Thoughts on the studio/agency model

Been looking at a few ideas in the studio/agency model space, especially since I’ve had a business idea thrown at me a few days ago.

There’s a Betaworks, which I’ve long admired for it’s build, buy, and invest philosophies. But based on this article and other information, it seems the capital for Betaworks largely comes from the investment vehicle, not the building company. So ostensibly, Betaworks = venture fund.

There’s the traditional model, which is an agency method where developers/designers build things for clients. But there is a severe bias for client work to take precedence over building good stuff (ie. client work pays the bills), so at the end of the day client work may eventually take over the “build” agency.

And then there’s a new model which I’m hearing, which is essentially a services for equity model, most notably by Techstars Associates + Hackstars company Avalanche. It’s a compressed op cycle (2 weeks!), but I like it since I’m a fan of the Techstars compressed time schedule. The challenges of this model is deal flow - how to get a good source of leads, and the core team that are essentially working.

What’s driving me is re-iterating quickly on the Build -> Succeed/Fail -> Learn loops and in life cycles that are short and time-bound. But from a business side there are only two models that seem to work - client work or venture investment.

By no means my final thoughts on agency models, but here’s to a start.