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Startup studios vs accelerators

Comparison of 21 companies from top accelerators and 21 companies of top startup studios. Who has the biggest…?

· startup studio,Analysis,Funding

Short story: It appears that startups grown in startup studios often produce better growth / capital metrics than those startups that were created and accelerated the traditional way. But this needs way more research. This is only the first step.

Seeing the amazing trend of startup studios I wanted to know how the startups created in these studios perform compared to companies of top accelerators? I gathered this data about a year ago, so I will need to update it and widen the scale. But let's see the initial results.

Numbers game

To find out, I selected 21 pre-exit companies from 7 accelerators , and 21 companies created by studios. I did my best to select the best and biggest from each pool. Then I looked at data in CrunchBase, MatterMark, Linkedin and did some excel magic.

Here’s the list of accelerator companies:

  • 500 Startups: Life360, Smule, Zozi;
  • Angelpad: Crittercism, Postmates, Vungle;
  • Seedcamp: Mailcloud, Property Partner, TransferWise;
  • Startupbootcamp: Mint Solutions, The Eye, Tribe TrialBee;
  • Techstars: DigitalOcean, Sphero, PillPack;
  • Wayra: Ensygnia, Trustev, Wayin;
  • Y Combinator: AirBnB, Dropbox, Stripe.

And the list of startup studio companies:

  • 212 Media: Saavn, Speakaboos, Sportsvite;
  • Archimedes Labs: Inc, Kwicr, Quixey;
  • Betaworks: Chartbeat, Giphy, Socialflow;
  • HVF: Affirm, Glow;
  • Idealab: New Matter, Ubermedia, PerfectMarket;
  • Lightbank: Belly;
  • Rocket Internet: Dafiti, Lazada, Hellofresh;
  • Science: August, Dollar Shave Club, Dogvacay.

(You can get the source data form here. )


When it comes to measuring startups, one of the most important (at least talked about) metric is total funding. So let’s see, how these companies do.

Funding of individual companies from accelerators vs studios:

Total funding of companies from accelerators vs studios

Total funding of startups from accelerators vs studios:

Average funding round:

There’s little surprise here. YC and Rocket companies occupy 6 places in the top 10.

Also as you can see, companies from top accelerators raised 105% more than studio companies.


It’s also worth to note how many people these companies employ.

Number of employees of individual startups, based on LinkedIn:

Total number of employees:

In this category, the differences are more subtle. Companies from accelerators employ 17% more people than studio companies.


When it comes to growth, comparing different companies is a big challenge. To tackle this, I looked at the MatterMark growth score. It tracks multiple signals (web traffic, inbound links, social network interactions…) on a weekly basis. The higher the better.

Growth index of individual startups:

This chart is intriguing. Especially if you cross check the results with the funding data.

It seems, that companies created by startup studios can achieve higher growth score from the same amount of money, compared to companies from accelerators.

So based on this preliminary and small scale research, startups created and grown by startup studios are able to produce more growth from the same amount of funding.


Please keep in mind, that the above comparison has some limitations:

  • The selection of accelerators, studios and companies was arbitrary (although I tried my best to select them without partiality);
  • This comparison can be only as valid as validity the publicly available data;

Next steps

In 2017 I’ll continue my research into the startup studio efficiency topic, discovering new and more precise data sources and if possible, a more objective and relevant way of measuring and comparing startup growth.

Until then, feel free to explore the Startup Studio Playbook and learn about:

  • Who are the studio founders;
  • How are are studios funded;
  • Where do they take ideas;
  • How they are organized;
  • What are their exit strategies;
  • What are the pros and cons;
  • How different startup studios operate across the Globe;
  • How corporations can leverage the benefits of the model?

If you want to dive deep into the world of startup studios, go to to buy the book.

(The original version of this post was published on Medium.)

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