Startup Battle: Accelerators vs Studios

Comparison of 21 companies from top accelerators and 21 companies of top startup studios. Who has the biggest…?


TL;DR:

  • The top companies from top accelerators raise on average 105% more money ($214MM) than top startup studio companies ($104MM);
  • Companies from accelerators employ on average 333 people, while studio companies 285;
  • However, the average MatterMark growth score of studio companies is 740, which is 26% higher than companies from accelerators (587);
  • Which might suggest, that fueling the growth of a studio company is much more cost efficient than fueling growth of a startup form a top accelerator.
  • If you want to learn more about these venture builders, get my quick-to-read ebooklet called Anatomy of Startup Studios.

Numbers game

We already know, that startup studios (a.k.a. venture builders, startup factories) are on the rise. I was wondering, how do these companies perform compared to companies of top accelerators?

To find out, I selected 21 pre-exit companies from 7 accelerators , and 21 companies created by venture builders. I did my best to select the best and biggest from each pool. Then I looked at data in CrunchBase, MatterMark, Linkedin and did some excel magic.

Here’s the list of accelerator companies:

  • 500 Startups: Life360, Smule, Zozi;
  • Angelpad: Crittercism, Postmates, Vungle;
  • Seedcamp: Mailcloud, Property Partner, TransferWise;
  • Startupbootcamp: Mint Solutions, The Eye, Tribe TrialBee;
  • Techstars: DigitalOcean, Sphero, PillPack;
  • Wayra: Ensygnia, Trustev, Wayin;
  • Y Combinator: AirBnB, Dropbox, Stripe.

And the list of startup studio companies:

  • 212 Media: Saavn, Speakaboos, Sportsvite;
  • Archimedes Labs: Just.me Inc, Kwicr, Quixey;
  • Betaworks: Chartbeat, Giphy, Socialflow;
  • HVF: Affirm, Glow;
  • Idealab: New Matter, Ubermedia, PerfectMarket;
  • Lightbank: Belly;
  • Rocket Internet: Dafiti, Lazada, Hellofresh;
  • Science: August, Dollar Shave Club, Dogvacay.

(You can get the source data form here. )


Funding

When it comes to measuring startups, one of the most important (at least talked about) metric is total funding. So let’s see, how these companies do…

Total funding of companies from accelerators vs studios

There’s little surprise here. YC and Rocket companies occupy 6 places in the top 10.

Total funding of companies in comparison
Average funding of companies

Also as you can see, companies from top accelerators raised 105% more than studio companies.

Employment

It’s also worth to note how many people these companies employ.

Employment info, based on Linked In
Total number of employees

In this category, the differences are more subtle. Companies from accelerators employ 17% more people than studio companies.

Growth

When it comes to growth, comparing different companies is a big challenge. To tackle this, I looked at the MatterMark growth score. It tracks multiple signals (web traffic, inbound links, social network interactions…) on a weekly basis. The higher the better.

Growth index

This chart is intriguing. Especially if you cross check the results with the funding data.

Growth score per funding

It seems, that companies created by startup studios can achieve higher growth score from the same amount of money, compared to companies from accelerators.

Growth efficiency?

If true, this could be proof that:

Startup studios are indeed a more efficient way of building startups.

Limitations

Please keep in mind, that the above comparison has some limitations:

  • The selection of accelerators, studios and companies was arbitrary (although I tried my best to select them without partiality);
  • This comparison can be only as valid as validity the publicly available data;

I somehow hope that someone will be deeply unsatisfied with my comparison, and will spend time on a analyzing a much wider data set. If you do, please let me know, I’d be happy to read it. :)

Next steps

Since this post, I had the chance to interview the most exciting startup studios and gather their insight. And now you can read all this, and get answers to questions like:

Startup Studio Playbook
  • Who are the studio founders;
  • How are are studios funded;
  • Where do they take ideas;
  • How they are organized;
  • What are their exit strategies;
  • What are the pros and cons;
  • How different startup studios operate across the Globe;
  • How corporations can leverage the benefits of the model?

Visit www.startupstudioplaybook.com for more.

And in 2017 I’ll continue my research into the startup studio efficiency topic.