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New Business Bulletin: Poplar Studio, ShowHeroes Group, Barclays and more

Poplar Studio, the augmented reality (AR) and 3D platform for marketing and e-commerce, has developed a new app integrated with Shopify that will enable merchants to request 3D models of their products directly from Shopify and publish AR product visualisation experiences straight into their storefronts. The app will provide an alternative to the current fragmented ecosystem of tools used to create AR and 3D experiences. This will allow merchants to enjoy an end-to-end solution, from 3D modelling to AR visualisation,  directly on the Shopify site. Merchants will be able to convert their entire catalogues into 3D models and conveniently launch AR experiences on their ecommerce websites, allowing customers to visualise their products. The new app is expected to make the process faster, simpler and less expensive.

ShowHeroes Group, a global, independent provider of digital video solutions for advertisers and publishers, continues its rapid global growth launching in the US and LATAM markets with the smartclip LATAM acquisition. The smartclip LATAM acquisition marks the Group’s fifth M&A deal in 18 months and comes soon after the successful acquisition of PlayAd Media Group in the Nordics in November last year. ShowHeroes Group with smartclip LATAM will be able to offer some of the most effective and reliable video solutions in the Americas, both in terms of visibility and format innovation, as well as continue to provide a trusted, brand-safe environment. With this acquisition, ShowHeroes Group will roll out its portfolio of contextual instream video and CTV solutions in the US and LATAM markets, while incorporating smartclip’s expertise in CTV to its roster of products and know-how across the globe.

Barclays has launched a package of support aimed at boosting small businesses, with the bank set to host 50 masterclasses a month this year, which will focus on managing cash flow, business growth and support for wellbeing. The classes are open to all small business owners, with national events focused on the hospitality and care home sectors. The nationwide drive is in response to new research conducted by Barclays, which has highlighted the impact of the pandemic on small business owners, with over a quarter revealing that their mental health has declined. Barclays is teaming up with Nisha Katona MBE, owner of Mowgli Street Food restaurants, to raise awareness of their new support package for small businesses.

Mobile marketing automation platform Upstream has entered into a strategic agreement with e-commerce martech provider Socital that will see Upstream enhance its technology and capabilities to advance its expansion into e-commerce. Under the terms of the agreement, Upstream secures the technology and expertise of Socital in the e-commerce domain. An extended team has already started working on integrating Socital technologies within Upstream’s ‘Grow’ mobile marketing platform via a converged Marketing Automation SaaS offering. The aim is to support e-commerce businesses in customizing their marketing communications and convert more traffic over the mobile, which is increasingly becoming the top channel for e-com sales. Socital will continue to operate as an independent company under a non-compete clause with Upstream. A pilot version of the combined Upstream-Socital platform will be trialled next month with three major retailers in Greece: Sephora, Pandora and attrattivo. The next phase of trials is scheduled to take place later in the year with selected retailers in Brazil, among the top ten markets in terms of value in the world and the second-largest in terms of growth. 

IT consulting and service provider QuoStar is now delivering 24/7/365 service desk support to provide clients with specialist assistance exactly when they need it. This additional UK-based service provision has been bolstered by a raft of new, and experienced hires that have been employed since November 2021. Designed as part of its ongoing response to the impact of Covid-19, QuoStar understands that in today’s working world businesses are operating differently, so it has adapted its business model to suit the needs of its clients. Today’s flexible and hybrid working means individuals are now working outside of the usual office hours, and they require support at any time to continue to work effectively and securely. 

Remote hiring unicorn Deel has joined the virtual marketplace of the Estonian e-Residency Programme. Deel facilitates the hiring of international workers and freelancers in 150 countries worldwide, offering a quick, hassle-free and reliable solution to more than 6 000 customers around the world. The Estonian e-Residency Programme was launched in December 2014 with the aim of providing foreign nationals secure access to digital services offered within the Estonian e-governance ecosystem. To date, Estonia has welcomed nearly 90,000 e-residents who have established around 20,000 new companies.

Factmata, the UK’s first AI platform tackling online misinformation at scale, launches its new self-service tool to help future-proof the internet from the billion-dollar problem of harmful narratives and fake news. Factmata’s innovative AI technology assesses the level of risk narratives pose to brands, identifies the influencers behind the narrative and enables organisations to monitor how those narratives emerge, grow and change over time. The newly developed tool uses artificial intelligence to automatically group similar online opinions into ‘clusters’. Users can track misinformation, disinformation and false narratives that threaten to cause reputational harm, all in one easy to use dashboard.

WALLIX, a European cybersecurity software company and expert in access and identity security, unveils its strategic plan for the 2022-2025 period. Named “Unicorn 25”, the plan will focus on expanding the channel to take WALLIX into a new era of development that will enable the company to consolidate its leadership in access and identity security, and to position the group as a unifying cybersecurity force.

Five9, Inc., a provider of the intelligent cloud contact centre, has announced its brand ambassador partnership with professional golfer and three-time PGA Tour winner Max Homa. The multiyear partnership will see Homa and his caddie wear the Five9 logo and make special appearances to represent the brand during Five9 events, including the company’s 2022 Sales Kickoff, taking place through February 4 in Las Vegas.

Appgate, the secure access company, has announced new Kubernetes access control security for Appgate SDP, enabling customers to accelerate Zero Trust security for the cloud by protecting cloud-native workloads. This new capability builds on the company’s proven success in protecting traditional cloud workloads with its market-leading Zero Trust Network Access solution. The new Appgate SDP capability is deployed natively within a Kubernetes cluster as a sidecar, which allows organizations to use Zero Trust principles to control service-to-service access across Kubernetes clusters. This enables them to manage and enforce which microservices can communicate with which critical resources, regardless of location or implementation technologies.

Acxiom®, the customer intelligence company whose data-driven solutions create business growth by enabling better customer experiences, has announced that Acxiom’s Real Identity™ is integrating with Treasure Data, the enterprise customer data platform (CDP), to enable full-funnel personalisation, measurement and attribution. Leveraging Acxiom’s more than 50 years of expertise in privacy-compliant data and identity management, the integration will further improve Acxiom’s ability to help brands identify, acquire and retain customers, despite them having to rely on cookieless technologies.

Digital marketing group, Incubeta has announced its partnership with nutritionally tailored pet food service, tails.com to deliver paid media, analytics and creative insight across the UK and Europe. Incubeta won the account based on their bespoke and holistic approach to digital marketing. Solving issues of segmentation, tails.com will now enjoy an integrated approach across data, creative insight and tech. As a result, the pet nutrition brand saw 10% uplift in consumer sign-ups from July – December 2021, compared to the same period in 2020 from PPC alone. Due to this success, tails.com decided to further centralise its agency roster and invited Incubeta to pitch for its sister brand, Republic of Cats, which the digital marketing group won. The activity kicked off in early 2022. tails.com appointed Incubeta due to its ability to deliver from day one, while outlining the services that will support its future plans as a leading European direct to consumer business. The company has been onboarded with agility in mind as tails.com is considering in-housing its digital execution in the future, and Incubeta has extensive experience with this transition.

Paragon Group, a provider of customer communications, identification, and graphic and office services, has announced the acquisition of Reason, a digital transformation agency.  The acquisition forms part of Paragon’s long-term strategy, and will bring new skillsets and expertise to the company whilst providing development opportunities for Reason employees, and scale, global presence and broader strategic offerings to Reason’s existing client base. Reason will introduce new capabilities and expertise to Paragon and its clients; in experience design software engineering and digital transformation. Furthermore, the company’s history of working with clients in the retail and financial services sectors will allow Paragon to deepen its relationship in these markets, broadening its client portfolio and offering newly-enhanced solutions and consultancy to more companies, on a global scale.

Azerion Holding B.V. (“Azerion”), a high-growth, profitable, digital entertainment and media company,  and European FinTech IPO Company 1 B.V. (“EFIC1”), a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC)  listed on Euronext Amsterdam, have successfully completed their business combination on  1 February 2022. As part of the completion of the business combination, the legal form of the combined company has  been converted into a limited company (naamloze vennootschap) and it has been renamed Azerion  Group N.V. The first day of trading on Euronext Amsterdam under the new name  of Azerion Group’s shares and warrants will be on 2 February 2022 under the new ticker  symbols AZRN and AZRNW, respectively. 

LINK Mobility (LINK) has been recognized for its industry-leading innovation that enables global brands to more directly connect and engage with their customers. The Oslo-based technology company has been awarded Juniper Research’s “Best RCS Provider” Platinum title in the Telco Innovation category of the 2022 Future Digital Awards. The Juniper Future Digital Awards recognize organizations that have made outstanding contributions to their industry and are positioned to make a significant impact. LINK rose above a record number of competitors in this category because of its innovative RCS Messaging product, which provides a leading proposition for brands. RCS is the next generation of traditional native SMS messaging on Android mobile devices, allowing brands to enhance customer experiences with images, carousels, videos, maps, and calls to action buttons all within the native messaging application on the mobile handset.  

Carmen Fernández de Alarcón, CEO of Havas Spain, will co-chair this year’s Effie Awards Europe. Effie is a global forum that exists to lead, inspire and champion both the practice and practitioners of marketing effectiveness. The awards are open to all agencies and brands that want to be recognised for their most effective marketing efforts that made a difference and achieved real, measurable results. With more than 25 years of experience in design, development and management of brand, marketing and communication strategies in national and international environments, Carmen has worked for leading companies such as Procter & Gamble, JWT, BBDO Group and since 2002 at Havas Group, one of the world’s largest global communications groups, employing 20,000 people in more than 100 countries. She has extensive international experience developing ad hoc customer acquisition strategies for each market, implementing best practices, and maximizing commercial vitality in more than 80 countries and over numerous sectors. She was one of the female business leaders selected in “Women to Watch” 2018 by PWC. In addition, she has made the list of the 100 Women Leaders in Spain in the Senior Management category (2019). Carmen is currently a Member of the Board of Advisors PRISA Group (leading business group for the creation and distribution of education, news and entertainment content in the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking markets).

BigCommerce, an Open SaaS ecommerce platform for fast-growing and established brands, has announced it has extended its global presence into Germany, Mexico and Spain. With BigCommerce’s flexible enterprise-grade ecommerce platform and best-of-breed partner network, local merchants will be able to build, scale and grow their B2C and B2B businesses internationally and leverage industry-leading omnichannel capabilities for marketplace selling to drive revenue. The company’s latest expansion comes six months after its successful launch into France, Italy and the Netherlands and marks BigCommerce’s official market entry into Latin America. 

Irish food retail, wholesale and foodservice company, Musgrave, has rolled out an ESL (Electronic Shelf Label) solution from Pricer, a provider of ESLs, across its SuperValu and Centra stores in Northern Ireland as its looks to digitally transform its store estate. Musgrave has digitalised its stores with ESL capabilities using a solution from Pricer, which will allow the grocer to enhance store efficiency and customer experience (CX), whilst also contributing to its sustainability goals. Implementing the solution with local partner and ePoS specialist, Unipos, across its SuperValu and Centra stores, the ESLs enable Musgrave to centralise pricing and promotions, allowing it to be updated digitally and in-real time, to ensure pricing accuracy. As well as delivering operational efficiencies as store staff no longer have to spend considerable time manually replacing paper-labels, allowing them to redirect their efforts to customer-service focused activities that add value to shoppers’ buying journeys, it is also contributing towards Musgrave’s sustainability goals by reducing paper consumption associated with traditional labels.

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