Amazon wants to up the hype around its Launchpad startup accelerator with Possible appointment

It looks like Amazon wants to figure out how to better promote and refine the platform for startups

Amazon has appointed WPP digital agency Possible to handle the comms strategy for its startup incubator, Amazon Launchpad, The Drum has learned.

Possible is set to look after communications for the business in the UK and two other European markets.

Amazon declined to comment and Possible did not provide comment on the appointment at the time of publication.

It comes three years after the accelerator’s launch. The Drum understands that Amazon wants to figure out how to better promote the platform for startups as it faces increasing competition from other organisations investing in the space.

The appointment is also an indication that Amazon is further lowering the drawbridge to the ad industry, after putting a team together earlier this year with the remit of reaching out to creative agencies.

What is Launchpad?

One of the many cogs in Amazon’s machine, Launchpad first took off in the US in the summer of 2015 before landing in the UK later that year.

Launchpad is both a marketplace within a marketplace, and a resource hub for startups. Primarily, it allows entrepreneurs to sell products across categories like tech, beauty, grocery and homeware away from the babel of Amazon's flagship site.

The company describes itself as an “onboarding and marketing program for startup products funded by crowdfunding, VCs, or incubators.”

Companies don't have to pay for the service, they just have to enroll as an Amazon vendor.

Essentially, it’s a space where startups can sell, but it also offers various services to small businesses to boost their profile: including help with brand development, customer reach and more logistical supply chain solutions to help firms expand globally.

When it first launched Amazon tapped venture capital firms and accelerators like Tech Stars to recruit companies to the marketplace.

On its site, Amazon counts home Wi-Fi system Eero – which sold "thousands" of units in the days after its launch – among its success stories, alongside foldable electric scooter firm Urb-E and Soma.

Standing out in the market

It's not known exactly what Possible has been charged with by Amazon, but one thing for sure is that the e-commerce giant has been, on the face of it, less explicit in courting startups than the competition.

Unilever, for instance, has doubled down on getting FMCG startups interested in its Unilever Foundry project in recent months.

Despite being in the midst of one of its biggest marketing efficiency drives, the global executive vice-president of marketing at Unilever said last year that experimenting with startups remains a business imperative.

Unilever Foundry is also seeking to make its proposition more attractive to young businesses by vowing to ensure that 50% of the firms it invests in are female-led by 2023.

In total, Unilever's incubator has worked with around 10,000 startups since it launched four years ago. It's believed Amazon has worked with over 1000 globally since 2015.

Elsewhere, Facebook recently launched its first startup hub in its London HQ. Titled LDN_LAB, the incubator will run three 12-week courses throughout 2018 with seven UK startups participating in the inaugural program.

Amazon doesn't have a physical space in the UK, and declined to comment on whether it intends to open one.

Amid growing competition to sign on the next big thing as a partner, it will be compelling how Possible shakes up Launchpad's comms strategy to help the platform onboard entrepreneurs.

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