You might be more familiar with startup studios than you think. Today, more than ever, companies are seeking help from startup studios around the world. Studios offer a unique value by bringing or developing great ideas, using technology and funding to build MVPs, and going through the process of validating these MVPs in the real world. For the last couple of years, this model has revolutionized the way companies are built, which has caught the attention of both seasoned entrepreneurs and the younger generation.
Many exciting and popular platforms and services have in fact been launched by several top startup studios from all over the world. Each company developed by this model has its own unique characteristics and qualities that have made them as successful as they are.
Startup studios are created to scale ideas to lunch in a fraction of the time it would take a normal startup to get on its feet. They work with co-founders to provide resources in the areas of finance, professional guidance, and production assistance. Studios can be found all around the world, each working in markets that best suit them. Check out some of our studio spotlights and see what these studios are doing in the ecosystem.
Today, we are sharing five of the top startups created from the startup studio model. Keep reading to learn more about what made them successful and why the studio model worked for them.
Founders: Alex Chung and Jace Cooke
Launched by Betaworks in 2013, the initial idea came about over breakfast conversations around visual communication. Giphy became a product of some hacking experiments between the founders. Betaworks helped nurture the idea with $1 million in seed funding. Ever since its launch, Giphy has had wild success being ranked as a top 100 website during its first year and eventually sold for $400 million in 2020 to Meta.
While animated GIFs have existed for quite some time, Giphy took it a step further by creating a search engine for them. This search engine was designed for self-expression through moving images and short videos laced with emotions such as humor and excitement. People often send these “GIFs” to friends, family, and co-workers congratulating them on a job well done or simply making someone laugh and smile.
Founders: Mark Levine and Michael Dubin
Studio: Science Inc
Dollar Shave Club was founded in 2011, by Science Inc. startup studio. The idea came about during a party where Levine and Dubin met and discussed some shared frustration with the cost of razors. Initially, this idea was not one that sparked a ton of interest due to questions around profit margins. With a partnership that combines digital marketing skills and sales they quickly become successful. Science invested $100,000 and saw a significant return by 2014 when dollar Shave Club had reached over $65 million in sales. The company was sold to Unilever in 2016 for $1 billion.
This uniquely crafted razor subscription service offers razors for as little as $1 a month. Eliminating their target audience's need to run to the store, the razors are shipped directly to the customer monthly. They sought to cut through the noise of traditionally high-priced men's grooming products. Customers are able to customize their subscriptions to fit their needs, following in the footsteps of other subscription services.
Founders: Andrew Dudum, Hilary Coles, Jack Abraham, and Joe Spector
Hims & Hers was founded in 2017 in San Francisco, California. This company was formed on breaking the stigmas that surround sexual health and wellness. What started with just Hims, solely focused on men's issues, was expanded to include Hers, an addition to the company that would focus on women's issues through access to birth control pills. With the help of Atomic, the brand reached insane growth, being the second-fastest growing DTC (direct to consumer) brand to reach a billion-dollar value. The company closed a deal for $1.6 billion with Oaktree Capital Management, making them go public. In 2021, Hims and Hers became available on Amazon to increase their accessibility. Their sleek and appealing packaging is drawing in consumers left and right.
Hims & Hers, a doctor-backed telehealth platform, is changing the way people are able to access healthcare. What started with just sexual health and haircare supplements, has now expanded into other areas such as mental health and therapy. The goal of the products was to offer a modernized, personalized, and convenient health and wellness for their customers.
Founders: Tom Ryan, Ilya Pozin, and Nick Grouf
Pluto TV was founded through Coplex in 2013 by the three co-founders in Los Angeles, CA. In 2019 the company was sold for $340 million to Viacom, which included being launched on both Comcast and Xfinity. They have grown to have over 170 content partnerships and 250 channels, quickly becoming a top video-on-demand service under the ownership of Paramount Streaming.
Pluto TV is a video-on-demand service that is supported by advertisements. This allows them to offer their viewers free shows and movies. Pluto TV can be accessed worldwide in seven different languages, with many countries' users having access through their mobile devices. Channels include a variety of content including game shows, lifestyle, and reality.
Founders: Phil Santoro and David Kolodny
Studio: Wilbur Labs
VacationRenter launched in 2018 with Wilbur Labs, located in San Francisco, California. Wilbur Labs helped fund the brand with $3 million in financing. After launching in February, by May 2018 they had already reached over $100 million in the gross annual booking value. They have even been featured in USA Today, FastCompany, and Forbes for their approach to helping people travel worldwide.
VacationRenter was created to help eliminate the hassle and time-consuming process of scrolling through pages of vacation rental properties. They do this through an automation process, showing customers personalized results found across the web. Recently, they have announced new updates including expanding inventory partners, the ability to translate the site into six new languages, and the addition of six thousand points of interest worldwide.
We are continuously on the lookout for studios scaling companies beyond the imaginable! As this model expands at a rapid pace we anticipate more companies experiencing similar levels of growth in the near future.
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