Acceleration, redefined: Introducing the R/GA Venture Studio

For more than a decade, accelerators and incubators have played a critical role in bringing startups to life. The best programs help entrepreneurs understand what business they’re actually in, achieve product/market fit, and do what’s necessary to scale (from hiring to fundraising).

When we launched the R/GA Accelerator in 2013, we adopted much of the traditional accelerator format: fixed-duration programs, 10-company cohorts, co-location (at R/GA), significant mentor input, capital investment, and culmination in a demo day.

But we very quickly realized that we could add value to the innovation ecosystem by evolving the format in ways that better leverage the assets of R/GA.

So, our programs now feature elements that redefine acceleration.

First, we build our programs around strategic themes — IoT, Commerce, Marketing Tech, Sports and Entertainment Tech, Media Tech, etc. Second, we collaborate with corporate program partners who are aligned with a theme to structure and refine each program idea. Third, we are stage-agnostic, meaning we customize our programs for companies from pre-seed through Series B and beyond. Fourth, our programs have a rolling admissions cycle, enabling companies to join our program whenever the timing is right. Fifth, although we offer space during our programs (and after), we do not require the companies to risk the disruption of relocating for the entire duration of the program.

In addition, the companies in each of our programs have access to R/GA’s 2,000+ award-winning staff who work across our global network. We curate a purpose-built team for each company in each of our programs, drawing potentially from any skill set in the agency — strategists and experience designers, technologists and branding experts. They then work intensively alongside the founders, to help young companies build better products and brands. What we do for our Fortune 500 clients, we also do for our program companies.

We call this “creative capital.”

Finally, the companies in our programs also gain exposure and access to R/GA’s global client network of industry leaders across verticals. Our clients participate in our programs, not only as mentors but also as advisors, partners for pilots and POCs, paying customers, and investors. This “client relationship capital” is invaluable to the companies that participate in our programs.

The combination of these significant assets results in programs that are focused on providing business development opportunities to the program companies by curating relationships with our program partners and global client network — not only during the program but on an ongoing basis long afterwards as well. Of course, we still invest in our companies, offering them the financial capital they need to accelerate growth.

Our programs also provide significant value to our program partners and client network. We combine analysis, diligence, and consulting with engagement, partnership, and investment to provide the most comprehensive and effective methodology for our program partners and global clients to achieve strategic innovation. At the same time, our process and program elements significantly de-risk innovation initiatives for our partners.

We look at the portfolio of companies that have participated in our programs as an ecosystem of solutions for R/GA’s program partners and clients. At the same time, R/GA’s program partners and clients are an ecosystem of opportunities for our program companies.

Because of the many unique elements listed above, the win-win dynamic for both program corporate partners and participating companies, and the addition of R/GA creative capital, we decided to rebrand R/GA Ventures programs as “Venture Studios.” We’re not just investors or accelerator operators. We’re hands-on partners that leverage our many assets to help our portfolio companies and corporate partners achieve their strategic objectives not just for the duration of a program, but for the long haul.

We’re excited to see how our studio evolves as time goes on. We hope you’ll follow along here.