VSA hosts Brands+Startups finale on September 18

VSA Partners’ Chicago office will serve as host for a unique event, the finale of the Brands+Startups™ 2014 Mobile Marketing Challenge on Thursday, September 18. “We’re very pleased to host Brands+Startups,” said Heather Torreggiani, VSA’s Chief Marketing Officer. “VSA champions opportunities for the worlds of technology, marketing and branding to come together, and we’re pleased to offer a space to showcase Chicago’s startup community as a burgeoning source of mobile innovation.”

The Challenge had its origins in 2013 after its parent organization, the Heartland Mobile Council, saw several years of successful events and growth. Hugh Park Jedwill, HMC Executive Director and President, explained, “We saw demand from the brands we worked with to become aligned with the internet-driven startups we were encountering in many different incubators, accelerators and spaces. Brands recognized the startups’ viability, but couldn’t vet them all. We saw an opportunity to help them look at these startups and figure out which ones would be the best matches.”

In the opening round of the 2014 program earlier in the summer, the Challenge included 31 startups, now down after additional rounds to the final four. Those four—CareerStarter, Paperwoven, SimpleRelevance and StoryMix Media—will compete at VSA for the chance to win a $25,000 grand prize, decided jointly by coaches from BCBS of Illinois, Best Buy and Mead Johnson Nutrition and audience text votes. The focus of this round is “Promotion,” and finalists will need to pitch their go-to-market strategy in 60 seconds; modeled after The Voice, coaches will signal their approval by turning their chairs around.

The finale will include a number of additional activities: a “Pitching VCs vs. Brands” panel will feature Mario Tapia of Momentum and representatives from Best Buy and BCBS of Illinois; Momentum will showcase several of its own Bay Area startups in the same pitch format; and startups from early competition rounds will repitch and demo their products. And the event offers significant networking opportunities with startup and marketing professionals.

Tickets are available now for the finale event beginning at 6:00 pm on September 18 and start at $15. Read more about the Brands+Startups Challenge and the startups’ long journey to the finale at the HMC website. And follow HMC on Twitter to learn more about their upcoming events. As Jedwill said, “We’re here to put Chicago as the heart of the heartland and the place to learn about the marketing side of mobile technology that’s becoming ubiquitous now.”