From Daniel Shin’s FastTrack Asia to eFounders: Spotlight on 8 Top Startup Studios
By Space Coast Daily // October 4, 2023
As the venture capital (or VC) arena continues to evolve, 2022 marked a decline in aggregate VC investments. However, the early-stage market still shows considerable promise.
With that said, the chances of a startup reaching Initial Public Offering (or IPO) status continue to decrease.
Concurrently, corporate buyers are searching for well-aligned Series A and seed businesses. The goal: to snatch up these companies before they acquire ultra-high valuations. Fortunately, startup studios are proving to be an important middle ground between these two means of startup exits.
Snapshot of Startup Studios
A HYPERLINK “https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesfinancecouncil/2023/02/21/how-startup-studios-can-help-founders-find-success/?sh=68e484be5019″startup studio is a growth-focused company operated by innovators, successful entrepreneurs, and investors conversant with scratch-built startups and scale-ups. Startup studios provide capital and ongoing hands-on assistance throughout the startup cycle.
Specifically, the startup studio offers startup and early-stage funding to the studio’s clients (or founders). The studio also offers guidance on product development, strategic marketing, and customer acquisition. On the operations side, a startup studio helps founders navigate financial planning and investor relations issues.
Taking another view, a startup studio is essentially a co-founder who helps the business “get off the ground.” As might be expected, some startup studios keep investing in partner companies’ growth. In addition, certain startup studios may offer a business accelerator track that helps a client efficiently scale their company.
Why A Startup Studio Stands Out
The term “startup studio” is sometimes interchanged with a venture capital firm or business accelerator. However, the latter two entities only contribute capital and limited guidance to company clients. A startup studio actively participates in the startup process, adding business expertise along with financial resources. The company’s experts work hand-in-hand with company founders.
These 8 Startup Studios Are Making Their Mark Across the Globe
In the global startup studios arena, these eight companies rise above the noise. Each business serves the software as a service (or SaaS) market. Targeted use of key resources enables emerging companies to confidently enter the marketplace or scale their business to the next level.
Fast Track Asia
A company seeking to expand internationally often partners with a local or regional startup studio based in that area. Serial entrepreneur Daniel Shin’s Fast Track Asia nicely fits the bill.
Established in 2012, this growing South Korean business caters to western SaaS firms desiring to scale into the rapidly growing Asian market. Southeast Asia, Australia, and Japan are key components of this regional marketplace.
An Inspirational Vision is Key
To begin, Fast Track Asia identifies startups with an inspirational vision. When the two companies align with their values and cultures, Fast Track Asia brings together the new firm’s founders and investors.
The Fast Track Asia development team, plus other team members integral to the startup’s growth, remain closely aligned throughout the regional expansion. Most importantly, Fast Track Asia uses its own funds to back each venture, giving the firm an incentive to create positive results.
Launched in 2015, Builders is headquartered in Rotterdam in The Netherlands. This technology-focused startup studio supports “experienced entrepreneurs” who have demonstrated skills in the relevant SaaS market.
Equally importantly, the entrepreneur is overflowing with ‘out of the box’ ideas but needs proven operational expertise to bring them to fruition. Naturally, robust capital resources are also required for each company’s growth.
An Internal Company Lab That Vets Ideas
Fortunately, Builders boasts recognized expertise in the latest software engineering concepts and practices. Experts use the internal company lab to put each brainstormed concept through its paces.
After the best ideas rise to the top, Builders assigns an experienced leader to develop each one. The leader liaises with the founder, furthering the goal of bringing the product to the marketplace.
Colab, a Los Angeles startup studio launched in 2013, has developed a reputation for transforming a promising idea into a highly successful business. Colab’s three-part approach includes product development, brand development and marketing, and capital resource generation.
A Diverse Network of Experts and Entrepreneurs
Specifically, Colab’s wide-ranging network of technology experts, business leaders, and entrepreneurs is focused on supporting the new startups. Sweat equity is also a key part of the equation.
Like certain other startup studios, Colab’s core team focuses on testing and validation of founders’ ideas. This talented cohort also develops optimal business models and branding campaigns.
Colab has produced enviable results, with more than 100 businesses advised or founded. In addition, the company has engineered over $2 billion in aggregate portfolio exits.
The multinational eFounders is a SaaS startup studio with offices in New York, San Francisco, Berlin, and Paris. Established in 2011, this innovative business focuses on elevating promising ideas into enterprise-level software companies.
Today, eFounders counts over 1,000 team members. This serves as a testament to the firm’s ability to execute large-scale business expansions. This highly skilled global team collectively offers varied viewpoints and empowering insights that help to fuel SaaS businesses’ growth.
The Core Leadership Team is the Engine
The eFounders core leadership team essentially powers the startup studio’s engine. The team’s functional areas include technology, UI/UX design, user experience, and project management. Product management, marketing, and human resources functions are also key components of the eFounders foundational framework.
Despite the core team’s varied locations, this cohesive group retains a common culture and purpose. The talented eFounders core team partners with new startups, providing hands-on guidance and priceless insights born of experience. This approach continues to bring positive results, helping new SaaS businesses launch into the global marketplace.
California-based Nobody Studios is a different kind of startup studio. Founded in 2020, this Laguna Beach company brings together creative talent, entrepreneurs, and investors to form truly collaborative businesses with authentic value. Nobody Studios has a noteworthy goal: to bring 100 new businesses into operation within five years.
A Disruptive Business Model
To realize this ambitious objective, Nobody Studios has a supercharged business model. In fact, company leaders say this disruptive model enables them to boot up a new company 40 percent more quickly than other startup studios.
As an added bonus, this business model is designed to overcome existing gaps between the parties involved in each startup. These entities include technical and creative team members, entrepreneurs, investors, and the general public.
Finally, a crowd-sourced component is present during the entire entrepreneurial process. In contrast to some startup models, Nobody Studios’ crowd sourcing also extends to each business’ scale-up trajectory.
Once Upon a Time
Once Upon a Time is a B2B SaaS startup studio with a dual purpose. Located in Paris, France, the company serves entrepreneurs who need hands-on guidance to launch their new SaaS ventures.
Besides operating the startup studio, Once Upon a Time maintains a business accelerator that helps clients efficiently scale up their offerings. Effective use of data and technology enables the accomplishment of both ambitious goals.
A Suite of Key Support Services
To get each client’s SaaS product to the marketplace, Once Upon a Time offers pitch deck advisory services along with fundraising execution. The company also provides a targeted content marketing strategy that enables the startup to cultivate mutually beneficial relationships with prospects and customers.
Finally, Once Upon a Time recognizes that talented, dedicated employees are integral to successful launch and growth strategy implementation. Toward that end, this innovative startup studio assists clients in recruiting these key team members.
Venturenox is a SaaS-focused startup studio for founders who want to accelerate their validation and scale-up efforts. Based in Pakistan and with an office in New York, the company was established in 2018.
The studio’s entrepreneurs have high-level expertise in significant disciplines. Concurrently, they possess extensive knowledge of relevant best practices. The studio devotes time and resources to ensure its startup-building processes are thoroughly tested.
Proven Results in Varied Industries
To date, Venturenox has launched over a dozen products. Besides SaaS products and consumer apps, the studio has created game-changing software for the retail, eCommerce, finance, agriculture, and education sectors.
San Francisco-based Wilbur Labs focuses on developing solutions for common industry pain points. Founded in 2016, the firm highlights innovative ideas that can realistically succeed in today’s complex business marketplace. Then, Wilbur Labs’ startup specialists get to work, applying their talent and proven expertise to launch a successful new business.
A Proven Leader Manages Each Project
First, the Wilbur Labs team analyzes the viability of each emerging product or service. Assuming the offering passes this rigorous test, a leader with applicable target market experience steps aboard to manage this new venture. Wilbur Labs also furnishes operational support, additional financial capital, and other needed resources.
Besides bringing new businesses into the marketplace, Wilbur Labs’ investment arm furnishes capital to other growing companies. For perspective, Wilbur Labs has helped form (or invested in) over 20 new businesses to date.
Careful Startup Studio Selection is Key
Choosing the right SaaS startup studio can lay the foundation for a successful launch. Some startup studios also offer business accelerator advisory services. Founders should consider the studio’s offerings, and evaluate leaders’ alignment with the founder’s business philosophy, before making a final decision.