At Harmony Venture Labs, we’re in the business of launching and growing new ventures. Our work helps to lift our startup and tech economies to create economic value through company creation. That’s really what HVL is all about, and what led me toward creating a venture studio.
Our teams’ shared belief is that technology platforms should be used to benefit people and their communities, and that new venture creation is a powerful vehicle to deliver that value. Through strategy, marketing, design, and product guidance, HVL helps companies navigate their journey to faster, more sustainable growth.
I was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, and moved to Birmingham as a teenager in 1998. There’s something uniquely powerful to me about the community, the people, and the sense of togetherness here, especially when it comes to making Birmingham better. Everybody’s all in, which is really special and not something you find everywhere.
I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur and have had my share of ideas that didn’t work out. That journey ultimately led to the formation of my first company, TheraNest, and its parent company, Therapy Brands, in 2013. Therapy Brands has become a leading provider of software solutions for mental, behavioral, substance use disorder, and physical rehab providers and organizations.
While I was still at Therapy Brands, I started thinking about what I wanted to do next. Whatever it was, I knew it needed to be about building, growing, and contributing, because that’s what drives me.
I believe that building companies and driving the economic empowerment that comes from it can be life changing for everyone. I thought, how do I take all the opportunities and lessons I’ve learned and scale them, keeping three things in mind: building great companies, helping my community, and creating economic opportunities.
The way I could include my background and knowledge and see it start to come together was through something like HVL. We’re all learning and improving our skills together. The goal is to take our resources and learnings and put it all back into building companies. Our team helps these new companies get started and begin to grow, and all of our energy goes into supporting that growth and providing high-impact economic outcomes.
The venture studio model idea didn’t start that simply, but evolved into it, as many things in life do. As an angel investor myself, I saw the struggles of early-stage companies first hand. I was advising early-stage founders around critical topics like idea validation, funding, market positioning, and talent, among other things. Many of them were facing the same challenges and making the same mistakes that I had.
Many of these challenges compound in a market like Birmingham, where the density of high-growth startups is lower than what you’ll find in more established markets. I realized the common thread was that these founders had limited resources and a lack of experienced practitioners to guide them through their startup journey.
Creating a Venture Studio
At first, I wanted to form something like a “brain trust” for my companies – a trusted team of industry experts founders could tap into when they had questions or came across challenges while they grew. One of the most common issues I kept running into was founders who had gotten feedback but struggled with implementation. I wanted to find a way to have a team who would also be able to help handle some of the initial implementation.
I spoke with a couple of local investors and other angels about what a solution might look like, but we didn’t nail down a structure that would provide this ideal core team of specialists to support our network of companies. Who would pay them? Which projects would take priority? How would resources be allocated? Would they be shared? Getting to the root of questions like these was what helped guide me toward the model of creating a venture studio.
A studio ended up being the perfect vehicle to deliver all the things I’m passionate about: building companies and teams, creating significant economic value and opportunities, and helping to grow the city I call home.
Over time, our team has grown and evolved into what HVL is today. We’re made up of experts across all aspects of B2B SaaS – many of whom are founders or co-founders themselves, and know first hand what the founders and companies we support are going through. We’re able to use our collective backgrounds and experience to help entrepreneurs bring their ideas to life, and early-stage founders achieve faster, continued growth.
One of the ways we’re proud to be providing value to the startup community is by hosting regular Office Hours with the HVL team. This program allows founders to schedule free consultative sessions on topics that are important to them and their burgeoning business – ranging from product, design, engineering, and operations to marketing, strategy, and fundraising.
At HVL, we’re always thinking of new ideas, and part of our focus going forward will be to continue working through these ideas and validating them. Part of that process includes partnering with motivated co-founders. We always want to be supporting startups and new partners, and collaborating throughout ideation, validation, launch, and growth.
We’re in a continuous learning, building, and launching cycle. We’re going to keep supporting the growth of our portfolio companies, while also bringing our own studio ideas and products to market. And we have a big goal–to launch multiple new HVL companies every year.
I’m proud of our HVL team and what we’ve been able to accomplish so far, and I know we’re all excited for what’s ahead. If you want to stay in the loop with what we’re doing, you can sign up for email updates, or connect with us on social media.