Announcing Switchyards Studios (Part 1)

Note: This is the first in a 3-part blog post series about Switchyards Studios. This post will answer the question “What is Switchyards Studios?” The second post will answer the question “Why did we decide to launch a program like this?” And lastly, the third post will answer the question “Who is the ideal candidate for the program?” All Studios content (blog posts, inspirations, photos from the program, etc) can be found at Founder Happy Place.

The inspiration for launching Switchyards Downtown Club was a very personal one for us. Back in 2009 we launched a B2C startup that grew incredibly fast, but we felt like second-class citizens in the local startup community.

With no marketing effort or money, five hundred consumers were signing-up daily for our product…just in Atlanta. Even with this extraordinary traction, the local roadblocks were everywhere.

It took us months to find a good graphic designer (and he quit right before launch). The leaders of the startup community were comfortable with enterprise and security startups, but were never going to take a chance on a startup that relied on consumers, so we had to go outside of town for almost all of the capital (both angel and VC). We didn’t know a single developer, especially one who had any B2C experience. Peers were skeptical, well-known local startup advisors had no experience with consumer startups, marketers were able to do agency work for big companies, but had no experience building a brand or acquiring consumers for a startup. The list went on and on.

This feeling of being fish-out-of-water was the initial inspiration behind the Switchyards community. We wanted to create a place where like-minded startup founders and resources felt at home.

A founder happy place.

The last ten months have been extraordinarily satisfying. Demand is high. The local community focused on consumer & design startups has been galvanized. And this is causing both big & small groups to spring-up to help support the community.

The Atlanta startup community has proven that we have the demand to support multiple startup hubs…even a modest one focused on B2C startups.

But the mission to help create more B2C winners in Atlanta has really only just begun.

In our next blog post we’ll dive deeper into why we decided to launch a program like Switchyards Studios. For this post, we wanted to take a moment to describe the basic details of the program.

At a high level, we think about Switchyards Studios as being right between (a) an agency that builds your brand/product and (b) accelerators/incubators that invest upfront and run startups through a program.

In other words, Switchyards Studios will not only build your initial brand and product, but we’ll also run each startup through a program that mimics how the best founders in the world create new startups. Then we’ll invest in the best ones, so the founders that prove early demand can focus on growth rather than raising capital.

We believed that we could make the most impact if we started working with the founder as early as possible, so Switchyards Studios is focused on idea-stage consumer startups. These are startups that are still in idea form…before any code is written. And, because we have some of the best consumer-focused development and design resources in the city, there’s no need for the founder to be a developer or designer. The only requirement of the founder is that it’s a consumer startup idea that they are passionate about.

The program is 90 days. Each month is focused on a major part of the early-stage idea and is managed by a Switchyards Studios partner. David Payne manages business model validation in Month 1. Michael Tavani manages brand creation in Month 2. And Blake Byrnes manages product development in Month 3. Each month is broken down into a day-to-day schedule to make sure the founder takes the right steps at the right pace.

The entire process is designed to help the founder do the right things in the right order at the right speed to give their idea the highest likelihood of succeeding.

The cost for the program is $25,000 for each startup. The best ideas that emerge from Switchyards Studios will be on a good path to raise outside capital or join a top incubator/accelerator.

If you are non-technical founder in Atlanta with an idea for a consumer startup, Switchyards Studios is the best partner to help you build a product that customers and investors will love.

If this sounds like you, let’s grab coffee at Western & Atlantic to see if there’s a good fit.