Since the inception of IdeaLabs in 1996, multiple venture studios have been incorporated to enable creators and entrepreneurs to materialise their business vision. Venture studios, startup studios or startup factories are auxiliary organisations empowering entrepreneurs with the ability to build a scalable and successful entity, and to do it faster and better. Recently, MVPF Venture Studio in partnership with DB Schenker launched the Schenker Venture Studio. To understand how venture studios work, and to offer an introduction to how MVPF's partnership with DB Schenker can change the game for LogTech, we spoke to Niklas Lechner—aka Nik—serial entrepreneur and managing partner at MVPF Venture Studio.
Nik moved to Berlin after finishing his Master’s in Management from St Gallen. Working at Rocket Internet as a Global Venture Developer, he was involved in the foundation of multiple startups, from taking on the first tasks to setting up entire infrastructures around them. Nik explains, “I was especially involved in Lendico, a P2P lending marketplace that was later sold to ING Bank. Serving there as the COO before I left Rocket.”. Since then he has founded his FinTech startup, mentored other founders, held the role of Co-Founder at Oceanis and MVP Match, and is actively involved in helping businesses take off. “I find building companies, especially in the early stages, very exciting. Within a small team of talented people you start hiring the first employees, finding the product-market fit, and building the first version of the product in a very dynamic environment and a short period of time.”
When we sat down with Nik for a virtual coffee, we asked him about his responsibilities as a Partner at Schenker Ventures. He explains, “As we are very young now, I'm involved in almost everything happening within the studio. At the moment that means ideating new ideas along with Schenker, and selecting suitable business models that we want to further validate with potential Co-Founders. This includes searching for exceptional talents with whom we would like to turn these ideas into real companies.”
The advantages of Venture Studios
Venture studios take the risk out of company building and maximise the success probability of startups by bringing their own industry knowledge and company building experience into the equation. As Nik explains, “One partner from the venture studio will join each incubating business, serving as the third co-founder and bringing company building experience from our backgrounds—as well as ensuring that the new founders don’t make common but avoidable mistakes.”.
On average, venture studio birthed startups can reach the seed round in 10.7 months and go from seed to series A in 14.5 months, compared to an independent startup which takes 26 months to raise the seed round. We asked Nik what else future Schenker Studio founders can expect: “We will support the founders through the whole journey, from staffing to product building. At MVP Factory, we have the best designers, developers, product managers, and marketing experts to help the founding team build the best product possible. Our recruiting experts lend their support in hiring, especially for a non-technical founding team that wants to build their prototype fast. And when it comes to funding, we will open our huge network of angel and VC investors willing to participate in the next funding rounds—after the initial EUR 300k pre-seed that Schenker is providing, of course.”.
To summarise, MVPF Venture Studio gives founders a head start on company building by instantly providing a solid infrastructure to build upon. Venture studios, in general, often sit at the intersection of incubators, accelerators, and venture capital firms, providing multidimensional support for founders.
- Like incubators, they will actively brainstorm ideas with entrepreneurs from the very start, helping them conceptualise business models.
- Like venture capital firms, once the idea is validated they will invest in the business and play an advisory role.
- Finally, like accelerators, they will build the business alongside the entrepreneurs, ensuring that, while the entrepreneurs are busy building the core product, the venture studio can take care of the other multiple minuscule operational tasks in the back-end.
Nik says, “We don’t want to quit after founders receive their Pre-Seed funding; we want to be their partners going forward. We are highly interested in helping founders to scale the business model, because we ultimately participate in the up-side as well. I think that makes a big difference here.”
An Opportunity for LogTech Entrepreneurs
And as for the DB Schenker partnership, Nik explains more about the benefits, “For certain business models, Schenker will help you build the right partnerships and will open their network and assets for whatever you need. For example, if you need a warehouse to operate because the business model revolves around warehousing, then Schenker will provide access to its network of 9000 warehouses. They will also bring in experts from their team, not only during the incorporation of the company, but also even at later stages.”
The venture studio approach has proved itself time and again as venture studio backed startups have shown 3X increased chances of becoming a unicorn, and the antifragile nature of venture studios has birthed big names like Twitter, Medium, and Zalando.
Shedding some light on the upcoming innovative projects from venture studios, Nik more about the benefits, “From a high level perspective, I can tell that the business models we are pursuing are targeting a huge market and have a strong software and tech component. That’s really important to us because that’s where we think we can add the most value. It can disrupt, for example, how retailers will carry out their fulfillment and manage their warehousing in the future, or how truck companies can fulfill more orders or realise effective last-mile delivery, especially with the same-day delivery services that we currently see everywhere.”
While Nik is really excited about business models and opportunities that are leveraging technologies like blockchain IoT, Machine Learning, and artificial intelligence, he directed us to the investment thesis of Schenker Venture to gain a better understanding. For entrepreneurs in the LogTech industry, this could be a great opportunity.