Venture relaunches as a CPG ‘growth ecosystem’

From Strategy Daily: Venturepark is combining incubation and marketing to help upstart companies reach their potential.

Venturepark-Arlene Dickinson Launches Canada-s Most Extensive Bu

Arlene Dickinson’s latest venture is bringing several of her existing businesses together into what is being called a business growth ecosystem focused on consumer-packaged goods.

Venturepark will house Dickinson’s network of business units under one umbrella, some of which have been given slightly new names, such as Venture Play, which provides the full-service marketing previously associated with Venture Communications. It also includes innovation hub Venturepark Labs, editorial- and content-focused Venturepark Voice (formerly digital publisher Newsworthy, which Dickinson acquired earlier this year along with its flagship site The Bullet), funding and incubator arm District Ventures Capital and marketing agency District Ventures Plus, which is focused on companies that come out of the District Ventures Capital program.

Other than the Venturepark banner, the thing that unites the different groups is a focus on what it has been calling “the living well space,” a shorthand for food and beverage, health and wellness and personal care categories. The agency first made mention of this strategic shift towards focusing on those two categories – and, more specifically, entrepreneurial companies within them – last fall, when it hired Dan Strassser as VP and ECD at Venture Communications and District Ventures Marketing (now Venture Play and District Ventures Plus). But Venture has been moving in this direction for some time.

“This is what Arlene’s been putting together for the last six or seven years,” Strasser says, calling it a truly unique agency model that is suited to help Canadian companies seize the opportunities to better meet new and emerging better-for-you and healthier living needs, as well as exporting to serve increasing global consumer demand.

The thing that makes Venturepark unique, Strasser says, is that its five “communities” bring the agency and venture capital models together in a complimentary way.

“We’ve got real skin in the game,” he says, adding that’s what attracted him to join Dickinson’s team. “A lot of agencies are wanting to do this [and], at least from my experience, that since that squeeze has come from consultancies swallowing up agency work or outright buying them, there’s lots of talk about how to reposition and offer something else.

DanStrasser_2020_v1 (1)

Despite the focus on entrepreneurship, Venturepark will continue to support current clients as they grow and innovate, while helping emerging CPG brands, like recent healthy beverage and ready-to-drink brand Sapsucker grow.

According to Strasser, he’s excited on the shopper marketing front, to use the latest nascent technologies to better close the gap between the in-store experience and what a consumer experiences in ecommerce. Even something like a video screen embedded in a shelf display could be a fun new way to tell stories and engage a consumer at the shelf level, provided that it makes sense for the brand.

Venturepark will serve clients across North America from its headquarters in Calgary and office in Toronto. Strasser adds that the agency is definitely looking to hire in both cities.