What is a “Venture Studio”?
As a Venture Studio, Platform creates and builds startups by partnering with world-class founders. Our role is as a co-founder. As a co-founder, our primary contribution is labor, not capital.
We bring our studio team, fund, methodology, and network to bear to significantly increase the chances of success, and decrease the time to get there. We aim to be the best co-founder you could ever hope to have.
For more information on the Venture Studio model, we recommend the The Rise of Startup Studios White Paper from Global Startup Studio Network (GSSN).
Are you a venture fund?
Yes and no. We have a venture fund but, unlike a traditional venture fund, the Platform fund is primarily used to build new startups rather than invest in existing startups.
We are able to work with existing startups but only if they are early in their journey, and have not yet raised any money in a priced round.
What is a Founder-in-Residence?
A Founder-in-Residence (or "FIR") is an entrepreneur we partner with to solve an unmet need.
Sometimes, we will begin a partnership with a FIR to develop an idea that is still in its infancy. Other times, we will partner with an FIR who already has a concrete idea of what they want to create.
What is a Founder Associate?
Our Founder Associates assist our FIRs with building their companies. A Founder Associate is a quintessential generalist and gets to witness firsthand how a founder creates a company from scratch. For someone who aspires to be a Founder themselves one day, we believe there is no better, hands-on experience than being a Founder Associate.
Are Platform Founders-in-Residence paid?
Yes; we do offer income to Founders-in-Residence. This is important because we believe that the inability to work without income is often a big part of what prevents some founders - particularly those from underrepresented groups - from starting the entrepreneurship journey. However, equity is of course always the primary reward for being a startup founder.
Can I pitch my idea to you?
Yes, absolutely! Please first sign up to Platform and post it as an Unmet Need, and then tell us about your proposed Solution.
What do you look for in a Founder?
There are many qualities that we evaluate but it is best summarized as Smarts, Goodness, Grit, and Fit.
How do I become a Founder-in-Residence?
Sign up to Platform and check the box to indicate that you are interested in being a Founder-in-Residence. You will receive an email explaining next steps.
I already have a startup; can it be part of Platform?
We often meet founders early in their journey who have passion for an unmet need aligned with our themes, and perhaps have a prototype or an early product live. They may have already raised some money from friends-and-family, using SAFE notes.
However, since our model is to build with you as your co-founder, if you’ve already raised money in a priced round (e.g. from a traditional venture fund), it’s too late for Platform.
Why should a Founder work with Platform vs raising money from a traditional venture fund?
We are the best co-founder you could have! Like a individual co-founder, we will build with you; blood, sweat, and tears. However, unlike an individual co-founder:
Data shows that, on average, you are more likely to raise an A-round and will get there more quickly working with a Venture Studio vs raising a traditional venture capital round (see this study).
What is an "Unmet Need"?
An Unmet Need is a big hairy problem that the Platform Guild has identified and which fits into one or more of our core themes. To be clear: an unmet need doesn’t have a good solution yet; that’s why it’s "unmet". We’re calling out a gap in the market that Platform might be in a good position to fill. Once we are clear on the unmet need, it's time to propose solutions, which may be existing solutions or ideas for new products and services.
How does a startup get built by Platform?
We start by sourcing unmet needs from the Guild. We meet weekly to discuss possible solutions to these unmet needs. Each unmet need/solution pair is scored on a number of attributes, including whether we think it is a good fit for our studio, whether it aligns with our overall mission and themes, and if it excites us (subjective but arguably one of the most important measurements).
From there, we have a four stage process to build a company. At each stage, we evaluate what the market response has been, and whether we think the company has proven what it needs to make it to the following stage.
The final stage of the Platform process is to help the founders raise their seed round of funding and graduate from Platform Venture Studio.
What is "PlatformOS"?
PlatformOS is our proprietary software for running Platform. We think of it as "Github for Building Startups". It lets a wide group of people work together to discuss themes and trends, source unmet needs, and collaboratively build startups together.
This article provides more background: Could the Future of Venture be Like Github?
Why are you showing everything on your website?
In short, we think "stealth mode" is BS. Any advantages to stealth mode are massively overriden by the benefits of getting early feedback and leveraging the wisdom of the crowd. For every startup that is successful after being in stealth mode, there are ten that come out of stealth mode only to discover that they've built something that no one wants.
How can I participate if I don’t want to found a company?
There are many other roles you can take:
What are "Option Points"?
We want everyone who helps build a startup to have "skin in the game". When a Platform Guild member provides help to a Platform startup - e.g. by picking up a Help Request - we award the Guild member with Option Points in that startup.
Why are they "points" rather than simply advisor stock options? At the point time when the help is given, the startup in question may not yet have been spun out as a separate legal entity. This is part of what keeps Platform's studio model simple and capital efficient; we only create separate legal entities when a startup reaches a certain stage of development. When a company is spun out, we will convert any outstanding Option Points to actual advisor stock options.
This article provides more context: The Truth About Advisors
How do I turn a conversation into a company?
So, you’re having a really interesting conversation with someone on the Platform feed, and you want to see that turn into something bigger. There are a few ways we suggest getting started:
First, reply and see if they’d like to have a meeting about the topic. As much as doing work asynchronously can be helpful, there is nothing quite like discussing an idea with someone live. Many Platform Guild members share their scheduling link on their Platform profiles.
Second, join one of our monthly Unmet Need review sessions. These are great opportunities for Platform Guild members to pitch their ideas and get feedback. If you’re interested in staying involved either as an advisor or maybe a Founder, let one of us know and we’ll make sure to keep you in the loop throughout.
Still have questions? Please ask on the Platform feed and someone will answer!