Roger Dickey ditches $32M-funded Gigster to start Untitled Labs – TechCrunch


Most founders don’t stroll away from their startup after elevating $32 million and reaching 1000 shoppers. However Roger Dickey’s coronary heart is in shopper tech, and his firm Gigster had pivoted to doing outsourced app improvement for enterprises as an alternative of scrappy entrepreneurs.

So right now Dickey introduced that he’d left his position as Gigster CEO, with former VMware VP Christopher Keane who’d bought it his startup WaveMaker coming in to guide Gigster in October. Now, Dickey is launching Untitled Labs, a “search lab” designed to check a number of shopper tech concepts in “social networking, mobility, private finance, premium companies, well being & wellness, journey, pictures, and courting” earlier than constructing out one

Untitled Labs is beginning off with $2.eight million in seed funding from early Gigster traders and different angels together with Founders Fund, Felicis Ventures, Caffeinated Capital, Joe Montana’s Liquid Ventures, Ashton Kutcher, Nikita Bier of TBH (acquired by Fb), and Zynga co-founder Justin Waldron.

Buyers lined up after seeing the success of Dickey’s final two search labs. In 2007, his Curiosoft lab revamped traditional DOS sport Drugwars as a Fb sport known as Dopewars and bought it to Zynga the place it grew to become the wildly common Mafia Wars. He did it once more in 2014, constructing Gigster out of Liquid Labs and finally elevating $32 million for it in rounds led by Andreessen Horowitz and Redpoint. Dickey had confirmed he wasn’t simply dicking round and his search labs may experiment their option to an A-grade startup.

“I beloved studying about B2B however over time I spotted my true passions have been in shopper and I kinda acquired the itch to strive one thing new” Dickey tells me. “These items occur within the life-cycle of an organization. The one that begins it isn’t all the time the identical particular person to take it to an IPO. Gigster’s doing extremely properly. It was only a actually vanilla separation in the perfect curiosity of all events.”

Gigster co-founders (from left): Debo Olaosebikan and Roger Dickey

Gigster’s remaining co-founder and CTO Debo Olaosebikan will stick with the startup, however tells me he’ll be “transferring away from a variety of the day-to-day administration.” He’ll be in a extra public going through position, evangelizing the imaginative and prescient of digital transformation to huge shoppers hoping Gigster can equip them with the apps their clients demand. “We’ve gotten to a extremely good place on the backs of the founders and to get it to the subsequent stage within enterprise, having individuals who’ve achieved this, lived this, labored in enterprise for a very long time is sensible for the corporate.”

Olaosebikan and Dickey each verify there was no misconduct or different humorous enterprise that triggered the CEO’s departure, and he’ll keep on the Gigster board. Dickey tells me that Gigster’s enterprise managing groups of freelance product managers, engineers, and designers to deal with product improvement for giant shoppers has grown income each quarter. It now has 1200 shoppers together with virtually 10% of Fortune 500 corporations. Olaosebikan says “Now we have an important repeatable gross sales mannequin. We will develop profitably after which we will work out financing. We’re not in a rush to boost cash.”

Since leaving Gigster, Dickey has been assembly with traders and entrepreneurs to noodle on what’s of their “thought shelf” — the product and firm ideas these techies think about however are too busy to implement themselves. In the meantime, he’s looking for just a few elite engineers and designers to work by Untitled’s prospects.

Dickey stated he got here up with the “search labs” definition since he and others had discovered success with the technique that nobody had formalized. The search labs mannequin contrasts with three different methods individuals usually type startups:

  • Conventional Startup: Founders provide you with one thought and lift from enterprise corporations to construct it into an organization that’s fast to begin and lets them maintain a variety of fairness, however these startups typically fail as a result of they lack product market match. Examples: Fb, SpaceX.
  • Startup Accelerators and Incubators: Founders provide you with one thought and enter an accelerator or incubator that gives funding and training for plenty of startups in change for a small slice of fairness. Founders generally be taught their thought received’t work and pivot throughout this system, which is why accelerators search to fund nice groups, however in any other case function historically. Examples: Y Combinator, 500 Startups.
  • Startup Studio: The studios’ founders work with entrepreneurs to provide you with a small variety of concepts whereas protecting a major of the fairness. The entrepreneurs function semi-autonomously however with the benefit of shared sources. Examples: Expa, Betaworks.
  • Search Lab: Founders conceptualize and experiment with a small variety of startup concepts, then focus the corporate round probably the most promising prototype. Examples: Untitled Labs, Midnight Labs (was TBH)

Dickey tells me that after 80 angel investments, going to each current Y Combinator Demo Day, and speaking with key gamers throughout the trade, the search lab methodology was the easiest way to hone in on his finest thought reasonably than simply occurring a hunch. Provided that strategy, he went with “Untitled” so he may save the branding work for when the suitable product emerges. Dickey concludes “We’re attempting to maintain it actually barebones. We don’t have an workplace, don’t have a brand, and we’re not going to make swag. We’re simply going to search out the subsequent enterprise as effectively as attainable.”


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