Top 10 Venture Studios for 2023
Understanding the top venture studios in this space provides useful insights into what separates the best from the rest of the pack.
A strong entrepreneurial spirit exists across the global business community, driven by a variety of factors, including the transformational impact provided by multiple technology innovations, such as AI, the cloud, and mobile device proliferation. In fact, different types of businesses serve as incubators for this multitude of new startups, including the startup studio, also known as the venture studio.
The top venture studios typically boast multiple startups formulating in their oven at one time. This scenario requires the existence of a talented and proactive management team with the ability to juggle multiple responsibilities at any one time. Understanding the top companies in this space provides useful insights on what separates the best from the rest of the pack. So here’s a high-level overview of some of the top venture studios for 2023.
Founded in 2012 by Jack Abraham, San Francisco-based Atomic follows a disruptive ideology combined with an industry-honed methodology to form new businesses. This merging of innovative ideas, talented IT and business professionals, capital, in addition to other critical resources raises the chances for startup success. This studio boasts an experienced team of entrepreneurial experts with top-shelf skills in all aspects of company building.
Jack Abraham still serves as Managing Partner and CEO for Atomic. He commented on the studio’s overall mission. "There has never been a better time to start a company and our mission is to encourage more people to choose entrepreneurship. The world can be better when more people build the future we want together," said Abraham. His statement especially resonates considering the recent growth of new business creation and the subsequent expansion of the venture studio concept. Venture and startup studios continue to lower the inherent risk of forming new businesses.
Abraham’s two major startup successes with Atomic have to be “Hims and Hers” and Bungalow. The former company, provider of health care and similar products, enjoys a status as the second fastest company to reach a $1 billion valuation. Bungalow remains a top competitor to Airbnb as a service for renting vacation properties. Jack’s educational background includes a stint at the Wharton School as a Joseph Warton Scholar. Notably, he ended up designing his own major at Wharton in Technological Entrepreneurship.
Some of Atomic’s other notable “founded and funded” businesses include Homebound, Remrise, and Paravision.
Betaworks saw its genesis in 2008, formed by John Borthwick. This product-focused venture studio located in New York City aims to build a succession of leading-edge Internet companies. Their current focus lies in a variety of state of the art tech innovations, including web3, crypto media, NLP/CV, and applied machine learning. Borthwick’s background includes a stint as SVP of Alliances and Technology Strategy for Time Warner Inc.; CEO of Fotolog, one of the first social photo sharing sites; and head of AOL’s product development studio.
The studio is known for its Betaworks Camp, a “thematic residency” programs for startups and other early-stage businesses. Started in 2016, it continues to provide an opportunity for the Betaworks team to work closely with emerging companies in a variety of market niches with a focus on what it calls “frontier technology.” This “hands-on” approach remains one of most critical benefits any venture studio offers to startups under their wing.
A separate venture capital wing, known as Betaworks Ventures, also helps the studio support interesting new businesses. Some of the former startups receiving funding include famous technology names, like Twitter, Tumblr, and Kickstarter. Speaking of Twitter, Betaworks also built the popular Tweetdeck dashboard tool completely in-house.
Betaworks boasts a strong portfolio of successful emerging businesses highlighted by companies like Streem, Unsplash, and Anchor, which also rank among the studio’s most notable incubated startups.
Jon Bradford formed the Colab venture studio in 2013 with their headquarters located in Los Angeles. Bradford is known as a top angel investor in Los Angeles’ startup community with a track record including over 100 built companies spanning multiple industries. The company employs a collection of best of breed designers and technology professionals given direction by the organization’s top-shelf strategic team. In addition to bootstrapping startup businesses, they also work with established companies and brands to help supercharge those businesses’ 21st Century growth potential.
Notably, Colab boasts over $2 billion in combined portfolio exits over its history. Their history also includes the 100 companies mentioned earlier, as well as over $500 million in raised startup capital. The studio focuses on assisting startups with a three-pronged approach, including product development assistance, capital funding, and brand building. This assistance allows entrepreneurs and startup founders to focus on executing their vision for success.
The Colab team includes a strong mix of innovative technology professionals, business leaders, and marketing experts. They also offer meaningful support to their incubated companies after launch. Some of their leading emerging businesses include the cannabis business incubator, TheChronicCo, the branding service for creatives, Social BlueBook, and the popular free TV streaming service, Pluto TV. Colab’s robust portfolio also includes Scriptera, HighReach, and NoCap.
With locations in Phoenix and Los Angeles, Coplex began operations in 2018, founded by Anthony Johnson, Ilya Pozin, Nikola Mickic, and Zach Ferres. This studio focuses on designing and managing other corporate startup studios; working with founders, investors, and even other established businesses. Their well-honed experience allows them to turn this process into something repeatable, efficient, and relatively risk free.
The studio takes pride in what they call a “stage gated approach to venture building.” Their strategy includes four disparate stages:
- Discovery: Effectively combining ideation and the exploration of business sector pain points, with the goal of finding new opportunities while also understanding the inherent risks.
- Design and Validation: After devising a promising business model, the concept undergoes a rigorous and thorough vetting process to determine its potential viability within the relevant target market.
- Invest and Launch: Raise the necessary capital to fund the early stage business, while aligning goals with the founders and their partners.
- Growth: Provide the core operating team with the necessary support to ensure growth, including access to Coplex’s Trusted Partner Network.
As an incubator for new startup studios, Coplex regularly partners with larger businesses by providing them insights on corporate innovation. This approach provides a measure entrepreneurial spirit to companies that might be stuck in their ways. Notably, the studio also regularly partners with philanthropic organizations. Their portfolio includes businesses like Payper, Yellow Bird, Nurseio, and Steady Install.
NineTwoThree Venture Studio
Founded in 2012 by partners Andrew Amann and Pavel Kirillov, Boston’s NineTwoThree Venture Studio features state of the art technology know-how combined with unique experience forming startups in multiple business sectors. They also operate using the agency builder model; performing work for other businesses in a variety of industry domains. Their team boasts significant experience transforming promising business ideas into successful digital ventures, including mobile apps and interactive websites.
Thought leaders in the emerging venture studio space, NineTwoThree regularly advises entrepreneurs and emerging companies on the best practices for transforming the spark of an idea into a thriving company. Additionally, their previously mentioned agency builder experience, completing projects for third-party businesses, continues to inform their ever-expanding knowledge base. It ultimately provides them with the flexibility to provide innovative technology solutions for businesses ranging from new startups to venerable large enterprises.
The agency recently partnered with the team at Dock on their Workspaces web-based application used by businesses to manage collaboration and sharing with clients, partners, and other outside organizations. This project illustrates NineTwoThree’s flexible approach, able to offer project management and software engineering services to a startup looking to make an impact. Whatever a client needs, NineTwoThree combines tech chops with insightful business experience to solve pressing problems. Hydrofinity, Altar Live, Dishare, and the Dorel Baby Monitor include some of the other highlights of NineTwoThree’s strong portfolio.
Pioneer Square Labs
A Seattle-based venture studio, Pioneer Square Labs began operations in 2015, formed by Ben Gilbert, Mike Galgon, Greg Gottesman, and Geoff Entress. In addition to bootstrapping new businesses, the studio also provides venture capital resources to other startups. Their operations focus on bringing together top-shelf entrepreneurial talent, massive ideas with promise, and the necessary venture capital to build new organizations able to change the world.
Studio co-founder, Greg Gottesman commented on their chosen location in the Pacific Northwest. “The Pacific Northwest is home to incredible engineering talent, which is at the core of most great technology companies. I think that really separates us from everywhere else in the world but the Valley,” noted Gottesman. He also feels technology talent from this region tends to be more loyal compared to other locales. This is an important point during this era of historically high-end demand for software engineers and designers.
The company recently highlighted their investment in Far Homes, a real estate company serving the growing expatriate community in Mexico looking to put down roots. On the technology innovation side, PSL also contributes to the advancements provided by Generative AI, including the automated generation of both text and imagery. It’s part of the studio’s goal of applying emerging technologies to solve pressing problems in multiple domains. Some of the other notable companies in their portfolio include Gradient, Attunely, and Big Box.
2007 saw the formation of Rocket Internet, founded in Berlin by Marc Samwer, Oliver Samwer, Alexander Samwer, and Fabio Tran. The studio focuses on enabling entrepreneurs by investing in their Internet and technology companies located all over the world. They use well-honed repeatable processes to incubate new startups while providing venture capital funding and other operational support services, including IT and business analysis.
Oliver Samwer noted their studio fosters entrepreneurship with a goal to “build and invest in great technology companies globally and provide a unique blend of operational support and capital.” Before forming Rocket Internet, Samwer enjoyed a robust career in entrepreneurial pursuits, including co-founding Alando in Germany before selling them to eBay. He then became Managing Director for eBay Germany, Switzerland and Austria. In 2000, he co–founded Jamba and sold them to VeriSign in 2004. Since 2006, he made numerous investment in some of the tech world’s leading lights, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Groupon, Zalando, Funding Circle, and Lazada.
One popular company leveraging investment from Rocket Internet is the German-formed prepared meal business, HelloFresh, now making significant inroads within the United States. At the same time, Rocket’s internal operations team includes many professionals with experience forming successful technology-based startups. This knowledge base benefits both incubated startups and companies receiving investment support. Their portfolio of incubated companies includes also includes other highlights, like Nestpick, Home 24, and the Global Savings Group.
In 2016, Phil Santoro and David Kolodny founded the Wilbur Labs venture studio in San Francisco. The business creates market-leading companies by identifying critical pain points within multiple industry domains and forming startup organizations to solve these issues. They also hire leadership talent with experience in the targeted business domain to run the emerging startups, while providing funding, other resources, and operational support.
Founders Santoro and Kolodny maintain an active presence on social media. Of note is their YouTube video series, Founder FAQ, which premiered a few months ago. The series focuses on topics of interest to entrepreneurs and others involved in the global startup community. Notably, their episode on the startup ideation process garnered over 56,000 views over the past two months. Not surprisingly, both feel research remains the most important step when launching any new company. The two also cover the types of startups worth forming, including the current demand and profit potential for each.
When considering some of the top startups incubated at Wilbur Labs, OpenMedicare comes to the forefront. The service helps remove some of the inherent confusion found when vetting different Medicare plans. It provides customers with the necessary information to help them make this critical decision based on their specific needs. Additionally, their portfolio includes other successful new companies like Barkbus, Joblist, and Vitabox.
Located in Laguna Beach, CA, Mark S. McNally founded Nobody Studios in 2020. The organization serves to bring together entrepreneurs, investors, and creative talent to forge new modern organizations able to make a meaningful human connection. In addition to incubating a large number of successful startup businesses, the company also hopes to make a positive impact across the globe.
With a challenging goal of forming 100 new companies in five years, Nobody Studios focuses on disrupting the process of new business formation. Optimizing the process of business creation requires talented business and technology professionals collaborating at a high velocity. The studio’s business model also strives to bridge any gaps between investors, entrepreneurs, in addition to creative and technical talent. Even crowd sourcing informs some of their internal processes.
McNally recently commented on the studio’s progress towards achieving their 100 new company goal. “As of September 2022, we have fourteen companies in development, with nine at launch or ready for launch within six months. We are in acquisition discussions with three additional companies, and we’re actively investigating dozens of exciting new company ideas for 2023, while our idea board holds the keys to hundreds more,” noted McNally. As such, their portfolio continues to expand, including emerging businesses like SweatOptions, Parentipity, and Ovationz.
Santa Monica, CA is the home of Science, formed in 2011 by Greg Gilman, Michael Jones, Mike Macadaan, Peter Pham, and Tom Dare. This venture studio leverages a centralized platform to combine top-shelf ideas for new businesses with the funding, operational, and technology support they need for success.
Science calls itself a “multi-asset investment firm,” featuring both a startup studio as well as a separate venture capital wing. Many other startup studios also leverage this two-pronged approach for assisting entrepreneurs and their emerging businesses. “We invest in and build the next generation of companies shaping the future. We bring together the best ideas, talent and financing through a centralized platform that helps us uncover trends we can share across the entire portfolio,” as noted on the studio’s website.
In the end, Science focuses on nurturing the brands in their portfolio from the idea stage all the way to launch. This includes the mountain water company known as Liquid Death. That brand recently earned a spot on AdAge’s esteemed 2022 Marketers of the Year list. Their portfolio of startup successes also includes The Good Patch, Dog Vacay, and Kyoku.
But why stop there? Here are two bonus studios making waves.
Cofounded in 2011, eFounders quickly became one of the big movers and shakers in the venture studio space. Now rebranding as the Hexa project, this studio has expertise in healthcare, education and more.
Some of their most notable projects include Cohort, Roundtable and Mention to name a few examples. By 2021 they had been part of or launched over thirty companies, and their work's portfolio valuation would reach the milestone of $2 billion soon after.
eFounders promotes a new method of company building, one that involves building companies in parallel (launching multiple startups at once) and doing so as a team even in early-stage startups. Much of their goal is to have these companies become independent just 12-18 months after being launched.
By combining company building with venture funding to conceive, launch, and scale B2B SaaS companies, High Alpha has quickly become a leading venture studio.
Like eFounders they were cofounded (albeit in 2015), and have founded over thirty companies along with talented founders. Focused mainly on large corporations, High Alpha has launched multiple successful projects from Amplio for supply chain sourcing to Athian which funds livestock sustainability.
If you have a compelling idea for a new business able to change the world, an experienced partner remains critical for the success of your startup. This list of venture studios provides an excellent start for finding the support and capital your idea needs to be developed and eventually become successful.
When searching for a top-ranked venture studio, look no further than the team at NineTwoThree. We boast the broad domain expertise and technical chops to help transform your concept into reality. Connect with us soon!