Execution Labs ends startup accelerator program

Montreal incubator switching focus from smaller teams to make bigger bets on more established indie studios

Execution Labs has axed its startup accelerator program. As reported by VentureBeat, the Montreal-based company has halted investment in smaller game developers in order to make fewer, bigger bets on later-stage companies.

"In a nutshell, instead of lots of $50,000 checks, we'll be writing a smaller number of (up to) $500,000 checks," Execution Labs co-founder Keith Katz said. "And we'll be deploying our in-house team of experts remotely rather than having studios spend a fixed amount of time in Montreal. We are moving up the curve on when we come into the studios."

While Execution Labs' developers will be visiting studios more frequently, the company will continue to run its offices in Montreal and San Francisco.

"The initial concept came about four plus years ago, and one thing that we got right back then--and this is still applicable today--is that even highly talented studios need lots of hands-on support with not just the business side of the running a studio, but also the production side," Katz told "And this has to be on-going; it can't end after a few months of mentorship. So we're still providing those 'in the weeds' services.

"But what has changed is the market; the barriers to entry are much higher in 2016. Game quality is up, and marketing and distribution is harder. For XL this means adapting our model in a few ways. We still want to be the first professional investors in, but we want to be able to provide more capital to give studios more runway and more options. We also want to partner more with publishers and other investors; it takes a village to raise an independent studio in 2016. And we want to make sure that the studios we are investing in have some unique marketing, distribution, or cost advantage that we can help them unlock and leverage. Because today, simply making great games just isn't enough."

Founded in 2012, Execution Labs counts 19 studios among its portfolio of companies, including Switchblade Monkeys (Secret Ponchos), Outerminds (PewdiePie: Legend of the Bro Fist), and Kitfox Games (Moon Hunters). Katz said going forward the company would be looking to invest in operations closer to the Kitfox of today rather than the Kitfox that existed when Execution first got involved with the studio, prior to Shattered Planet's launch on mobile in 2013.

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