New holding company launches with $150 million in funding and a goal to grow fast

An ambitious advertising holding company startup, Meet The People, is getting off the ground backed by $150 million and two agencies with Canadian roots.

New York-based Meet The People launches with three agencies and 350 staff, including Toronto-based Match Retail, and Public Label—two agencies formed out of restructuring of Match Marketing Group late last year. Public Label, which has offices in Boulder and Mississauga, has a more fully integrated agency offering, while Match has been focused on shopper and retail marketing. The Toronto-based Match executives joining Meet The People include Greg Quick, Gary Westgate, and Vanessa Schnekenburger.

The third agency is design and branding specialist VSA with offices in Chicago, New York and San Francisco. Meet The People plans to acquire additional specialist agencies around the world and grow to 2,000 people in the next two years. The funding comes from New York-based boutique specialty finance firm Innovatus Capital Partners.

The company is led by three co-founders with deep agency experience: (top photo left to right) Tim Ringel, global CEO; Tom Armbruster, global COO; and Natalie Alberta Dusey, global chief of staff and corporate secretary. “As we look to expand our portfolio and grow our marketing services capabilities, there is no stronger leadership team to build this vision than Tim, Tom and Natalie and the immense talents of each individual agency,” said Ravi Bhagavatula, partner at Innovatus Capital Partners, in the release.

Meet The People claims to differ from other holding companies by virtue of its “unified but independent” model: Agencies from across multiple marketing disciplines working together without silos, while retaining their autonomy.

“We‘re building a unique, digital-first infrastructure from the ground up that will appeal to brands looking to scale with soul and move away from the status quo,” said Ringel who was previously global CEO of IPG’s Reprise. “Our agency partners will cut through the clutter of the industry and become an extension of a client’s team, ambition and success.”

The intent is to focus on six core offerings covering most of today’s marketing industry: brand strategy and organizational transformation; creative and content; media and channel activation; customer and brand experience/events; product and brand development; and digital transformation.

While division and competition amongst agencies has long been a knock against the larger holding companies, Sir Martin Sorrell has been building his holding company S4 Capital with a similar vision of all agencies working closely together to tackle client problems.

“Traditional holding company players own 60% of the market but they are incredibly siloed and don’t integrate across all relevant services for their clients,” said Ringel. “We are claiming our space by rolling up specialized entrepreneurial agencies under one roof to become a true integrated global partner, with a breadth and depth of experience that will be hard to rival.”

David Brown