Ipsh! Founder Departs, Will Launch Ad-Driven Mobile Startup

Nihal Mehta, the founder of pioneering mobile marketing firm ipsh!, has left the company he created, nearly 20 months after its acquisition by Omnicom.

Reached by phone today, Mehta told ClickZ News he is in the early stages of launching a new mobile-centric company. He said the startup would be a direct-to-consumer play, not an agency, but added its business model would be based on advertising. He declined to share further details of the project.

To allow the early exit, Mehta said Omnicom agreed to amend his contract, under which he was originally to continue running ipsh! through 2009. He will continue to be a shareholder.

“Certainly in the wireless space, after an acquisition you typically have the founders moving on,” Mehta said of his decision to leave Omnicom.

Omnicom clients ipsh! has worked with since the buyout have included Bank of America, 7/11 and the U.S. Air Force. Integrating ipsh! with those and other brands took about a year after the acquisition was completed, he said.

Despite Omnicom’s purchase of ipsh! in October 2005 and a generally high level of advertiser and agency interest in the mobile channel, relatively few mobile agencies have emerged to help engage consumers on their phones and other handhelds. R/GA and AKQA both have dedicated mobile practices and are perhaps uniquely positioned among interactive shops to benefit from the rush to embrace wireless, according to Mehta.

Ipsh! was founded six years ago, when the notion of a pure-play wireless marketing firm “was definitely far-fetched.” One of its biggest client deployments was a 2005 SMS promotion for Starburst in which short codes appeared on approximately 100 million packs of candy.

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