Today 500 Startups, a Silicon Valley VC specializing in middle-out technology, is announcing 500 LABS, a startup studio that creates awesome companies from scratch (see infographic). 500 Labs will bring together founders and teams from all over the world to make startups go harder, faster, better, stronger.
500 LABS is led by experienced entrepreneurs and hyperloop enthusiasts Selcuk Atli and Dominic Coryell. Selcuk and Dom reside in San Francisco, but occasionally migrate north for the summer to Toronto and Waterloo (that’s in Canada, you hoser). They make stuff that works.
Startup Studio: A Model that Works
Startup studios aren’t exactly new — they have been popularized in recent years by firms like Betaworks (creators of Giphy), and Expa (creators of Operator). The model was pioneered in 1996 by Idealab, which has had over 40 IPO’s and acquisitions. Many startups like Uber (Expa), Twitter (Obvious Corp) and Tinder (Hatch Labs) were created using similar studio models. 500 LABS believes if you bring together amazing engineers, designers and marketers and let them run a few experiments, amazing things can happen.
Why 500 Startups?
500 LABS will lean on several unique strengths of 500 Startups to execute this model:
- Growth Marketing: 500 Startups specializes in training and educating companies on how to grow and acquire customers via search, social, and mobile strategies. 500 LABS will leverage its extensive growth expertise to help new companies grow faster.
- 500 Founders: Since 2010, 500 Startups has invested in over 3,000 founders and entrepreneurs around the world, in over 60 countries. 500 LABS can recruit experienced operators from the 500 community and network to help build new companies.
- Global Talent: Some of the best engineers, designers, and marketers don’t live in Silicon Valley. 500 Startups’ global reach will help 500 LABS find and recruit them.
Beyond Silicon Valley
500 LABS is headquartered in Silicon Valley but it will partner with teams all around the world to build products. Initially, 500 LABS is setting up engineering operations in Toronto and Waterloo, a region with top technical talent. The region is home to University of Waterloo, a university that produces top engineers every year. While government support and the lower cost of living make it an attractive place to build companies. In the future, 500 LABS expects to expand into many other regions around the world.
How 500 LABS is Building Companies
500 LABS will be founding companies based on its own ideas and others from engineers, designers and marketers it partners with. It will pick and experiment with a few projects at a time. Once a project starts experiencing exponential growth, 500 LABS will spin out the company with the team who built it and continue to support the company as hands-on co-founders. 500 LABS will invest in these companies, alongside other investors in its network.
500 LABS will initially focus on building mobile products for consumers and businesses. In the future, 500 LABS expects to launch new tracks in areas like marketplaces and SaaS.
About Selcuk & Dominic
Selcuk is a Venture Partner at 500 Startups. He’s previously founded Manifest (acquired by Rakuten) and Boostable. He’s a graduate of Y Combinator (W’14), Endeavor Entrepreneur and Fulbright Scholar. Selcuk is also a co-founder and board member of Nomadic Mentors, a non-profit that connects elite startup mentors with founders in developing markets.
Dominic is a Distro Partner at 500 Startups. He previously Co-Founded Talkable (500 and YC backed) where he built referral programs for some of the world’s top e-commerce brands like Bonobos, TOMS and Shutterfly. While in college at Northeastern, he won the Global Student Entrepreneur Award from Kauffman Foundation for his first startup Garment Valet.
500 LABS is hiring Hackers-in-Residence, engineers and designers who will work on various product experiments, and eventually become part of the founding teams of its new companies.
You can learn more about the roles and apply at 500labs.com/join.
Artwork by Yiying Lu