TandemLaunch: Pioneer of Venture Studios in Quebec

October 2023

Founded in 2010 by Helge Seetzen, TandemLaunch has emerged as a true pioneer of the venture studios model within Quebec. In just 13 years of operations, Tandem has an impressive track record by developing over 35 startups, four of which successfully exiting the market: Algolux, Wrnch, Mirametrix, and IRYSTEC. Tandem’s performance has been made possible through three investment funds with combined value of $55 million.

What distinguishes TandemLaunch is its unique approach to startup creation. In contrast to other similar entities, Tandem’s in-house team takes the initiative to identify industry opportunities and then conducts extensive research to find university-held intellectual properties that align with these opportunities. In their search of intellectual properties, Tandem exhibits a global outlook, with an expansive network of industrial and academic partners. Their IP agreements extend beyond the borders of Quebec and Canada, including prestigious institutions in the United States and Europe.

The recruitment of founders follows a similar mindset. Tandem’s recruitment team is globally dispersed, seeking out the best international talents. Once they find the right individuals, Tandem forms a pair of founders (or resident entrepreneurs) possessing complementary skills and expertise who work in tandem to validate and develop a startup project based on the organization’s exclusive intellectual properties.

The studio’s primary focus lies in DeepTech startups. Every year, Tandem launches 5-6 startups, providing them with support that may span from 12 to 18 months.

To support these startups during their incubation phase, Tandem has an in-house team of experts in various field including accounting, human resources, marketing, engineering, and more. These seasoned professionals guide the startups throughout their journey, offering mentorship and coaching to maximize their chances of success. The studio also possesses an extensive network of academic, industrial, and investment partners who provide support tailored to the needs of the resident entrepreneurs.

Hence, the initial task for founders recruited by Tandem is to validate the commercial potential of the selected intellectual property. Once the startup concept gains validation and is ready to advance, the choice of a CEO is collaboratively determined by TandemLaunch and the founders to ensure strong and competent leadership for the emerging startup.

In terms of funding, TandemLaunch offers enticing benefits to its founders. In addition to a competitive salary, founders receive equity in the startup. The studio offers financial backing during the incubation phase and participates in the initial fundraising rounds, typically without taking the lead. They continue to invest in subsequent financing rounds, up to the Series A stage.


Interview with Stefan Orzechowski, Chief Financial Officer at TandemLaunch

Stefan has been an integral part of TandemLaunch since 2013. As a Chartered Accountant with a degree in accounting and entrepreneurship, he boasts nearly fifteen years of experience across various industries in management and accounting roles, bridging finance, operations, and strategy. Stefan has a deep-seated passion for working with aspiring entrepreneurs and startups. Beyond his professional life, he’s an avid cook and enjoys spending quality time with his dogs.


1. What sets you apart from other players (VCs, Studios, Accelerators, etc.)?

Two key elements truly set us apart. First, our investment approach is grounded in a meticulous technology scouting process that forms our pipeline. We initially identify the most promising technologies emerging from university research to address genuine industry challenges. We then assemble a team of experts to build the business. This symbiotic approach aims to create companies with the highest likelihood of success.

Second, our unwavering commitment to providing comprehensive support at every stage of our startups’ development is unparalleled. We are deeply involved in all aspects of the business from its inception and throughout our program. Even after securing startup funding, we remain highly active on the board, and our team continues to provide multifaceted support. This level of support throughout a company’s lifecycle is unparalleled in any other studio or venture capital fund, and it’s the driving force behind our remarkable success.


2. What are the advantages of this concept for you?

The high level of support and attention we provide significantly mitigates risks across various facets of the businesses we create. We ensure the resolution of critical technical uncertainties and strive to make our companies attractive to both customers and investors. With our daily support on non-core activities, we empower founders to focus on business growth, unburdened by administrative tasks.


3. What challenges have you faced (Costs, Founder flow, etc.)?

Our primary challenge lies in finding enough entrepreneurs possessing the requisite technical skills and the willingness to become founders. This necessitates a global search for candidates, hindered by inefficient and outdated immigration programs, resulting in protracted processes.

Another significant challenge is accessing startup funding in Quebec. While there’s an abundance of capital available, there’s a noticeable gap for seed and pre-seed companies. Addressing this gap would be instrumental in bolstering the Quebec startup ecosystem, enhancing competitiveness, and ultimately enabling us to launch more companies collectively.


4. Large companies appear to show keen Interest in this model. Do you observe this enthusiasm? If so, can you elaborate on how this interest materializes ?

Indeed, we’ve observed considerable enthusiasm both locally and abroad. Some companies strive to establish internal venture studios, although with mixed results due to the inherent complexity of this model.

Others engage with us as investors, become direct clients, or offer collaborative development opportunities. While the interest is palpable, the manner of engagement varies widely based on the size of the involved companies.


5. What are the next steps for your organization?

Our immediate focus is to continue refining operational efficiency and scalability wherever possible. We aim to champion early-stage investments and further immerse ourselves in the ecosystem, forging new partnerships and strengthening existing ones. This strategic approach ensures the continuous growth and success of our organization.


To learn more about TandemLaunch, please visit Tandemlaunch.com