Shanice Graves
May 30 · 8 min read

Since its inception, the Cannes Lions Startup Academy has provided early and growth-stage companies the chance to engage with and learn from global industry leaders, while providing those same leaders a unique opportunity to discover emerging technologies that could disrupt their core businesses.

As we enter our next Cannes program, now rebranded as the R/GA Innovation Exchange with Kinship, in just a few short weeks, we reflect on the companies of the 2018 Cannes Lions Startup Academy as they continue to foster innovation in social media, augmented reality, advertising, consumer insights, and interactive shopping.

The female founders of the 2018 Startup Academy.

CameraIQ is still mixing our reality

In an even more realized era of “camera marketing,” CameraIQ continues to be the leading AR platform for deploying captivating camera experiences at scale.

Snapchat and Instagram Stories prove that “stories as a format” is the new goto for consumer engagement, making augmented reality the only medium that allows a brand to be a part of that story creation process.

“If you are apart of the co-creation process and you’re not interrupting the consumer; you’re actually building a memory with them. Fundamentally, that is what cameras were for first and foremost. They were point and shoot devices for capturing memories. So, as a brand, this is the first opportunity that you have to be a part of that on a daily basis,” says Allison Wood, Co-Founder of CameraIQ.

With over a billion daily active camera users, the camera will be the biggest driver of commerce growth with augmented reality as its ally.

NOM continues to leverage transparency as content currency

With their new brand safety product launched, NOM (Not Ordinary Media) continues to help advertisers invest in transparency and ensure that everywhere branded campaign content exists; that it’s safe, relevant, and appropriate to its audiences.

“When we did the Startup Academy, we were teasing our brand safety product release called Media Audit. That was going to be the first element of our overall platform. Now, we just launched Media Audit and are demoing it to clients and getting really great feedback.

We’re in the process of doing two things which are continuing to iterate Media Audit based off of the feedback we’re getting from current clients and prospective clients. Then we are going to continue building out our cross-platform self serve that will allow advertisers to not only run brand safety audits for Youtube but also streamline everything they are doing across social,” says Loren Rochelle, Co-Founder & CEO of NOM.

As the advertising industry becomes more sophisticated than years past, users on social media platforms become more and more conscious of what they consume; it’s necessary for data to be collected and used.

“Brands need to make insightful decisions on how they’re reaching consumers, where they’re reaching consumers and when they’re reaching consumers,” says Loren. “All of these things are so important because they can make or break your brand.”

Teresa Condicion, CEO and Co-founder of Snapcart on stage presenting her company at the Innovation Showcase event.

Perksy moves forward in fueling the future of feedback

2019 is all about scale for Perksy. Their team has quickly grown from 5 to 18 employees, building on their mission of powering real-time consumer insights for Fortune 500’s, agencies, and brands with the desire to better understand and connect with their Millennial and Gen-Z customers.

“Our presence in Cannes validated our work in the agency space — especially having the R/GA stamp of approval. Now, we are launching a new retail-focused product line that brings mobile research directly into stores, enabling retailers to better understand their shoppers, customers, and what’s happening on the floor,” says Nadia Masri, Founder and CEO of Perksy.

So what’s to know from Perksy’s findings on Millennials and the Gen Z generation?

“One of the most interesting things we’ve been noticing about the social sentiment that mass media is collecting or talking about around avant-garde advertising — such as the Nike ad featuring Annahstasia, or the Gillette ad centralized around toxic masculinity — is that while both of those have received a lot of online backlashes, we’ve actually discovered that the sentiment among Millennials and Gen-Z is overwhelmingly positive,” says Nadia.

“The generalizations by many traditional media outlets have been fairly disconnected from the way Millennials and Gen-Z actually feel about the content they consume across digital media outlets. In any case, when a brand like Gillette needs to pivot to acquire a younger audience, they need to tailor their messaging around what that younger base values. That messaging doesn’t always resonate with the those that have seen the brand as the same thing for such a long period of time, and that’s where the strongest negative sentiment comes from.”

In March of 2018, Nadia was awarded Forbes 30 under 30 for 2019 under Marketing and Advertising along with joining the “Delta Under 30 Advisory Board” in its first-of-its-kind partnership to develop new and thoughtful flight experiences. In May, Perksy also joined the METRO Target Retail Accelerator.

Planable keeps making social simple

The speed of culture hasn’t slowed down; in fact, it’s gotten even faster, making Planable’s 5X growth of its social content creation platform inevitable. Since the 2018 program, their goal was to grow its brand and raise the bar on creative collaboration around the world.

“Participating in the Cannes Lions Startup Academy has helped us better understand the industry and the problems we’re trying to solve. It connected us to legendary marketers that are our advisors now. You can’t put a price on mentorship,” says Xenia Muntean, Founder & CEO of Planable.

Xenia finds that social is going back to its roots of 1:1 peer conversations making it vital for businesses to lean into what’s personable instead of what they think may influence a purchase.

“What I love about the future of social media is that it’s going back to the roots of social,” she says. Businesses are starting to realize that it’s all about human conversations and that the less intrusive you are, the more personal touch you have, the higher are your chances of growing a meaningful community and driving real results.”

Susan Lyne, President and Managing Partner of BBG Ventures and Ita Ekpoudom, Partner at GingerBread Capital, leading a session on how to fundraise.

Snapcart is incentivizing users now more than ever

According to Teresa Condicion, CEO and Co-founder of Snapcart, democratizing the capability of fast, data-driven decisions, so far limited to a few companies like Amazon and Google, will be vital in enabling offline brands and retailers a way to compete in an increasingly data-driven world.

Snapcart has the same vision, to make offline data available and useful, by incentivizing users to snap receipts.

“It’s a really exciting time for us as we poise ourselves for scale, fully automating our data processing platforms using more than 400 machine learning models, and making it faster and cheaper to measure data offline. This opens up huge opportunities to make offline, data-driven decisions available to many more brands and retailers, moving beyond large enterprises and getting us ready for our eventual global expansion,” says Teresa.

The Cannes Startup Academy provided Snapcart with high visibility to global clients as they launch new products like CART — Customer Analytics and Sales Tracking, a way for sales teams to measure and benchmark sales, prices and promotions faster than ever at a chain level and OPTI — Offline Purchase Targeting and Insights, making it possible to target users based on purchase data and then measure conversion offline thru partnerships with publishers thus helping brands not waste advertising money.

Smartzer persists in making videos shoppable

Over the past year, the amount of shoppable content has been on the rise, actively lead by new shoppable capabilities on platforms like Instagram, which are starting to make shoppable video a norm for all videos rather than individual branded campaign experiences.

Smartzer has had a big year as they recently released their self-service version of the shoppable video platform in beta, which now it is available for their clients to use. The new platform includes new distribution capabilities, such as a shoppable Instagram Story Ad format. Their primary focus for 2019 has been the development of their core product and technology and continuing to fine-tune their platform for full release in the coming months.

“This year, we have managed to grow and nurture our client base, including leading brands such as Harvey Nichols, Sephora, Zimmermann, COS, Missoni x Adidas, Feelunique, and JD Sports. We are seeing strong financial results carrying on from where we left off in 2018,” says Karoline Gross, Founder and CEO of Smartzer.

The speed in the path to purchase is everything, and Smartzer’s analytics capabilities play a significant role in the growth in the fashion and beauty verticals as the platform provides detailed analytics on video engagement and performance.

“It definitely does not stop with fashion and beauty brands, we are continually seeing a wider range of clientele use our technology and look forward to scaling to a wider range of industries,” says Karoline.

Female Founder panel at the Girls Lounge apart of the Startup Academy

Versus hasn’t stopped fusing the world of online and offline in Africa

Africa is one of the fastest growing consumer markets in the world, growing at an average of 2.2% (more than twice that of Asia). Africa’s consumer market is estimated to be at $2.1 trillion by 2025. Africa also holds the youngest population in the world, with 50% of its population under the age of 18 making Africa’s growth an inevitable force.

“This new crop of Gen Z’ers will need to be appropriately and accurately profiled to have brands cater to them in the best way possible on an ongoing basis, and that is why we created Versus. We are now at our growth phase and have introduced major global brands and partners largely from the success of Cannes. For this year 2019, which we’ve also termed it as our growth year, we have recently introduced elite angel investors that will help us significantly on both the capital raise and product mentorship in our strategic 5-year plan for Versus,” says Kemdi Ebi, Co-Founder and Director of Versus (EnterFive).

Consumer insights have become imperative to understand, simplify, and evolve alongside a new age of consumers.


This year, R/GA Ventures has partnered with Kinship, the newly launched ventures, technology, and business innovation arm of Mars Petcare, rebranding the program the R/GA Innovation Exchange with Kinship. The R/GA Innovation Exchange program will extend its marketing and advertising focus to tech startups in the growing sphere of purpose-driven companies that can create positive change on a global or local scale.

To learn more and stay in the know, visit or follow @rgaventures on Twitter.

R/GA Ventures

Acceleration, redefined. We're building an innovation platform to help industry leaders disrupt business as usual: connecting them with the groundbreaking technologies and emerging players that can unlock new opportunities.

Shanice Graves

Written by

PR Manager at R/GA Ventures

R/GA Ventures

Acceleration, redefined. We're building an innovation platform to help industry leaders disrupt business as usual: connecting them with the groundbreaking technologies and emerging players that can unlock new opportunities.

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