBC Startup Weekend beginning Friday, we
are reminded of those principles that have helped make us one of the most
recognized agencies in the country, by helping our clients transform
their businesses through intelligent creativity.

Focus on the end user, not the idea

DDB Canada’s chairman and entrepreneur-in-residence, Frank Palmer, reminds
us often that while we make ads and websites and communications materials
we are first and foremost in the relationship business. What we produce is
a byproduct of trust between our team and our clients.

Seven years ago, when our agency launched one of the first social media
practices in Canada, we did so not because of our love for social networks
or deep-rooted understanding of technology, but rather, we knew navigating
these new communications waters was a scary proposition for most of our
clients. They needed a strong partner to steer their boat into what, at
times, could be stormy seas.

Great ideas solve problems for people

In this age of technology and rapid change, it can be easy to fall in love
with an idea, particularly one based in a new or emerging technology, and
forget about the user that ultimately makes the idea viable.

The Lean Startup methodology, through constant validation and research, ­
reminds participants that without the end user, there are no great ideas.
Only great technologies. To be really effective, and more importantly to
have a commercial opportunity, ideas need to solve real problems for
people that they can’t solve for themselves.

Emotion, not rational thought, guides behaviour

For years, our agency has believed that human behaviour is guided by
intuition, hunches and habits. We, in fact, are more Homer Simpson than Dr.
Spock. And while we believe we act based on rational consideration,
careful evaluation and thoughtful decision-making, it is altogether a
messier and more emotional process. We don¹t think think, feel, then act.
We feel, act and then post-rationalize those decisions.

As the groups pitch their startup ideas to the coaches and judges this
weekend, think about the end user and their needs, what problem you are
solving for people and lastly, what is the emotional hook that can be
built into the idea’s story.

DDB Canada Vancouver is an integrated marketing and communications agency. As
part of the DDB Canada network, it is the most awarded and results-proven
agency in the country in the last 10 years.

Startup Weekend at UBC: We would like to thank DDB Canada Vancouver who is our gold sponsor, for graciously supporting us in making this event possible.