CAA Launches Tech Startup Studio With $12M in Funding

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The Vancouver-based Creative Labs counts Boat Rocker Ventures, eOne and Telegraph Media Group among its investors.

CAA has launched a new venture designed to help build technology and media companies from the ground up.

The agency on Friday announced Creative Labs, a Vancouver-based startup studio that it designed to dream up and develop new businesses that leverage CAA's resources and relationships.

Longtime entrepreneur Mike Edwards is leading Creative Labs as CEO with venture-capital and media entrepreneur Leonard Brody serving as chairman. The venture has raised $12.5 million from investors that include Boat Rocker Ventures, eOne, Real Ventures, Seedcamp and London's Telegraph Media Group. Individual investors involved in the round include Saul Klein, Jeff Mallett and Lane Merrifield.

Creative Labs' first two companies are millennial media startup Belletrist, launched with CAA client Emma Roberts and Karah Preiss, and Ground Control, an interactive audio platform.

"Throughout the past decade, we have conceptualized and launched several successful startups 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 CAA head of business development Michael Yanover. "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."

CAA has made a number of moves in the startup space over the years, including helping to develop Funny or Die and WhoSay. It also launched CAA Ventures to invest in startups such as Patreon, Giphy and Medium.

Belletrist launched this spring as a sort of internet-enabled book club for millennial women with a subscription book-recommendation service curated by the Scream Queens and American Horror Story actress.

Ground Control, which is developing content for voice-operating systems like Amazon's Alexa, was launched in June by entrepreneur Mike Macadaan. In September, it released a daily audio program, Biden's Briefing, hosted by former Vice President Joe Biden. Its most recent project is Full Count Baseball Trivia with Buster Posey.

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