Q&A: Deloitte Finds More Ways to Connect with Digital Startups

As the crop of startups continues to grow, particularly in digital media, consulting and financial advisory firm Deloitte is working do more than just introduce innovators to potential investors. So Deloitte has been co-sponsoring the Digital Media Center (DMC) group to bring together New York startups from the digital media arena and venture capitalists. And in January Deloitte acquired Seattle-based mobile ad agency Übermind and created Deloitte Digital, a move that enhances the firm’s ability to serve the digital technology market,from startups to more established companies.

Craig Wigginton, Deloitte’s northeast technology and telecommunications practice leader-based in New York, spoke to Xconomy about the firm’s efforts to work with the startup community and the thriving media industry as a whole.

Xconomy: What has been Deloitte’s strategy for engaging with the innovation ecosystem?

Craig Wigginton: New York City is hot right now. I wouldn’t even say it is just the [venture capital] space, because we’ve had some focus on that for a while. It’s becoming the heart, or at least the east ventricle, of the digital media market ecosystem. Whether it’s within technology, media, and the telecommunications space, or across the industry, convergence is the DNA for getting this going. Some of it’s natural. New York City has been a venture capital hotbed for a number of years. Legacy-wise it’s been the media capital of the world. It makes sense that it’s also the digital media capital. We are clearly seeing some of that traction right now. We launched the DMC, which is one avenue to leverage that space.

X: Have you worked with other groups to engage the startup community?

CW: We’ve been involved with Digital DUMBO [a group out to raise awareness of Brooklyn’s startup scene] for a while now. The innovative energy that is in that community and the New York startup market overall is just phenomenal and contagious. We’re interacting with these guys, getting others involved, building connections internally, but also fostering the innovative ecosystem by plugging in the startups with some of the larger companies. It’s kind of like an innovation dating game. With Digital DUMBO, we recently sponsored a regional event for South by Southwest (SXSW). We’ve got our Fast 500 program which we’ve had in existence for a while now. It is focused on technology awards.

We just launched Deloitte Digital. It is fairly broad and extensive to the overall digital ecosystem, not just media or venture capitalists. It’s focused on service lines to help companies adopt and adapt in this new digital world. Digital’s not up-and-coming. It’s here. Helping companies with the convergence of mobile, social, local, cloud, along with the forces that would input some of that. We got a lot of skill sets within strategy, operations, and IT. We acquired Übermind which helps with some of the creative talents out there. Existing businesses such as media, health care, auto, travel, whatever can be leveraged with everything being digital, particularly with the mobile market today.

X: Are there services and ways Deloitte works with the startup community that are not generally known by the public?

CW: The Digital Media Center is one. We’ve got an overall VC initiative in place, which is focused on the emerging growth companies. We also do surveys and studies, which are not really targeted to VCs in particular, but some of the data is phenomenally useful to companies of all sizes. One of the biggest ones we do is the State of the Media Democracy. It’s a consumer survey about what their needs and uses of media are. When you get behind some of the data it shows you the trends in the consumer lifestyle. If companies, whether they are emerging or established, can stay ahead of those trends they are going to be successful.

We also do an open mobile study. The concept behind open mobile is it’s an open ecosystem. That has some very interesting data for those companies in the startup phase. You want to be able to skate to where the puck is going to be. Having access to data can definitely help. Another piece we put out that has gotten traction, including in the White House, is a white paper on the impact of 4G and the innovative value in the ecosystem behind the adoption of 4G.

X: Why does Deloitte feel it is important to be part of the innovation the community?

CW: It’s something we’ve always done. It’s more tailored toward certain upcoming innovation. We take a look at trends and understand where they are going. To us it makes sense to focus on that.

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