“What do you do for a living?”
“I kinda build startups”.
“Ah, so you’re a startupper!”
“Not exactly, I actually do something a bit different: I work in a Startup Studio”.
“A Startup Studio. It’s a specialized enterprise that builds several startups simultaneously and boosts them to get a better exit”.
“Uhm… so what is this, a startup incubator or something?”
Everyone working in a Startup Studio (or Startup venture, or factory, or whatever) had a conversation like this at least once in their life.
The point is, the Startup Studio model is pretty recent, let’s say around ten years old, while the startup incubator one is quite older; so it’s ok if people still struggle to understand its true nature.
In this article, I’ll try to get a few things straight about Startup Studios and Startup Incubators, starting from scratch.
What is a Startup Incubator?
Basically, a startup incubator is a safe ecosystem in which a fresh-made startup can find food and shelter.
Here, a startup making its first steps in the business savannah can benefit from training, management assistance and office space – often including WiFi, coffee and ugly-looking vintage sofas.
The startup incubator does not own the startups it helps grow, nor does it usually have any responsibility towards the startupper or investors concerning the positive (or not) outcome of the process.
Not every startup can get into an Incubator: there is a selection process that aims at finding the ones most likely to succeed in the market, and their stay within the incubator varies from project to project.
Finally, an incubator earns money usually by selling services or renting spaces to the startups.
What is a Startup Studio?
A Startup Studio is, instead, an enterprise whose product is other enterprises.
The Studio owns a big chunk of each company it creates and as such, it provides the rising startup everything it needs, including investors: part of the job is to seal good rounds of investment to keep the marvellous machine moving.
Therefore, the good (or bad) outcome of each startup relies entirely on the Studio itself – but usually, Startup Studio founders are sea-dogs that already know how to sail the startup seas.
(So basically, you can distinguish the CEO of a Startup Studio from that of an Incubator based on how many tranquilisers they take).
Their inner structure makes them agile, fast and allows the Studios to optimize the costs of management, splitting it amongst the various startups.
A Startup Studio makes a living based on its investments and, lastly, on the exit for each startup.
An ever-changing scenario
This short article has gone through the wider distinctions between Startup Incubators and Startup Studios, in order to offer a smattering of the topic.
Sometimes the differences are even more accentuated, sometimes instead some Incubators act more as Studios and vice versa.
The possibilities in the startup environment are, by nature, ever-changing.
So is the business.
You can also read: The Startup Studios Fever