By @SimonCocking

Like any other industry, advertising and communications has been disrupted by digital technologies and new behaviours. One Irish agency is responding by incubating its own startup, Who’s In, @_WhosIn . It’s advantage over tech-focused rivals? Human understanding.

Dan, Shane, Ed and Rob are employees in Publicis Dublin, one of Ireland’s largest and most well known creative agencies. But they’re also founders of Who’s In? – a group decision making and group purchase platform.

They haven’t given up the day jobs however. Publicis Dublin has incubated their startup and sent the team to MoneyConf, where they are seeking further investors and payment partners for the idea.

“We think digital and technical experiences need humanising” says CEO Ed Melvin, who in his role at Publicis advises clients on digital strategy. “And we think as ‘ad guys’, our understanding of how people make decisions, how persuasion and influence works, gives us a unique level of insight above technology layers”.

Who’s In? is a group decision making and purchasing app, which brings groups of people together to “chat, choose and chip in”. The app combines social messaging, voting mechanics and behavioural nudges to get decisions made, and make purchases happen.

Who's In - social pressure at work

Some use cases are typical: a present for Dad, an away trip for the group, a new TV for housemates. Others are outliers – a group daring someone to do something. “We’re excited about how people might use this” says Melvin, “we can see applications, but we’ve no doubt someone’s going to use it for stuff we won’t have imagined”.

Of course, when people come together to buy something, they are open to suggestions. So the team are building an advertising layer within the app. “It’s an unfair advantage we have” offers Melvin “we can open doors in advertising, through our Publicis Groupe relationship.”

The Publicis Dublin incubation model might offer a template for how a service business can enable employees to originate an idea.

The Who’s In? team brought their idea to the Publicis board and secured a “funding match” putting some of their own money into the concept. The agency also provided a bank of hours to be spent on the project, in order to create proof of concept and MVP. That’s the stage the platform is at now according to Melvin, who adds “Publicis has a creative culture in its DNA. It’s who we are. And in the realm of FinTech, creative thought will be what’s needed to influence user adoption and differentiate new brands and services.”

So what’s next for Who’s In? “We’re going after the UK market” says Melvin, “but first we’re seeking serious backing – beyond our angel investment from Publicis – to make this happen. MoneyConf has been tremendous. So many valuable moments and conversations. It’s a tight, focused event and we’re aiming to come out with a stronger platform, and some new relationships.”

For more on Who’s In, visit http://www.whosin-app.com  or follow @_whosin on Twitter.

Learn more about Who’s In? the financial technology (FinTech) startup, developed in-house here in Publicis. Making it easier to decide together & buy together. Visit http://www.whosin-app.com/ for details.

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