Discover more from Venture Studio Index
Venture Studio Index - Dec. 12, 2022
A few bearish signals, PSL's thesis on generative AI, 50+ CEO roles, 5 new studios and 54 new startups
Welcome to Venture Studio Index - data and research on the venture studio industry. The free, public database of venture studios and their startups is here. If you aren’t subscribed, join the hundreds of studio executives, EIRs and CEOs reading each week:
Venture studio news
A major venture studio conducted layoffs last week. Talent recruiting/sourcing was the primary department impacted, so if you’re a venture studio hiring for talent professionals with experience recruiting startup CEOs/CTOs then reply to this email, and I’ll pass along. Individuals are located in NYC, Texas, Florida, New Jersey, California, Pittsburg, Columbus and Boston.
Union Square Ventures partner, Albert Wenger, says venture studios were a “sign of the top:”
“To me one of the clearest signs of the top was that everybody was raising incubation funds. It was like "Oh, I'm raising a bunch of money for incubation." I'm like, "oh, I remember that I raised some incubation money at the height of the dot-com bubble." And when you get to the point where investors think-which was me at one point-that you don't even need entrepreneurs, that's kind of a really good sign it's the top.”
(The Information - $)
Back in 2011, Wenger wrote an interesting essay arguing the only type of venture studios that work are “foundries” by seasoned entrepreneurs who want to launch a few companies at the same time:
They are vehicles that let highly successful founders start multiple companies in parallel or rapid sequence. These companies are the founders’ ideas and the founders start out with 100% of the equity. They usually put in a relatively small amount of money themselves, quickly recruit a high class management team and build enough to be able to attract top-tier outside investors. What is critical to the success of foundries is the strength and connectedness of the founders. Without that it becomes impossible to attract strong teams and outside capital early in the process.
Very few people have enough of a track record (and are great at picking ideas) to pull this off.…If you try to customize your offering for each startup and work with outside teams and their ideas, you wind up with both moral hazard and adverse selection problems of huge magnitudes. These incubators attract teams that are not strong enough to make it on their own (adverse selection) and expend too many resources for too long on concepts that are not getting traction (moral hazard). On top of that you don’t even have the control to make the changes that would be required to fix things.
I believe that the ecosystem at any point can sustain only a handful of accelerators and foundries. The fall off curve beyond those will be dramatic as by spreading out resources you diminish the likelihood of success (as we all know, starting just one successful business is super hard).
His examples of foundries that work were AlleyCorp and Idealab, which indeed did very well and produced a lot of good exits over the last decade (Continuations)
Pioneer Square Labs published a post on the areas they’re investing related to Generative AI (PSL)
Case study of a design sprint run by an AI startup last year that helped it find product market fit. The 5 day process moved from interviews to wireframe to simulation, which gave the startup conviction on what to build. This case study was part of the startup, Phaidra’s, recent $25mm Series A announcement. The piece was written by one of Phaidra’s VCs but the process has applications for the venture studio ideation process (Spring Stories)
We recently published data on November venture studio performance, and nearly all of the top growers were in Cybersecurity and Healthcare (Venture Studio Index)
Interesting job descriptions
Update: we have created a new page tracking every venture studio CEO role. This is a great resource for founders interested in partnering with a venture studio, and for anyone interested in themes of startups in development.
AI Fund - Founder-in-Residence, AI Career Coach
“The AI Career Coach is transforming the college recruitment process for graduate students.
From day one of their college experience, the AI Career Coach works backwards with students from their graduation date. The AI powered career coach makes personalized career recommendations for each student and identifies key goals they must complete to stay on track and find a job by their desired date.
Decreasing the manual effort involved in a job search, the career coach automates applications, outreach to the students’ networks, and scheduling.”
“Identity and Access Management is an exploding market. However, nearly all solutions in this industry target the enterprise as the end customer. At AI Fund, we believe that Identity should be controlled by the individual, not the enterprise. With the emergence and maturation of AI, blockchain, and ubiquitous computing, the time is right for enabling individuals to regain control of their own digital and physical lives.”
AI Fund - Founder-in-Residence
“There are many scenarios in which marketers may solicit 100s or 1000s of pieces of freetext responses from users, such as:
- Market research to shape the definition of new products.
- Reducing customer churn by reaching out proactively to specific customers to solicit feedback.
- Soliciting user feedback on current products.
Long-form multiple choice surveys have a low response rate. We have developed a new capability for marketers that enables them to synthesize user insights out of a collection of thousands or tens of thousands pieces of unstructured text written by users/customers/potential customers. In that synthesizing process, be able to predict customer desires, pain points and potential churn.”
Redesign Health - Chief Executive Officer, Sinope
“We are launching a software solution that streamlines clinical trial financial management workflows by addressing core operational and administrative frictions to reduce sponsor costs and trial delays. Clinical trial financial management workflows still rely on a combination of paper records, disparate spreadsheets and primitive software. This underpins the largely manual processes, fragmented/siloed data and lack of insights, which force sponsors to be reactive rather than proactive, contributing to avoidable trial delays and increased costs. Targeting the root cause of much of the inefficiency that exists today, StealthCo (Clinical Trial Finance Mgmt) is a planning and analytics platform built specifically for clinical trial sponsors.”
TandemLaunch - Chief Executive Officer of ChillSkyn
“ChillSkyn’s vision is to mitigate global warming impacts through the large-scale deployment of coatings that can achieve Passive Daytime Radiative Cooling (PDRC). ChillSkyn is backed by TandemLaunch with $800k in the financing, with its next financing round scheduled for mid-2023.”
Submit new venture studio roles to email@example.com or reply to this email.
See every venture studio CEO role for a list of nearly 50 active startups in development.
CEO talent + passion areas
We regularly speak with founders open to partnering with studios in their next company. We are developing a recruiting service to help studios connect with potential founders who have told us they are passionate about the area where a studio is building.
These U.S. based founders have all had a prior exit and/or are VPs of a major division in a tech company. They are passionate about starting companies in the following areas:
B2B SaaS for marketing and sales ops teams
Consumer business focused on evolution of consciousness
Culture travel (e.g., connecting travelers with locals for guided tours)
Picks and shovels businesses for psychedelic medicine
Precision fermentation / cellular agriculture
Sustainable civic construction
Workflow software with embedded lending for construction, manufacturing or restaurants
If you are a venture studio building in any of the above spaces and would like to connect to these founders, email firstname.lastname@example.org or reply to this email.
We added 5 additional venture studios and 54 startups to the database, which now totals 388 studios and 1,829 startups.
Submit studios and startups to email@example.com or reply to this email