Venture Mechanics, Led by Ron Wiener, Opens “Berkubator” for Tech Startups, Introduces Three New Companies
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start more companies. “These are going to be businesses that are worth owning,” Weiss says.
Wiener adds, “We’re earning micro-salaries from each of the companies once they’re funded. But we’re trying to avoid all the trappings of having a fund.”
Venture Mechanics unveiled its first three startups last night. None of them has announced any funding yet. The names might change, but one startup is called OverSignal. The idea is around lowering the cost of mobile phone bills for big companies, starting with the BlackBerry device. Another is ShipSweet, a software service that’s a bit like Priceline for doing shipping with a network of local couriers and regional carriers. And the third is called Unleashed Traveler, a pet care service for travelers (for kennels, vet clinics, and pet sitters) with a business model similar to OpenTable.
It’s too early to know how many companies will be in Venture Mechanics’ portfolio in the next year or so, Wiener says. He did say he’s also looking at companies around the country that are further along, but don’t have dedicated teams to drive them forward; the idea would be to reform the companies with new management teams in Seattle, while allowing the original owners to keep a stake.
For an ambitious project like this, of course, the proof will lie in how successful the Venture Mechanics companies become in generating financial returns, and whether they can produce profits quickly enough. Wiener says, “The key challenges will be uncovering ‘germinators’ and having a strong bench. There’s lots of execs that have just left, or we don’t know about yet. Most of our time is spent on filtering ideas and filtering people, so we can fit ideas and people together.”
“This isn’t for everybody,” Wiener admits. “This is not the universal solvent. We are not going to have a Google. We’re not playing the numbers game…It’s more about accreting low-risk [companies and investments] over time that are not tied to a single liquidity event. The idea is you’ll make more money.”