Indianapolis-based venture studio High Alpha is launching its latest company, Colaboratory, which offers a platform that makes it easier for brands to collaborate with each other.
Colaboratory was formed in January and had been operating in stealth mode until its official public launch Wednesday.
The company exists to facilitate partnerships known in the marketing industry as collabs—projects in which two or more brands work together to reach customers in a new way. Some recent examples of collabs include Lego and Stranger Things, in which the toymaker produced a set based on the Netflix television show; and a collab in which Disney characters are featured on Adidas athletic shoes and apparel.
Colaboratory’s software platform helps brands identify who they should partner with, then helps those brands form that partnership. Colaboratory is a software-as-a-service company: Its revenue comes from customers who pay to access its platform.
“We’re trying to help brands partner with other brands to grow faster together,” said Colaboratory cofounder and CEO Scott Moore. “It’s about exciting recombinations.”
Despite the advantages of collabs, Moore said, the partnerships are not easy to create. Most of them happen because of pre-existing personal connections between executives at different brands, Moore said, which is not a scalable approach. And it can be complicated to bring two brands together for a collaboration—a process that Colaboratory aims to make easier.
Moore, who lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, has more than 30 years of experience in marketing, including stints as chief marketing officer at Best Buy and Wynn Resorts. His cofounder is Brian Bispala, a serial entrepreneur who founded the Minneapolis, Minnesota-based software-as-a-service cybersecurity company Code42.
Colaboratory currently has five full-time employees including Moore and Bispala, three of whom live in the Twin Cities metro area in Minnesota. The other two live in central Indiana.
Colaboratory’s initial connection to High Alpha came through High Alpha Managing Partner Scott Dorsey. Dorsey was a cofounder of Indianapolis-based ExactTarget, which was later acquired by Salesforce. Best Buy was an early customer of ExactTarget, and Moore and Dorsey met each other through that business relationship.
“There’s a large gap between consumers’ desire for brands to work together in new and creative ways and the technology needed to drive these innovative and inspiring brand collabs,” Dorsey said in a written statement. “We believe there is a huge opportunity here to deliver tremendous value to brands and build out a true system of record for brand collabs and partnerships.”
To date, Colaboratory’s customers include national companies including Great Clips, the Minneapolis-based franchise of hair salons; Burnsville, Minnesota-based retail chain Northern Tool + Equipment; and Fanatics, which is the world’s largest maker of licensed sports merchandise. Other customers include the national not-for-profit organization Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the independent clothing brand Vardagen.
“We all know we should be doing more collabs, but in the current state, so much of it is instinct, guesswork and grueling,” Great Clips Vice President of Marketing Communication Lisa Hake said in written remarks. “Colaboratory unlocks a huge opportunity for us to increase the velocity of our collabs and make them strategic imperatives.”
High Alpha has launched more than 30 companies since its founding in 2015 by tech entrepreneurs Eric Tobias, Dorsey, Mike Fitzgerald and Kristian Andersen.