Los Angeles Business Journal

Technology Firms Look to Bloom Beyond Seed Funding

INVESTMENT: Lack of series A money may pinch growth plans. By Natalie Jarvey Monday, December 10, 2012

When Alon Goren went looking for seed funding for his Santa Monica crowdfunding startup, Invested.in, he hoped to get a half-million dollars. But he found more interest from investors than he expected and ended up raising $830,000.

Invested.in is one of the many early stage companies benefiting from an L.A. technology community bursting with seed funding. In fact, Los Angeles has attracted several new seed funds.

But companies that are a little further along than Invested.in and are looking for multimillion-dollar funding rounds might not be so lucky.

Los Angeles is home to only a handful of established investors able to make bigger early stage investments and lead what are called series A and B investing rounds. Many startups are getting seed funding, but it’s generally believed that there’s not enough local venture capital to push those companies along as they mature.

One of the venture capital firms trying to fill that gap, Greycroft Partners in Santa Monica, is fielding more requests than ever from L.A. companies looking to raise money, said Dana Settle, a partner at the firm. Greycroft, which has made about a quarter of its investments in Los Angeles, just raised $175 million for its third fund.

“The growth of accelerators and incubators (to boost very young tech companies in Los Angeles) has not been matched with that growth in series A and series B funds,” Settle said. “We do feel like there’s a tremendous opportunity here.”

Greycroft, which opened in 2006 and also has an office in New York, invests up to $5 million in a new portfolio company and focuses its L.A. investments on digital media and e-commerce companies.

The region’s other larger VCs include Rustic Canyon Partners in Santa Monica, which invests up to $10 million in series A and series B rounds, and Century City’s GRP Partners, which is in the process of raising its fourth fund to continue investing in series A, B and later rounds.

These firms are active in Los Angeles and participate in many of the area’s largest investments. But there still isn’t enough local capital available to meet the future needs of the growing number of seed-funded companies.

“Certainly the majority of companies that raise seed-stage dollars will not raise significant series A,” said Nate Redmond, managing partner of Rustic Canyon.

Fresh funds

An entrepreneur just starting off often raises money from family members, friends, angel investors and seed funds. That funding might amount to several hundred thousand dollars. As the company gets footing and shows promise, it might attract institutional investor financing. Known as the series A round, that typically ranges from $2 million to $10 million. The money is meant to last six months to two years as the young company develops products, builds a staff and forms an operational business. If the company grows, follow-on rounds are known as series B, C and so on.

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