Leading entertainment and sports agency Creative Artists Agency (CAA) unveils Creative Labs, a startup studio focused on developing consumer-facing technology companies and next-generation media and entertainment experiences. Based in Vancouver, Canada, Creative Labs’ CEO Mike Edwards leads a team of engineers, designers, and developers, who have unique access to CAA’s expertise, resources, and relationships, to ideate new businesses in such areas as OTT, VR/AR, gaming, and AI/messaging, in addition to digital consumer brands in ecommerce, mobile, social, and publishing. Serial entrepreneur, two-time Emmy Award-nominee and venture capitalist Leonard Brody serves as Chairman and cofounder of the new venture.
The company has raised $12.5 million in financing from key institutional investors including Boatrocker Ventures, Entertainment One (eOne), Real Ventures, Seedcamp Ventures, and The Telegraph Media Group in London, in addition to individuals such as Saul Klein, Jeff Mallett, and Lane Merrifield.
“Throughout the past decade, we have conceptualized and launched several successful start-ups on behalf of the agency and our clients, and now, through the formation of Creative Labs, we are able to further our efforts in a scalable, systematic manner,” said Michael Yanover, head of business development, CAA. “Our clients are innovative and entrepreneurial, and Creative Labs will play an integral role in helping develop their new business ideas from concept to launch, and beyond.”
CAA has a proven incubation track record, having conceptualized and cofounded six venture-backed companies, including FunnyorDie and WhoSay, for which the agency has collectively raised more than $100 million in third-party funding. With expertise in principal investing, CAA manages CAA Ventures, a venture fund that invests third-party capital in consumer technology businesses with high-growth opportunities. To date, the fund has invested in more than three dozen companies, including August, Bark + Co., Drone Racing League, Giphy, Medium, and Patreon.
“One of the biggest challenges facing entrepreneurs is getting their product or company in front of the right audience. Having a good idea is not enough. CAA's expertise combined with its access to the world's best talent enables us to create, test and develop innovative products and experiences for built-in, highly engaged audiences. It's a massive opportunity and I'm incredibly excited to be a part of it,” said Edwards, an investor, entrepreneur, and startup mentor with more than two decades of experience, having invested in and/or been actively involved in more than 40 technology startups.
Creative Labs has already launched two companies - Belletrist and Ground Control. Creative Labs worked closely with CAA client Emma Roberts and Karah Preiss to conceptualize and develop Belletrist, a new product-driven media company focused on the link between millennial women, the arts and culture, which launched its first phase in April, and includes photo and video sharing, live community discussions, and a subscription book recommendation service curated by Roberts.