The Multiplier Effect: High Alpha Venture Studio
High Alpha, a venture studio that launches, invests and scales B2B software companies, functions as a driving force of innovation in the Indianapolis tech scene. Launched and managed by seasoned entrepreneurs, High Alpha is a powerful example of what Endeavor refers to as “The Multiplier Effect”, in which entrepreneurs become role models who inspire future generations to innovate, take risks, and “think big”.
Partners of High Alpha include: Scott Dorsey, former Chairman, CEO and Co-Founder of ExactTarget (sold to Salesforce.com); Mike Fitzgerald, former EVP Corporate Development at ExactTarget and Co-Founder of Gravity Ventures; Eric Tobias, Founder and CEO of iGoDigital (sold to ExactTarget); and Kristian Andersen, Founder of Studio Science and Co-Founder of Gravity Ventures.
These four managing partners are indeed fostering the entrepreneurial community and multiplying their impact, as they have now launched 11 companies through High Alpha Studio, and have invested in 28 companies through High Alpha Capital since its founding in 2015. Studio companies include Doxly, Lessonly, Zylo, and Clear Scholar.
The team secured $100M+ in 2018 for its two latest funds. Investors in High Alpha Capital II include Emergence Capital, co-founded by Jason Green, who is also a founding board member of Endeavor, and Foundry Group co-founded by Brad Feld.
Endeavor at Sprint Week
When I first learned about High Alpha and their venture studio model, I had a plethora of questions. Where did they source all of these fantastic ideas? How is it possible to launch 11 B2B SaaS companies in such a short amount of time? All questions were answered with two words: Sprint Week.
Multiple times throughout the year, the entire High Alpha team clears their day-to-day schedules to allow for four uninterrupted days of innovation and strategic planning. They prepare for a week of long hours and late nights, knowing that the outcome of the week could potentially be the next High Alpha Studio company.
Hundreds of concepts for Sprint Week stem from various sources, and the High Alpha partners ultimately pick the 4-5 most promising ones to bring through the exercise. Each partner leads a team of 8-10 people with diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise. The majority of participants are High Alpha employees, but they also invite one or two guests as subject-matter experts. Given Endeavor’s extensive work in researching, analyzing and supporting scaleups, I was brought in as a business analyst.
Starting at 8am Monday morning, each team begins working diligently to create a Minimally Viable Business (MVB) including branding, prototyping, and go-to-market strategy by Thursday morning. Each team pitches their MVB to the other teams at the end of Sprint Week, and the partners reconvene to deliberate and vote on the winning team.
As a first time sprinter, there were many lessons learned. I share many of the same sentiments as Amna Sohail, High Alpha Business Design and Corporate Innovation team member. As a guest, one of the greatest parts about Sprint Week was to see the effect of quick decision-making. Given the length of the sprint, the team has to reach a decision and keep moving, or will otherwise fall behind. We had to make assumptions, agree upon the viability of those assumptions, and continue to the next phase of creation. So often in business, decision-making can be challenging especially when working in cross-functional teams. But at Sprint Week, everyone was truly committed to a continuous sprint to build the best MVB.
What happens with the winning MVB? It becomes the next High Alpha Studio company, and the team spends the following months bringing the MVB to life. This includes everything from dev and design work to hiring a founding team to further build out the business. By combining Sprint Week with the support of a creation team, mentorship from experienced founders, and startup funding, High Alpha is able to continuously launch new companies, and therefore create jobs, create wealth, and inspire others.
As Endeavor looks to support high-impact entrepreneurs throughout the region, the High Alpha team has been extremely helpful in getting us plugged into the Indianapolis entrepreneurial network. The Endeavor and High Alpha ethos are very aligned, and we hope to see High Alpha Studio companies become a part of the Endeavor network in the near future!