Michael Lisboa, the regional experience director for Havas’ innovation unit Drive, has left the agency to re-start a business he developed in the US more than a decade ago.
Lisboa has teamed up with legal specialist Kitty Chopaka, who takes on the role of MD, to launch digital experience agency Kizmo for the Southeast Asian market.
The American founded Kizmo in San Francisco in 2005. The company works with brands to roll out digital campaigns and technology products, startups to develop ideas into products, and agencies and clients to refine a brief that will lead to a workable solution.
Kizmo, which has a presence in Singapore as well as Bangkok, in talks with an independent investor to secure backing. The company has started working with two startup businesses since launching: Singapore-based Zyllem and Upstart Alliance.
Talking to Mumbrella today, Lisboa explained the premise behind the business. “The traditional industry at the moment is stagnant. Too much thinking and analysis, not enough making. Our core mission is to break down the barriers that keep brands and people from making stuff. Stuff that creates value, stuff that people love.”
“And it starts with problems. We love problems. Give us any problem and we’ll come back with creative solutions. Marketing, connections, inventions, services.. cool stuff,” he said.
“The other thing Kizmo stands for is exploding great ideas. Taking the seed of an idea, nurturing, making it grow, and and turning it into something that can get funded and go to market. We exist to take ideas and turn them into reality,” Lisboa explained.
Lisboa joined Havas Drive in May last year after a brief stint as UX director at Publicis Singapore. The American was creative director at Dentsu Mobius, moving on in December 2014, and has experience working in mobile, social media, user experience and activation over a 20-year career.
He moved to Asia in 2011, leaving Kizmo five years after launching the business to join environmental and digital experience agency Eight Inc as APAC director of communications.
Lisboa said: “Since my time in Southeast Asia, I’ve experienced a dramatically negative shift from the high energy of the tech and startup business. What I found were many clients wanted a simple, creative idea that could be delivered beautifully, however the agency process would complicate things to a point where very little would actually go to market. Again, too much analysis, not enough action.”
“So really, that’s where Kizmo fits. We’re here to help brands succeed in digital, social and technology, and at the same time help agencies to get a killer brief. A brief they can successfully deliver on and be proud of,” he said.
On his ambitions for the first year of the business, Lisboa said: “Survival! Companies that survive, go on to become successful. It’s that simple. It’s all a question of musts. We will survive.”
“We’re looking for the brands and inventors out there who really want do great things and make great stuff. To create value. We are a partner to guide them and help them do just that,” he said.
Havas Southeast Asia boss Levent Guenes told Mumbrella that a replacement for Lisboa has been hired, and they will be announced in due course. In Bangkok, Havas Drive has a team of five “makers, thinkers and doers” working as what the company describes as an “agency within an agency”.
Havas Drive was set up to provide a “floating resource” to give the network’s APAC markets access to talent without the need to invest upfront at a local level.