Ep 38: Exploring the Venture Studio, Startup Accelerator Model- with Carey Ransom of Operate Studio

Ep 38: Exploring the Venture Studio, Startup Accelerator Model- with Carey Ransom of Operate Studio

Silicon Valley Bank reports that there are over 200 startup accelerators in the United States. They each have a different model and value proposition.

In this conversation, I sit down with Operate Studio’s founder and president Carey Ransom, to understand their approach to the venture studio model, to get startups thru the J-curve (an initial loss followed by a steep rise.). 

We discuss 

  • How Operate Studio came to be a “company building company.”
  • The startup founder’s mindset and how with a thousand choices then can stay focused.
  • The venture capital markets public relations machine and its effect on startup founders.
  • Pitch decks and how they pretend to have all the answers.
  • The venture studio model across the country.
  • Operate Studios investment thesis – “We optimize for lovable founders” – just about anything, consumer, entertainment, B2B, fintech, anything-tech but not healthtech

About the Guest:

Carey Ransom is a technology entrepreneur, executive, investor, and advisor, and has started, grown, and/or led 8 B2B and consumer technology companies during startup and growth phases. He is the Founder & President of Operate, a SoCal-focused venture studio, and fund, where he and his team invest themselves and capital into founders of exciting data-centric SaaS startups. In the last 18 months, Operate has partnered with 12 of these early companies. Carey is also the host of a podcast featuring innovators, entrepreneurs, and leaders. 

Since 2003 and before Operate, Carey also invested in 12 of his own or angel-funded others’ ventures, with a current IRR of 25%+ (unrealized).  Most of these ventures are SaaS, fintech, or data analytics companies. 

Prior to Operate he was COO at Aspiration, the leading “consumer financial firm with a conscience,” where he led the firm’s growth from 20 to 200 people and the build-out of infrastructure and approval as a FINRA-regulated broker-dealer.  He was also CEO of RealPractice, a venture-backed SaaS company, which he sold to ReachLocal (RLOC); Chief Product & Innovation Officer of Experian Consumer Services; and CMO and Chief Exploration Officer (CXO) of Happy Money, a venture-backed consumer fintech company. 

Carey’s 25-year career spans executive roles in product, marketing, business development, strategy, and corporate development. He was VP Business Development at Brand Affinity Technologies (BAT), an Internet advertising and celebrity endorsement business; VP Marketing and Corporate Development at WebVisible, where he forged new partnerships with AT&T, American Express, and Microsoft, created new lines of business and led them to nearly 10X revenue growth during his tenure; VP Sales and Marketing at MessageRite (acquired by Frontbridge Technologies, and then Microsoft), a fast-growing, multi-channel messaging security SaaS startup.  
Carey is active in the Southern California startup and investment community – a long-time board member of OCTANe, advisor to the CEO Leadership Alliance of Orange County (CLA-OC), and guest lecturer at numerous schools including UCLA, USC, UC Irvine, Chapman, Cal State Fullerton, Biola and Vanguard. He has recruited and hired nearly 1000 people in the last 20 years, and passionately believes in purpose, culture, talent and timing as key ingredients to successful companies. He has frequently spoken at financial technology, software and online media conferences such as SaaStock, Recurring Revenue, AltFI, Innovation Project, Frost & Sullivan and IMA. 

Carey is an MBA graduate of the UCLA Anderson School of Management. In addition, he holds a B.A. in Economics from Indiana University. His real education, though, was growing up in a multi-generational retail family business. 

Connect with Carey at:



About the Host:

Philip Topham is The Savvy Founder. Philip has an inquisitive mind and a passion for ideas. He’s impatient to see tomorrow’s future today. He helps technical founders build the business they want. He helps established businesses tap into their start-up founder to conquer a changing world.  With more than 25 years across start-ups and corporate roles, Philip has been everything from janitor to the Founder and Chief Everything Officer.

Words of Wisdom

  • Ideas are worthless; revenues are priceless; surround yourself with smart people.
  • Life is a journey – mole hills or mountains? it’s your choice.

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