MOHARA is in the business of building tech companies and their innovative tech products. We have identified as a Venture Studio since 2015 and are an active and passionate advocate for the Studio model and community.
The number of studios being founded each year is on the increase. In early 2023 I wanted to ‘put myself about a bit’ and meet the founders of the latest and greatest studios, build connections, discuss theses and introduce MOHARA. You could call it old school networking, just through Google Meet instead of sipping a Peroni and eating pizza in person.
It is worth saying, the vast majority of my conversations were superb. Studio founders are some of the most interesting entrepreneurs I have met and all bring their own experience and view on how to build successful startups.
Following this networking blitz, I started to wonder: since this community is already highly collaborative in knowledge sharing, can we as studios could work together to build better startups? What could we bring each other in terms of skills, experience, thinking to help improve the chances of success.
Before we dig in and in case you are not familiar with Venture Studios I will give a very high level summary of Venture Studios.
Major functions of a Venture Studio:
- Venture Studios specialise in idea generation, idea validation, market testing and analysis, prototyping, MVP creation, new company forming and early stage launch. Typically the first 6 months of an idea to a NewCo being formed.
- They headhunt and recruit a CEO / Managing Director for the NewCo
- The newly recruited CEO is parachuted into the business and the NewCo can begin its post Studio journey (albeit with involvement from the Studio in most cases)
- The NewCo is capitalised with funds from a capital pot e.g. a side car fund. Or the studio takes on the role of fundraising externally.
In most cases the new CEO has total autonomy and is now responsible for getting things moving fast. Anyone who has been involved in startup land will know that this early stage can be full on and you are required to wear multiple hats. Staff need to be hired, GTM strategies need to be devised, product roadmaps need planning and tech product needs building etc.
- Could MOHARA partner with other Venture Studios. Combining the strengths of MOHARA with the strengths of the founder Studios. Most studios have a specialism or focus and that provides great value and advantage. MOHARA is a vastly experienced early stage product builder and we have invested in 30+ companies. Sum of the parts and all that.
In late 2023, we launched VSP (Venture Studio Partner) following positive market research and discussions with Venture Studios. We are currently collaborating with three Studios to build better businesses together.
How our collaborations work:
- Studios produce a validated idea that they wish to launch to market. They have followed their thesis and taken the concept through rigorous testing and analysis.
- In most cases, MVP prototypes have been built internally (although we have built a few MVPS as well as the capability to do so was not available within the Founder Studio).
- Funding is put in place to launch the new startup beyond the Studio. Go time!
- The Founding Studio and MOHARA begin to transfer knowledge, discuss the startup, what the market is saying, what the opportunity is and how the collaboration will work.
- In most cases we are bringing our extensive early stage business building experience coupled with our product building capability; the ‘how’ to the Founding Studio’s ‘why’.
Why it is working:
- MOHARA takes the product build pressure off the internal Studio team post MVP allowing the Founding Studio to divert valuable resources to the next concept that needs validating.
- Over time, and across products, we build a close relationship and develop unique ways of working between studio and MOHARA – much like their own internal team.
- If the Founding Studio has no MVP product building capability in house, MOHARA can take that on without adding to the fixed costs of the Studio.
- Once a go or no-go decision is reached, MOHARA provides a ready-made experienced team to continue the development of the product while an internal team is sourced by the new CEO. Hiring great product teams is difficult. Our collaboration removes that. We anticipate our involvement will last 12 -18 months as the startup pushes for growth and a potential Series A.
- We recognised early on that having a flexible Studio-to-Studio engagement model was necessary. The majority of our collaborations are at a discounted long term partnership rate. We also have the option to work at cost for an equity position (as per our Venture model) though to date most Studio cap tables do not permit that, and that is ok.
Why do I like this? MOHARA loves building early stages businesses. It is our soul food. We are a Studio in our own right. Partnering with other great Studios feels like a win-win.
I am keen to see if other Studio collaborations will happen. Could specialist and generalist Studios partner to bring startups to market? For example, if a generalist Studio has a validated a idea in a particular vertical, say Healthcare, would there be benefit to a collaboration with a dedicated Healthcare Studio with the industry connections and ability to activate more effectively?
For me it simply boils down to how can we work together to build the best companies possible. How can we give these ideas and founding teams the best chance of success.