London, UK, 12th October: Emotional and artificial intelligence tools, programmatic platforms and data-driven video tech are just some of the big ideas to be pitched by startups to Unilever for the chance to win a $50k Unilever pilot on 13-14 October.
15 startups have been selected to pitch at ad:tech London as part of The Next Big Thing – an initiative designed to connect the most innovative tech startups and advertisers.

The finalists are:

Relative Insight
Cablato Ltd
Watch My Competitor
Phrasee Ltd.
Real Life Analytics
Over 120 startups responded to Unilever CMO Keith Weed’s brief to put forward “truly disruptive ideas” that can help the world’s 2nd largest advertiser to “deliver the right tech, to the right brands, right now”.

The entries were judged by Philippa Snare, CMO, Microsoft, Mark Evans, Marketing Director, Direct Line and Jeremy Basset, Head of Unilever Foundry. Tech London Advocates supported the process.

“Being part of The Next Big Thing is an amazing opportunity to get in front of Unilever. Video is an integral part of making the brand experience interactive and ecommerce is a big opportunity for FMCGs. We strongly believe that our tech can help Unilever achieve its ambitions,” says Karoline Gross, CEO & Founder of video ecommerce and analytics firm Smartzer.

“The tech market is extremely competitive and connecting with decision makers is challenging to say the least. Being part of The Next Big Thing speeds up the process and we’re extremely excited to be in with a chance of winning the pilot.”

“This year’s list features an exciting mix of ideas ranging from twists on established marketing tools to the truly experimental. The Next Big Thing puts not only the tech to the test, but also the commercial skills of entrepreneurs,” adds Basset, who is responsible for Unilever’s marketing and innovation strategy.

 “Through Unilever Foundry, we’re constantly looking for innovative technology and brand communications to better engage with the people we serve. We strongly believe that combining the innovation, enthusiasm and energy of tech entrepreneurs with Unilever’s global scale is a win-win scenario for startup and Unilever alike.”

The Next Big Thing pitch heats and final will be held at ad:tech London over the course of the event with the final taking place as part of the conference on 14 October. The finalists have also been allocated exhibition space in a special Next Big Thing feature and 150 Unilever staff will attend the show.

Other conference highlights include keynotes from Keith Weed, Three CMO Thomas Malleschitz, Founder & CEO John Roberts, Shell Brands CEO Dean Aragon and Author & digital critic Andrew Keen. Judges Philippa Snare and Mark Evans will also speak on panels tackling tech investment and how corporations can benefit from startup-style agility.

“We’ve already had success through The Next Big Thing with previous winners Avocarrot launching in the US and seenit rolling out a pilot with Unilever in 10 global markets. As an international marketing and media event, it’s our job to connect buyers with suppliers and the rich seam of ‘madtech’ continues to excite advertisers and tech innovators alike. I’d urge any tech practitioners to spend a few hours at ad:tech London next week meeting the 5,000 or so brands, agencies, publishers and investors,” adds James Drake-Brockman, Head of EMEA & India for ad:tech.