Don’t read this if you know what Startup Studios are
At cocktail parties, birthdays, meetups and other smalltalk occasions where people talk about their profession I tell people I work for our startup studio. People nod, showing others they know what that is. However, from personal experience, I know that 9 out of 10 actually can’t tell what it means. Even entrepreneurs and people in the startup scene often can’t explain what keeps us busy. So this post is for all you out there still trying to figure out what a startup studio is :)
A studio is a center for production
In general, a studio is a center for production. For example, take a music studio. It is a facility at which one or more producers produce music, together with musicians. Several musicians and producers use the same facility and everything that comes with it. Similarly, at a startup studio, we produce multiple startups in parallel, providing them with a range of relevant services, resources and let’s not forget: money.
Bottom line, the startup studio model is an approach to building companies. This way of building companies is becoming more and more popular and is otherwise known as venture building, parallel entrepreneurship, and portfolio entrepreneurship.
Studios are not to be misinterpreted as accelerators or incubators. The latter are focussing on investing in- and providing professional services to- startups, often for a fixed period of time. Think of services like mentoring/coaching, providing office space, a network of investors. On the contrary, studios co-found startups together with entrepreneurs, build their products and grow them to companies — several at the same time — in a highly effective environment. In most cases, studios remain involved in later stages of a startups’ lifecycle.
For us, the studio model means a way to reduce the impact of failure and the fear from losing everything after failing. Our team stays intact and moves on to the next project, together with the learnings. Founders also have a multidisciplinary team at their disposal, without the hassle of recruiting everyone. Another pro of working with a studio is that founders don’t lose months of the fixing hygiene factors of a startup, the boring/administrative stuff.
The core activities of a Startup Studio
There are quite some studio’s around, and they all have their own interpretation of the model and core process. Attila Szigeti wrote down the recipe of a studio in his excellent work Startup Studio Playbook. Here are the 7 basic steps to build a startup studio:
- Take a core team & entrepreneurs in residence;
- Add shared infrastructure & in-house funding;
- Generate ideas internally (or in some cases, act as a cofounder);
- Build multiple startups in parallel;
- Trash what doesn’t work, reassign team;
- Spin off what works and get follow-on funding;
- Grow. Exit. Repeat.
What about We Are Builders?
We Are Builders is a startup studio located in The Netherlands. We focus on co-founding startups with Software-as-a-Service or Marketplace products. We have a long-standing history with building online software and native mobile apps. Our team is a balanced pack of developers, mentors, UX/UI designers, copywriters and growth hackers. A mix of expertise every startup will need at some point in time.
A process for developing ideas into companies grew from years of experience, successes, and failures. The process consists of several steps firmly inspired by Lean Startup and agile development methodologies. These steps include ideation, validation, building, hustling and eventually champagne. It’s a challenge to decide who is working on what. Plans that underperform should be killed or pivot early so that our resources can work on other, more promising projects.
We both attract external entrepreneurs to co-found their startups and generate ideas internally. We prefer the latter because it is really — I mean really — hard to find an entrepreneur at the right moment (ready to attract funding and to build a team) and with the right mindset (yeah let’s do this together) and an idea that already has shown some market validation/traction.
We explained what a Startup Studio is, their core activities and where We Are Builders stands.
If you ever want to impress others with what you know about studios, just remember a startup studio is a place where startups are co-founded and built — several at the same time — by a team that already built other startups and know what it takes to successfully build, launch and grow them.
- Startup Studio Playbook — Book by Attila Szigeti