The Rise of Startup Studios

Startup Studios are gaining traction as an effective, efficient way to build new companies. As some of the early pioneers of the model mature, delivering innovation with outsized returns, founders and investors alike are taking notice. In this Assure virtual panel, we will hear from leaders of 3 of the industry’s leading studios, as they discuss the rise of startup studios in the early-stage venture ecosystem. 

Topics include:

  • Startup Studios as an Asset Class - Returns, Time to Series A, Thesis vs. the Field

  • Picking Winners

  • Studios vs. Accelerators

  • Founders, Funds, Agencies, and O

  • Capital Structuring Strategies

  • Operating Best Practices

The one-hour panel, moderated by Landon Ainge, the Managing Director of Assure Syndicates, will be held on Tuesday, March 16th at 12 pm MST.



Landon Ainge
Landon Ainge is the Managing Director of Assure Syndicates, which helps individuals and family offices invest alongside institutional VC's at the Seed and Series A. Landon focuses on helping founders and venture capital firms for free to help build up the technology investment ecosystems. Landon has gone through the founder-journey backwards. In reverse order he co-founded Gabb Wireless, where he had his first exit. Did deep dive diligence and portfolio management for the most active venture capital firm in the mountain region (Kickstart Seed Fund). At Overstock he ran the mobile commerce division, where his team won the Best Retail App in 2017 and quadrupled revenue. In a corporate development role, Landon helped to acquire 13 businesses deploying more than $450M as part of a private corporation, and initially worked for Goldman Sachs.



The Rise of Startup Studios


Mike Fridgen, Managing Director of Madrona Venture Labs
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As Managing Director of Madrona Venture Labs (MVL), Mike leads the studio's mission to partner with founders from day one to create extraordinary companies. Mike co-founded multiple MVL funds and has helped create over a dozen companies since 2015, including Chatitive which had a successful exit to Mailchimp in 2020. Before MVL, Mike was the founding CEO of Decide, which was acquired by eBay in 2013. At eBay, Mike was the General Manager of the Seattle-area office and the global product leader for professional selling experiences. Since the late 90s and prior to MVL, he has been a founding member of three venture-backed consumer technology companies, including Farecast which sold to Microsoft for over $100M in 2008. Mike is an active advisor and board member. He has served on the University of Washington's Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship board since 2014. He is a graduate of the University of Washington and Harvard Business School.


Eric Smith, High Alpha
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Eric is the current Head of Business Design at High Alpha charged with oversight of new business identification, co-founder recruiting, and the proprietary Sprint Week process. High Alpha is a leading venture studio that launches, scales and invests in enterprise cloud companies. Previously, Eric was the COO at e-commerce firm One Click Ventures (exited in 2018), Principal of Avant-garde Consulting, LLC specializing in alternative energy sector system analysis and solutions, New Energy Associate Fellow at Sagamore Institute, and an Associate in Citigroup’s Investment Bank concentrating in renewable energy, aviation, shipping, and rail asset classes.



Les Wilkinson, COO of Hashed Health
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Les Wilkinson is the Chief Operating Officer of Hashed Health, a leading venture studio focused on collaborative innovation in healthcare. Mr. Wilkinson manages all strategic partnerships, operations, finance, and legal matters for Hashed Health. Prior to joining Hashed Health, Mr. Wilkinson was a Managing Director at Martin Ventures, a leading healthcare technology focused venture firm. As part of the founding team, he helped design and implement the firm’s investment structure and a shared service offering consisting of accounting, payroll, benefits, information technology, corporate services and real estate for the benefit of portfolio companies. He served as director and/or investment lead on several successful digital health and technology enabled services startups.