CAA Launches Start-Up Studio With $12.5 Million In Funding

Creative Artists Agency has announced Creative Labs, a start-up studio focused on developing consumer-facing technology companies and next generation media and entertainment experiences

The studio will be based in Vancouver, Canada, with Creative Labs’ CEO Mike Edwards overseeing a team of engineers, designers, and developers, “who have unique access to CAA’s expertise, resources, and relationships.”

CAA says the goal is “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.”

Entrepreneur and venture capitalist Leonard Brody serves as Chairman and Co-Founder.

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.”

In announcing Creative Labs, CAA pointed to its “proven incubation track record” on such venture-based companies as FunnyorDie and WhoSay for which the agency has collectively raised more than $100 million in third-party funding.

“One of the biggest challenges facing entrepreneurs is getting their product or company in front of the right audience,” said CEO Edwards. “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.”

Creative Labs has previously launched two companies, including Belletrist with CAA client Emma Roberts and Karah Preiss. Belletrist, launched in April, is a media company focused on the link between millennial women, the arts and culture, and includes photo and video sharing, live community discussions, and a subscription book recommendation service curated by Roberts.

In June, Creative Labs launched Ground Control, an interactive audio platform rooted in the growth of voice operating systems, such as smart speakers. The company has distribution on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant. In September, Ground Control launched “Biden’s Briefing,” a daily audio program in which Vice President Joe Biden shares what he is reading on issues sparking conversation across the country.

“This is a transformative time for the media and entertainment business as more and more talent are able to speak directly to their audience and develop meaningful brands around that,” said Brody. “It is an honor to be working with an industry leader and legend like CAA to develop this new generation of products, companies, and entrepreneurs”

Yanover, Edwards, Brody, media and gaming executive Pauline Moller, and CAA’s Head of Mobile Michael Blank serve as Board Members of Creative Labs.

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