By Craig Kronenberger 

The startup world can be daunting — and for good reason. Launching a business from scratch requires adequate time and resources, as well as a savvy team of experts that can help inform important decisions along the way. Moreover, about 21% of startups fail within the first year due to operational issues, trouble with funding, and inadequate teams and staff. And while launching a startup can be full of obstacles and high-risk decisions, when done well, the reward can be huge. 

Luckily, these challenges can be minimized in order to reduce the risk that comes along with creating a new business from the ground up. Over the past few years, startup studios have become one of the most buzz-worthy topics in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, as many studios have been able to produce incredible results and help with the growth of some of the best nascent companies around the world. 

But first, what is a startup studio? 

A startup studio (also commonly called a venture studio or venture builder) is an organization that fosters business ideas or internally creates business opportunities and then provides the resources and world-class entrepreneurial human capital necessary to build innovative companies from scratch. 

Startup studios are different from other business models, such as venture capital or angel investors, in that they provide a very hands-on approach to every stage of the business development process, while also offering an abundance of resources and expert strategic counsel that can lead founders to make the best decisions possible. Another great resource that startup studios offer is that their funding method allows founders to spend more time focusing on the concept ideation and development rather than finding investors to back up their ideas.

Like VC firms, startup studios provide funding for early-stage startups but differ in that studios also assign members of their own internal teams to help build the business alongside the original founders, whereas the VC primarily provides capital. And while oftentimes startup studios act as “investing co-founders” working with existing founders, there are other studios that build their business ideas internally and then find the right team that can take it to the next level. Given their focus on various types of startups, studios are able to gather specialists from different industries, offer a well-defined startup validation process, and a vast collection of resources and partners that help minimize the costs and risks that a startup would encounter while accelerating the path to market.

Startup studios today have created a number of successful products and services that you have probably heard of, or even used yourself.

Startup Studio Insider, a platform dedicated to providing resources and information about startup studios, has put together a list of some of the best startup studios to watch in 2021. Here we will focus on three startup studios, and their most successful companies, that were chosen based on their diverse portfolio and unique approach.

  • Atomic 

Founded in 2012 by Jack Abraham, this startup studio offers a team built by serial entrepreneurs and operators that have guided the success and growth of 10 companies including Hims&Hers, a company dedicated to making personal wellness accessible and affordable.

Atomic realized that reliable personalized healthcare was not always available for everyone and took this as an opportunity to tackle an industry gap. The studio built an online service that allows customers to get customized treatments and medications at reasonable prices without the need to leave their homes. 

  • Wilbur Labs

Wilbur Labs was only founded in 2016 but is already making huge strides in the startup studio space by developing groundbreaking companies. The San Francisco-based studio delivers a strategic business model that focuses on working closely with a selected group of promising startups in order to deliver the best results possible. 

Through this model, Wilbur Labs’ founders Phil Santoro and David Kolodny saw an opportunity in their love for travel to consolidate the arduous steps in searching and booking the perfect vacation accommodations. The result was VacationRenter. Recently, VacationRenter announced that it had reached $1B in gross bookings over the past year, making it the fastest-growing travel startup in the market. 

  • Science

Science is a studio located in Santa Monica, California that was co-founded by Greg Gilman, Michael Jones, Mike Macadaan, Peter Pham, and Tom Dare in 2011. The studio promises to build the future by investing in companies that will shape up the next generation. Their diverse portfolio ranges from mobile media companies to retail and technology. However, Dollar Shave Club has arguably become one of the largest successes to come out of Science. 

By offering a solution to a common consumer pain point — running out of grooming products at the wrong time and struggling to find the best products at reasonable prices — Science positioned Dollar Shave Club as a convenient service that delivers razors and other hygiene products right to the door of its customers on a monthly basis. Their early success led to the company’s acquisition by Unilever for $1 billion in 2016.  

Startup studios have created new opportunities in entrepreneurship and are expected to continue growing and innovating for years to come. From ideation, tech builds, marketing, branding strategies, talent acquisition, and revenue generation, the startup studio is designed to propel companies forward with a lower-risk, high-reward mindset. To learn more about Startup Studios, check out Startup Studio Insider.