Swimming in the Shark Tank

Monday 3 November 2014 by Aaron Waterman

The sharks from Shark Tank.

Some of the most exciting brands are those that are just starting out. Startups are driving innovation across industries in the US and beyond – and while some won’t make it in the long run, others will go on to be the major brands of the future.

That’s why we’re proud to be working with IncWell, an early-stage venture capital (VC) firm that provides funding opportunities to small businesses and entrepreneurs. Based right next door to our Detroit studio, IncWell focuses on startups operating in consumer and industrial markets like clean energy, healthcare and technology, and provides between $50,000 and $250,000 to help businesses get off the ground in return for a stake in the companies. But the firm offers much more than cold, hard cash. Startups receive expert guidance from its team of influential entrepreneurs – if their pitch is successful.

Pitches at IncWell are not dissimilar to the presentations given on hit show Shark Tank (or Dragons’ Den in the UK). Entrepreneurs lay their ideas and business models on the line in front of investors in the hope of securing financial backing.


As well as capital and guidance, successful startups receive access to legal support and financial advice. IncWell also offers industry-specific consulting services – and that’s where we come in. Many of these businesses turn up at IncWell’s HQ with little more than a big idea. There’s often no brand identity to speak of – some startups don’t even have a name.

It’s easy for IncWell to pop over when they feel a startup has potential but needs help creating a compelling and authentic brand identity. We’ve already worked with a couple of startups to provide brand support and give advice. It’s a win-win situation: we help the startup create a compelling brand identity and work with them to build their marketing efforts, which then strengthens its chances of success. That in turn boosts IncWell’s portfolio and ultimately helps provide the VC firm with a return on investment.

The offices of IncWell and The Frameworks.

Sculpting a brand

One startup we’ve worked closely with is a company that began life as “Resume Target”. Though IncWell ultimately didn’t invest funds in the startup, it still wanted to help – so we had conversations about refreshing the company’s brand identity.

The Canadian firm’s flagship product “Target 7” helps professionals find new roles when they’re laid off as a result of their employers being forced to downsize. But Resume Target was looking for a fresh go-to-market identity to help it move forward.

When we began working with the startup, Resume Target’s brand identity – including Target 7 – didn’t accurately portray the positive impact its solutions can have on people’s careers. Target 7 was specifically designed to illustrate the firm’s seven-day employment support process: professionals benefit from a range of services including assistance with writing their resumes and help securing an interview. But many professionals don’t want to feel they’re being rushed; they want their next decision to be the right one – and result in a stable, long-term role.

So we worked with the startup to create a new go-to-market identity that faithfully represents its brand and brings all its services under one name. The result was Attaineo. This name conveys the firm’s personal and aspirational offering, and is underpinned by the strapline: “Transition to more”.

With several productive meetings in recent weeks, we’re hoping our relationship with IncWell will continue to grow – and we’re set to sit in on a number of pitches over the next month.

Startups like Attaineo typically aren’t flush with cash (we’ve all read the stories of founders sleeping in the office and living on noodles to make things work). So while these projects aren’t money-spinners for us, they’re just as rewarding as big corporate projects – because these little fish of today could be the sharks of tomorrow.


  • IncWell
  • Venture capital
  • Startups
  • Dragons' Den
  • Shark Tank