Backed with $12.5 Million in Funding, Innovative New Venture Has Already Launched Two New Companies – Ground Control and Emma Roberts’ Belletrist
LOS ANGELES (October 27, 2017) – Leading entertainment and sports agency Creative Artists Agency (CAA) unveils Creative Labs, a start-up studio focused on developing consumer-facing technology companies and next generation media and entertainment experiences. Based in Vancouver, Canada, Creative Labs’ CEO Mike Edwards leads a team of engineers, designers, and developers, who have unique access to CAA’s expertise, resources, and relationships, to ideate new businesses in such areas as OTT, VR/AR, gaming, and AI/messaging, in addition to digital consumer brands in ecommerce, mobile, social, and publishing. Serial entrepreneur, two-time Emmy Award-nominee and venture capitalist Leonard Brody serves as Chairman and Co-Founder of the new venture.
The company has raised $12.5 million in financing from key institutional investors including Boatrocker Ventures, Entertainment One (eOne), Real Ventures, Seedcamp Ventures, and The Telegraph Media Group in London, in addition to individuals such as Saul Klein, Jeff Mallett, and Lane Merrifield.
“Throughout the past decade, we have conceptualized and launched several successful start-ups 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 Michael Yanover, Head of Business Development, CAA. “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 a proven incubation track record, having conceptualized and co-founded six venture-backed companies, including FunnyorDie and WhoSay, for which the agency has collectively raised more than $100 million in third-party funding. With expertise in principal investing, CAA manages CAA Ventures, a venture fund that invests third-party capital in consumer technology businesses with high-growth opportunities. To date, the fund has invested in more than three dozen companies, including August, Bark + Co., Drone Racing League, Giphy, Medium, and Patreon.
“One of the biggest challenges facing entrepreneurs is getting their product or company in front of the right audience. 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,” said Edwards, an investor, entrepreneur, and start-up mentor with more than two decades of experience, having invested in and/or been actively involved in more than 40 technology startups.
Creative Labs has already launched two companies - Belletrist and Ground Control. Creative Labs worked closely with CAA client Emma Roberts and Karah Preiss to conceptualize and develop Belletrist, a new product-driven media company focused on the link between millennial women, the arts and culture, which launched its first phase in April, and includes photo and video sharing, live community discussions, and a subscription book recommendation service curated by Roberts.
In June, Creative Labs launched Ground Control, an interactive audio platform rooted in the growth of voice operating systems, such as smart speakers. The company has distribution on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant and is led by highly regarded tech entrepreneur Michael Macadaan. Ground Control is developing foundational original content with well-known personalities across entertainment, sports, politics and beyond. In September, Ground Control launched “Biden’s Briefing,” a daily audio program in which Vice President Joe Biden shares what he is reading on issues that are sparking conversation across the country. Most recently, the company unveiled “Full Count Baseball Trivia” with baseball All-Star Buster Posey. The first in a series of voice-activated games, “Full Count Baseball Trivia” has a daily offering of baseball trivia questions of varying difficulty, enabling players to earn points to graduate through seven levels – from Rookie to Minor League, Major League to Hall of Fame. With an initial focus on current affairs and interactive games, Ground Control aims to grow into health & wellness, hospitality and other promising categories.
“This is a transformative time for the media and entertainment business as more and more talent are able to speak directly to their audience and develop meaningful brands around that,” said Brody “It is an honor to be working with an industry leader and legend like CAA to develop this new generation of products, companies, and entrepreneurs”
Yanover, Edwards, Brody, seasoned media and gaming executive Pauline Moller, and CAA’s Head of Mobile Michael Blank serve as Board Members of Creative Labs.