Ovative turns two

Ovative GroupOvative/Group celebrates two years of ‘innovation advisory’ this month as the boutique digital and mobile advisory firm charts growth for 2012.

Jennifer JJ SchaidlerThe latest addition to the team is Jennifer “JJ” Schaidler, hired last week to lead the Digital Media Retail Practice area within the agency.

Schaidler was previously EVP of Sales at Sony Music Entertainment for three years in New York, prior to which, she spent 17 years with Best Buy as VP – Music, MP3 and Mobile Electronics.

“We sought JJ as addition to help look at the emerging digital media products and services space,” partner Kim Garretson said in describing the motivation, “as well as supporting early stage companies in the development and distribution.”

“She has pragmatic experience to draw the merchandising and marketing together,” added partner Sev Maynard. Schaidler makes for 12 full time and 4 independent contractors on the roster.

“Ovative is the perfect intersection of what I’ve been working on and what I love to do,” she said regarding the decision to come back to Minnesota and join Ovative.

From ‘bix box retailers’ to venture backed startups, Ovative is found at the nexus of  consumer packaged goods, name brands, emerging technologies and relationships.  The model is a mixed bag of consulting  as well as their own in-house digital product development.

“We’re in discussions with four large retailers and are on track to launch TalkingFish in the second quarter of next year,” Garretson explained, referring to a 1:1 smartphone product that connects consumers with retailers over in store WiFi.   Another spinout, also scheduled for release in Q1, enables retailers to better monetize customer engagements via digital media, in addition to their traditional goods and services.

Founded in the fall of 2009 by Garretson, Maynard, and former Target.com president Dale Nitschke, the firm is nationally recognized for matchmaking between startups and more established corporations. Technology partners range from local social commerce player 8thBridge to Mountain View’s content discovery app Peel and Bedford, Mass.-based Zink Imaging which just closed on $35m in funding.

“We’re always open to talking with development and product shops to see what we can do together…and happy to spend some time with startups to see if we can help with the networking.  If there’s a fit (launched, generating revenue, showing growth), we may help with strategic alignment and business development. Our retail customers like how we sift, sort and vet,” Garretson says.