In the wake of fresh reports of mixed economic signals, some Silicon Valley heavyweights are now placing large bets on a “small” plan. Last week, Expa – the “start-up studio” that was launched in 2013 by Uber co-founder Garrett Camp – announced the close of a $100 million fund to support a different sort of incubator. Dubbed “Expa Labs,” this new project will offer a high-touch, hands-on approach to growth and development.
Based from its offices in both New York and San Francisco, Expa Labs will offer six-month engagements to only a handful of start-ups at any given time. But the attention and the resources Expa Labs will provide should prove significant. In addition to dedicated guidance and mentorship from Expa’s five partners, each start-up will receive $500,000 in funding, as well as shared office space.
The decision to “go small” draws a sharp contrast with Y Combinator, Silicon Valley’s most visible start-up incubator, as well as other, more conventional start-up funds. Expa Labs will debut amid ongoing controversy over seemingly excessive private valuations of early-stage companies, as well as a sharp pullback in recent venture transactions, despite otherwise-robust fundraising figures.
Several start-ups backed by Expa’s parent entity have met with early promise. Operator, an application that markets itself as a “shopping concierge,” received positive attention last year from the popular technology outlet TechCrunch. And another Expa-backed “concierge” application – this one a restaurant-reservation engine called Reserve – has likewise demonstrated modest growth in an otherwise-competitive space.