Similar to Y Combinator, early-stage technology startup accelerator Techstars has spent much of the last decade supporting and seeding innovative projects, including Plated, ClassPass, SendGrid and PillPack. Now, it wants to take its service a step further.
Today, Techstars is announcing the launch of Techstars Studio, a new venture that will have the accelerator developing and launching venture-scale businesses with the support of several corporate partners. Leveraging its large network of entrepreneurs, Techstars has invited large companies to co-create startups targeting specific challenges within their industry. Techstars says it has signed on 25 corporate partners so far, each of which will pay an annual membership fee to access an early look at the Techstars Studio projects, as well as updates from the team, as concepts transition into prototypes then to full-fledged companies.
Techstars Studio plans to complete four full spin-outs per year and will identify talent from within its network to lead each venture. The companies will be seeded with a varying amount of capital depending on the business’s needs.
The news is the latest in a series of developments from within Techstars that illustrate the accelerator’s bid to marry corporations and the startup ecosystem. On top of the startup studio, Techstars announced in September a Network Engagement Program, which offers concierge-style connections for corporations looking to build relationships with startups and a 54-hour Innovation Bootcamp, which teaches corporate employees “to rapidly identify and validate solutions for critical business problems.”
“We think of ourselves as the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed — this will help entrepreneurs in our world be successful,” Techstars co-founder and co-chief executive officer David Cohen told TechCrunch. “We have the history and the talent to do it but this is new for us, so we have to build that muscle.”
Cohen will lead the studio along with portfolio co-founder Isaac Saldana, who will serve as chief technology officer. Saldana co-founded Techstars-backed SendGrid, an email platform acquired by Twilio for $2 billion in October. Mike Rowan, SendGrid’s former vice president, and Sabrina Kelly, Techstars VP of talent, have also joined the new effort.
A slew of Techstars-backed founders have also signed on to advise the projects, including the founders of Remitly, Sphero and DataRobot.
Founded in 2006, Techstars now operates 44 programs in 14 countries with more than 1,600 companies in its portfolio.