Startup studios are becoming increasingly popular as a way to launch new businesses. The reason for this success is the comprehensive support that startup studios provide to founders. This includes mentorship, access to resources, established processes, and an experienced team. The high success rate of startups that come out of studios is another factor that speaks for itself. Studios have a proven track record of helping startups succeed, and as more people become aware of this, the popularity of studios is only likely to increase.
If you’re considering starting a business, a startup studio may be the best way to ensure success. The market is full of startup studios making big, some are decades old while few are just taking off.
Here are the top startup studios to consider for 2023!
Betaworks was founded in New York in 2008 by John Borthwick and Andy Weissman, both former executives at Time Warner and AOL. In 2011, after Weissman left Betaworks to work for VC firm Union Square Ventures, the company shifted its focus from media ventures to incubating projects internally and bringing in entrepreneurs-in-residence. The company also runs Camps, a three-month program for founders working on specific verticals.
Some of the big names in the investment portfolio of the new media-focused group include Tumblr, Twitter, Gimlet, Kickstarter, and Medium. It has also helped build companies such as Giphy, Dots, bitly, and Tweetdeck. The group has seen more than 50 exits to date. In 2020 it launched Betalab which is a project to fund early-stage startups that have intended to fix some problems with respect to internet usage.
eFounders was founded in 2011 by Thibaud Elziere and Quentin Nickmans. The group is based in France and Belgium, and they have spun out 28 companies to date. eFounders focuses on software-as-a-service companies selling to SMEs. They usually get involved at the pre-accelerator or pre-venture stage, which means that they take a large equity share of any company they invest in.
eFounders doesn’t follow the same methods as other builders by simply inviting creators with ideas to come to them. Instead, they proactively reach out to entrepreneurs with innovative ideas and build a founding team together. This process usually takes 12-18 months in order for the company idea to gain traction and become an early success. After that point, eFounders then begins pitching the stable company to early-stage investors.
Expa was founded in 2013 by Garrett Camp, co-founder of Uber. Starting off in San Francisco, Expa aspired to become a global community of entrepreneurs who help each other build successful companies.
Expa is a startup studio that helps founders create successful companies by providing them with the resources they need to design and launch new products. With over 10 years of experience designing and building consumer services, the Expa team has developed a platform that integrates all the techniques they’ve learned into one easy-to-use place.
Expa takes an active role in guiding founders to product-market fit, rather than only providing services to companies that have already achieved some level of success. Expa spins out both its own ideas and those of other founders, with a three-pronged strategy that includes building its own companies, advising founders in exchange for equity, and investing in companies it doesn’t always work with. It focuses on only a few projects at a time.
So far, six of its companies have been acquired, including Gitalytics.
The New York City-based company Human Ventures was created in 2015 by Heather Hartnett, Joe Marchese, and Megan O’Connor. Their mission is to invest in businesses that cater to a variety of human needs.
Human Ventures has adopted the term “built on purpose” to show its dedication to helping entrepreneurs achieve their ambitions. This is guided by a mission statement that focuses on creating businesses aimed at solving current human problems. The company differentiates itself through this model and leverages partnerships with founders, investors, and corporations to provide even more support for its objective. Some famous ventures by Human Ventures include Inkwell, Clark, Current and Deep.
Human Ventures’ “business creation platform” is made up of three vital components.
The studio also focuses on three core principles when identifying business ideas they wish to transform into thriving companies. These include:
- Solving a real human problem
- Highly scalable unit economics
- A deep sense of responsibility
Pioneer Square Labs is a startup studio and VC fund founded in Seattle in 2015 by Ben Gilbert, Mike Galgon, Greg Gottesman, and Geoff Entress.
Gilbert, an entrepreneur who began his career helping Microsoft innovate, also runs the popular tech and VC podcast Acquired. He says that while most people only start one company in their lifetime, there is a small number of entrepreneurs that start two or more. “What this means is that there are ample opportunities to provide economies of scale for startups in the early days.”
Pioneer Square Labs employs a 5-step process whenever it creates a company, either of its own (approximately 50%) or via partnering with a founder. Upon ideation, validation, creation, spinout, and scale-up stages, it gets rid of 9 out of 10 ideas to confirm only those most likely to successfully receive funding. In 2020, it spun out its 25th venture-backed company. This was derived from a pool of 250 ideas.
Venturenox was founded in 2018 by Jaffar Hussain, a serial entrepreneur. Venturenox is a startup studio that specializes in building SaaS products for founders who quickly want to validate their ideas and take them to scale.
The studio spends time and energy ensuring its processes for building startups are mature and well-tested. The team of experienced entrepreneurs at the studio is based on deep expertise in various key areas, as well as best practices they have curated over several years.
To date, the studio has launched 12+ products that include consumer apps and software as a service (SaaS). They have developed groundbreaking software for various industries like human resources, finance, retail, agriculture, education, and e-commerce. We’re ecstatic about using cutting-edge technology and design to bring new value directly to customers.
Bill Gross founded Idealab in 1996 as a way to move from being a serial entrepreneur limited to one idea at a time to a parallel entrepreneur engaged in multiple companies. The company has been phenomenally successful and is widely considered one of the most innovative businesses of our time.
The Los Angeles-based company Idealab was modeled after Edison Labs as a startup studio. The company looks for opportunities that are big and broken and then brainstorms technology solutions to fix them. It only spins out its own ideas as opposed to those of other founders, and Gross says around 95% of the ideas are his. In 25 years, Idealab had taken on more than 5,000 ideas, leading to 150 companies and 50 IPOs and acquisitions.
Gross is known for coming up with Google’s business model. In the early days of Idealab, one notable success was Overture- a pay-per-click advertising company that went public in 1999. 7 years later, it was acquired by Yahoo! For a whopping 1.63 billion dollars.
In 2007, the Samwer brothers sold their German version of Facebook to a VC firm for €85 million. They then used this money as seed funding to start Rocket Internet– an Internet company designed to clone and scale existing startups globally. Oftentimes, Rocket Internet is referred to as a “factory” due to its wide array of products and services. The company intends to streamline the process of starting up new businesses in the same way Ford assembly lines improved over time.
Its model of cloning successful US technology firms for other markets was so effective that it sold 10% of itself to the Philippines’ largest telecoms company in 2014, valuing the firm at €3.3 billion. Later that year, it listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange with a market valuation of €6.7 billion; however, this value wasn’t maintained and its market cap fell to €2.6 before it announced plans to delist in 2020
More than 200 companies have taken off with Rocket’s help, 36 of which were exit successes. Some bigger names that the company can boast about include HelloFresh, Zalando, and Delivery Hero.